This image of Tarzan and Jane is in one of the mosaic fountains on Tarzana’s Safari Walk. This mosaic, just like the mosaic I set as this blog’s header, was created by Jose Antonio Aguirre, an artist who specializes in public art. The image is pretty, but also . . . preposterous!
Why have Jane wear an impractical dress to swing through the jungle in Tarzan’s arms? Any woman knows that skirt would fly up–how embarrassing! And the fashionable red pumps, while darling, would fall off the minute she left the ground.
In this whimsical, impossible scene, there’s no trace of the determined woman Jane was, even in Disney’s silly, animated Tarzan and Jane. She’s also a long way from the aristocratic Jane of Tarzan The Tiger (1929), who leaves her posh life to live in the wild.
This Jane is a fun-loving, svelte lady who does Pilates and drinks Diet Pepsi–a perfect “California girl” who doesn’t for a minute look like she’s in a jungle–unless it’s the ‘concrete jungle’ of L.A., for which she is, come to think of it, well-prepared.
In the Safari Walk mosaic, Jane is wearing her best summer dress and fun fuck-me pumps. I’ve been trying to figure out the subtext–that is, something deeper than the obvious rescue/adventure fantasy?
Here’s the subtext I see: this pulp-fiction Tarzan is Tarzana’s resident celebrity. Safari Walk is his private theme park, his own backlot. He is expected to swoop in anytime there’s a beautiful young woman in distress, even if it’s just to be rescued from a boring birthday lunch at Il Tramezzino. The rescue goes down using the romance-novel script–the rescuer is a bad-boy who’s completely macho, yet capable of giving every tender attention.
Ladies, that’s a harmonic convergence that happens, oh, maybe once a millennium!
Here’s a close-up of underwater Jane’s red pumps. They’re just not for swinging on vines–which nowadays would be zip-lining.
For her next appearance in a mosaic, mural, or poster, please give Jane a flak jacket, pith helmet, and some proper footwear. Then she won’t need any saving!
Btw, here’s a link to the Tarzan Movie Guide website. It lists all of the Tarzan movies since 1915, with capsule reviews: