The aim of this blog post is to share my thoughts on the many references to previous Disney films in Tarzan, which cannot be ignored. They are not signs of Disney getting sloppy and using material that they have used before, not at all. I see Tarzan as a homage to all the Disney classics, as well as a classic in it's own right. We could even call it, the Once Upon a Time in the West of Disney's animated films.
Another big reference to previous films was the character of Kerchak, leader of the gorilla family. This character is impressive in his sheer size, imposing presence and his wisdom for the group. But this character has elements of so many other characters: namely Mufasa, the Beast, Chief Powhatan and the Great Prince of the Forest (Bambi's father). Kerchak has a similar role to Mufasa and Powhatan- they are both leaders and both have wisdom of age that helps them protect their family. There are many moments in Tarzan where they show Kerchak looking down at Tarzan, always alone and high up- this is very similar to Bambi's father. As for his similarity to the Beast, both have the same voice- frightening but tender, much like their character.
We cannot forget Jane's father, Professor Porter who looks like nearly every father figure in the Disney filmography. The sultan, King Hubert, the King from Cinderella and Maurice are all short, with a white hair and a big white moustache. Aside from that similarity, this character is very fun and original, bringing a lot of comedy to the film.
Last but not least, the visuals in Tarzan are out of this world. Thanks to computer technology, Disney's animators managed to create intricate jungle branches and vines that appear like a video game or a rollercoaster, taking us on this fun ride that Disney has never visually been able to do before.