I cannot remember now, nearly thirty years later, if I saw this film in a movie theater. I don’t believe I did. In fact, I think I saw it on a grainy VHS tape recorded from someone’s cable or satellite dish system (back when the dishes were six to eight feet in diameter). After attending a recent library event on Edgar Rice Burroughs, I placed the DVD for Greystoke in my Netflix queue. Terry and I watched most of it one evening, but didn’t get the last bit watched until the weekend. Even though not a BluRay, the wide-screen format on the HD plasma still provide stunning vistas out of Dark Africa.
Not having read any Tarzan novels, I can’t confirm (or deny) the authenticity of the adaptation. Most critics consider this one of the closest to the author’s vision. I liked it because of it’s believability, whether in the jungle or in late Victorian England. Lambert’s debut acting role still impresses me. This also happened to be Andi MacDowell’s first film. Both of them played very well together.
I liked the movie overall. I think it has held up well and is probably my favorite Tarzan movie to date.
After spending a very lazy Saturday avoiding the invasion of little green men from the Emerald Isle by baking bread, reading about life under Mao in China and watching action flix, Apollo and I took a long walk Sunday morning under an increasingly gloomy overcast sky. Oddly, we saw only one other dog, which looked like a miniature version of Apollo. Only three other people were walking during the nine o’clock hour yesterday. We passed by two clocks on our walk, both of which are broken (either not telling time at all or completely incorrect in their display). Here’s a couple of shots of the clock at the north end of Lansing’s long undeveloped Town Centre street:
As Terry and I were about to leave the house in the early afternoon, my father stopped by on a surprise visit, mostly in response to a status update I Tweeted late on Saturday. He wanted the nitty gritty details concerning my success in updating my Autostar hand-held computer control device for my Meade ETX-90 telescope.
A couple of weeks ago, I had downloaded the most recent Autostar Updater software from Meade and finally remembered to attempt the hardware portion of the update. Hardware and I have a long history of adversarial confrontations. Basically, I used several different connector cables between my laptop and the Autostar device: 1) a serial to USB convert cable, 2) a proprietary Meade serial to Autostar cable (looks very similar to a phone jack, not nearly as big as RJ-45 though), 3) the Autostar cable to connect to the Meade ETX-90 and 4) a universal 12 volt transformer and power cable to supply electricity to the telescope. Once all the connections were in place and secure, I fired up the software. I did an auto-detect on all available COM ports and the software found the Autostar on COM5. Then, I instructed the software to download the most recent firmware version (43Eg … an increase of nearly 20 versions over the 26Ec firmware that came on the Autostar when I received it) from Meade and proceeded with the download to the Autostar at the astronomically miniscule data rate of 9600 baud. The update amounted to about 36 kilobytes of data. I have text files that are larger than that. It took fifteen to twenty minutes to complete the transfer. Man, has data transfer come a long ways in the last decade or two.
I gave dad the bread I had made him Saturday, as well as the Netflix envelope with The Adventures of TinTin sealed in it so he could watch that movie and then return it for me to Netflix in a second unsealed envelope I sent home with him.
Without further ado, Terry and I headed to the Plaza branch of the Kansas City Public Library to attend a lecture and presentation by John Carter Tibbets billed as “From Africa to Mars! 100 Years of Tarzan and John Carter.” We arrived just in the nick of time and parked in the tenant parking garage, since I remembered to bring my security badge with me. I happen to work in that same building. As a result of the lecture, I decided to add the DVD of Greystoke to my Netflix queue. I remember watching it in the mid 80s, probably on a VHS tape, but decided now is the time to see it in wide-screen via DVD. I also acquired a movie poster for the John Carter movie, and other memorabilia, courtesy of Tibbets’ recent private screening of the film at a special showing to a select group of Burroughs aficionados. Tibbets closed the session with this wonderful quote from C.S. Lewis, summing up the why behind the timeless popularity of characters like John Carter and Tarzan:
To tell how odd things struck odd people is to have an oddity too much: he who is to see strange sights must not himself be strange. He ought to be as nearly as possible Everyman or Anyman.
— C.S. Lewis, On Science Fiction
On the return trip home, Terry and I detoured to Mission Med Vet to pick up Roxy‘s remains. We spent the drive home in silence, cherishing memories of her and missing her deeply.
I loved this film. I would even go so far to say I loved it better than the original book the screenplay was adapted from, A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. As soon as the BluRay for John Carter is released, I am buying it. That’s saying something, since I haven’t actually purchased a DVD or BluRay for myself in years (as a Netflix subscriber, why would I?). The last film worthy of that feat (but only on the discount table because I’m so cheap) would have been Live Free or Die Hard, but I didn’t get the chance since my daughter gifted it to me for my birthday last year. I plan to add John Carter to my permanent collection, shelving it next to my special collector’s editions of Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings.
Go see John Carter. Now. Don’t wait.
You don’t need to be a fan of science fiction or epic fantasy to appreciate a good tale well told, one that leaves you shouting for more.
Oh, and I almost forgot. I liked the musical score as well, which came as no surprise when the credits started rolling and listed Michael Giacchino as the composer. His work on The Incredibles impressed me so much I bought the soundtrack CD (another thing I haven’t done since the days of Star Wars).
I can’t wait until this weekend to see John Carter at the theater. I would have bought my tickets over lunch except my favorite theater has not yet listed showtimes for this weekend. I convinced my uncle to venture forth as well this weekend. But the real icing on the cake came with the short note he sent me this morning proclaiming his success in finding A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs at Project Gutenberg and getting it downloaded to his Nook Color.
My local favorite library posted a cool YouTube video via their Facebook and Twitter feeds that I’d like to share here, prefaced by their blurb:
Do you know who created Tarzan and John Carter of Mars 100 years ago this spring? Check out this video preview of an upcoming event featuring author, critic & broadcaster John Tibbetts celebrating the legacy of an American cult icon…
And thanks to an update from Sky & Telescope‘s Facebook feed, I learned that “Mars is at its closest to Earth for this apparition: 100.8 million km (62.6 million miles). Mars appears 13.9 arcseconds wide, compared to the 24″ or 25″ it reaches during its closet swing-bys. The last time that happened was in 2003; the next will be in 2018.” I saw Mars shining brightly this morning in the west before the sun arose, when I let the dogs out after they ate their breakfast.