Here is the link of a wonderful documentary that was aired in France on 2017, April the 27th: “Tarzan aux sources du mythe” (formerly known as “Tarzan Revisited” as it was produced in Australia. People outside of France probably won’t unfortunately be able to access the link).
It explains in 52 minutes why the character became so mythical, and will probably still be for years to come, in spite of the wealth of criticisms written by “well-meaning” but completely wrong people, regarding the supposed racism and colonialism associated with the character, which appeared notably at the time the last movie was released.
Are interviewed David Yates, director of the last to date Tarzan movie, “The Legend of Tarzan”, Hugh Hudson, director of “Greystoke” (released in 1984 and one of the most faithful adaptations, at least in its first part), his main actor, the always sympathetic Christopher Lambert, Scott Tracy Griffin, author of the magnificent Tarzan the Centennial Celebration and Tarzan on Film books (hired recently by ERC Incorporated, and in charge of special projects), Thomas Yeates, artist, and Casper Van Dien, Tarzan in the 1998 movie « Tarzan and the Lost City ». Among the interviewees in French language, Pascal Dibie, historian, Christophe Champclaux, movie historian, and Bernard Joubert, comic book collector.
Extracts translated from French that seemed interesting to me:
"Tarzan couldn’t have been invented in the colonial context that was taking place in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. On the other hand, people in the United States are completely unconcerned by this topic. Americans may be imperialists, but they are not colonialists. That’s not the same thing. In this time period, in this 20th century, they’re not German, nor English, nor French, nor from Belgium… They don’t own a piece of this cake, it’s none of their concern at all. They’re in an isolationism, building themselves up, and I think Burroughs was indeed the expression of an universe which had no need to prove its legitimacy elsewhere."
Pascal Dibie, historian
"Burroughs had a striking experience during his tenure in the 7th of Cavalry. He met old people there, veterans from the Indian Wars. He was absolutely horrified by the racism of these people. There he sees that there’s something so very shocking about the arrogance of the white man towards ancient civilizations. Nobody questions the legitimacy of the destruction of the first civilizations."
Christophe Champclaux, movie historian
[Regarding Tarzan and Jane] " He trusts her because she’s pure. Her heart is pure. Her intentions are pure. He’s the same as her. The difference is that she comes from civilization, but still with her purity as a human being. He has no choice in that matter. He’s pure no matter what. He’s an animal, and an animal is pure."
Hopefully the documentary will soon be available to everybody!