First published in 1912, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes sparked the Western world’s imagination during the height of European colonisation of Africa. It became a series of 22 novels and a swag of movies starring Olympian Johnny Weissmuller. Tarzan’s ape-like features, wild call, and ability to swing from vines helped him usurp the alpha male apes as the leader of the jungle community. The character eventually tangles with a bunch of despicable humans, as well as the woman he loves.
Despite never having set foot on the continent, Burroughs’ Tarzan is “contemptuous of what he sees as the hypocrisy of civilization.” So he returns to Africa with his lover Jane, who comes from an estate in British East Africa. It is a land of lush green forests, sprawling coffee plantations, and thundering waterfalls like the Ekom-Nkam Falls.
But filming in the jungle itself can be difficult. In order to capture the essence of the wild terrain, production scouts looked for locations in England and Wales with an abundance of trees, lush mosses, and creepers. The Legend of Tarzan was shot at Goldsmith’s Hall in Hertfordshire, Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire, Leavesden Studios in Hertfordshire, and Virginia Water near London’s Heathrow Airport for the river scenes. Filming also took place in Gabon at the remote Goldfields Estate in Nkongsamba and at the stately Greystoke Manor. The production’s extensive aerial shots were filmed by using a helicopter with a RED 6K camera rig suspended from it.