With this being the long weekend, I figured I owed it to myself to catch up on some movies that have been on my list for a while. I have serious ADD when it comes to sitting still in one spot, which means watching movies in a theater is an achievement! I’d rather be waterboarded. That being said, the theaters here in the US are playing The Legend of Tarzan and his legend has been an integral part of my childhood as far back as my memory serves me. I needed some Tarzan therapy and a walk down memory lane. With Jungle Book releasing less than a month ago, I had already gotten my Mowgli fix. Time for part deux!
I have always been fascinated by human children lost deep in the jungle, be it the Indian jungle for Mowgli or the African Congo for Tarzan, raised in the wild, possessing skills and characteristics not even imaginable for a city-reared child. Often times when my mother was mad at me or I thought she was being unfair in her disciplining, I told myself I was adopted or better yet, one day I would run away from home in the middle of the night and head to the nearest jungle, to be raised as a feral child by my very own Bageera or Mangani Mama Ape. There was one small glitch, I lived in the heart of the city and the closest I had come to anything jungle-like was the local zoo. 🙂 I was also somewhere between the ages of 6-8 years old so that posed serious hindrances to my plan. I resigned myself instead to living vicariously through the growing pile of comic books, weekend cartoons and my rather active imagination.
I owe my deepest gratitude to both Rudyard Kipling and Edgar Rice Burroughs for creating these fabled characters with such life-like experiences and making my childhood such a colorful adventure. Being raised by a maternal wild beast, learning cool skills like swinging from tree to tree using vines, living off the land and learning the unspoken language of the jungle were some things I yearned to try for myself. Respect for all things living, respect for the pecking order and the ability to bond with a clan and become one of their own held much fascination for me. Even back then, I knew these were just stories and there were no real instances of a human child being reared in the wilderness, but the possibility still lingered.
As I grew older, I directed that fascination towards binge watching National Geographic, portraying fearless humans as they insert themselves into a family of apes or a pride of lions, learning how to live among bears or in alligator-infested areas. Watching them interact with these beasts brought home the realization that these few individuals possessed some critical characteristics – a respect for the animal in question, an uncanny ability to remain calm under pressure and lastly but most importantly, the understanding that chances of death with what they were attempting to do were pretty darn high and it would probably not be a pretty ending.
I still recall reading about Steve Irwin, the famed Australian wildlife expert and crocodile hunter. He was such a larger than life personality that it was impossible to fathom the fact that he met his death at the hands of a measly manta ray. It brought home the fact that the wild is just that, an untamable environment and while both Tarzan and Mowgli were raised by their wild mommas, chances of that happening in real life may be limited to watching it unfold on a large screen in a darkened room. As thrilled as I was to watch the movie (I didn’t quite think Alexander Skarsgard fit the personality…he looks a little too civilized if you ask me 🙂 ) and reconnect with my childhood fantasies, I might just keep my city residence and cable TV so I have access to NatGeo. 🙂