A Very Old Film Version Of “Tarzan of the Apes”

Over a hundred years old now, the silent Tarzan of the Apes (1918) is entrancing.  It opens as it should:  with frightening shots of such African creatures as lions, snakes and crocodiles.  Tarzan is not intimidated, which is good.  Enemies keep popping up, and this includes Arab slave traders.  Gee, I thought only white Americans used to enslave people.

Tarzan offers consistent black-and-white naturalism and is sometimes quite unpleasant, as when Tarzan the boy (Gordon Griffith) discovers the skeletons of his dead parents in a hut.  Only an hour-long copy of the film is available.  Long ago it was heavily cut by the censors, for part of the naturalism consists of Tarzan as a naked boy, and exposure of his penis had to be severely limited.

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