Red light and blue night
Apart from the prologue, blue night colors have so far been associated with the tender relationship between Tarzan and Kala. Now an unexpected load of hot colors is induced achieving yet another progression of expressionist lighting for a scene that brims with fury. It's the ultimate cold - warm contrast with almost primary blue and red. For the subsequent fight between Tarzan and Clayton, there are hardly any colors left other than rainy blue and grey as natual light takes over again.
Suddenly a red glint disturbs the blue calmness.
The strong red light affects everything within the clearing. Everything that’s out of this range is still blue preventing our eyes from adapting to the all red frame too easily. Because without contrasting colors even an all red image is perceived less intense after a while.
These monochromely red shots (above right) are intercut with blue ones showing Tarzan coming back - from right to left, of course, as he is on his way back home. By contrasting whole shots against each other, we have a color contrast that unfolds over time, something only film can do.
|Notice how the texture of the right picture benefits from these blue leaves (their shadow side).|
monochrome palettes have become standard again.
|The closer Tarzan is getting, the closer the camera and the shorter the shots.|
|But first, from the edge of the clearing where the light already seems to fade Clayton steps into the red light.|
At the exact moment Tarzan hits Clayton, the illumination rocket dies down and the red light is fading.
I like this a lot because, figuratively, Clayton and his men were in control first (casting their red light all over the clearing), now they’re fighting on Tarzan’s ground (the blue night time jungle). On an expressionist level it feels like the red light were emanating from a glowing Clayton that is deactivated by Tarzan's kick in the head.
|Where there's light, there's shadow, even in the darkest night.|
|The vines are really Tarzan's ground: he is very much at home while Clayton gets all tangled up...|
|...and dies in the course of it. This frame's intensity is due to a splitsecond lightning.|
Following Kerchak's death, Tarzan has already chosen to be the ape leader (we see the herd following him) in a scene that works without dialogue. Actually, this scene is as strong and emotionally complex that it would have made a perfect ending to the film with either leaving the Porters' destiny open or showing how they leave from a distance. But since this is a film that has to (has to?) live up to certain expectations - or better: conform to certain formulas - there follows a coda in plain sunlight with an external happy ending on all levels and against all probability.
All in all the capturing scene loosely mirrors the prologue with the burning ship (fire vs dark blue night), at least concerning color.
The personified connection between Tarzan's human and ape family is Sabor who apparently murdered Kala's baby and Tarzan's parents. Before Clayton's arrival in the jungle, Sabor is the main villain - painted in the same colors as Clayton.
Although I still have many reservations against specific aspects of Tarzan - a lot of it, including the character design and Phil Collins' songs, is simply not to my taste at all - I cannot deny that the story is as well-constructed as the jungle setting with the greatest possible attention to detail.