Capturing Africa

Abstract

Gabe Essoe’s book Tarzan of the Movies and John Taliferro’s Tarzan Forever provide information on the production of the films and seek to explain the popular fascination with the Tarzan series. Brady Earnhart’s article, “A Colony of the Imagination: Vicarious Spectatorship in MGM’s Early Tarzan Talkies” provides a foundation for the cycle’s prioritization of fantasy over the real, introducing staged authenticity.  This paper adopts this methodology in its central argument along with John Urry’s publications, The Tourist Gaze and The Tourist Gaze 3.0. Urry’s and Earnhart’s concepts are applied in the paper's analysis of the film as a visual travelogue, a term not yet used to describe the 1930s cycle. Additionally, this study draws a relationship between films and contemporary print culture. More broadly, it provides a fresh interpretation embedded within an art historical lens, a framework lacking in current scholarship, since the majority of sources focus on summaries of the films. 

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