Kala (Tarzan)

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Kala
First appearance Tarzan of the Apes
Last appearance Jungle Tales of Tarzan
Created by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Portrayed by Glenn Close
Information
Species Great Ape
Gender Female
Spouse(s) Tublat (book)
Kerchak (films)
Relatives Tarzan (adopted son)

Kala is a fictional ape character in Edgar Rice Burroughs's original Tarzan novel, Tarzan of the Apes, and in movies based on it.

History[edit]

In the novel, Kala is a female in a band of Mangani, a fictional species of Great Ape intermediate between real life chimpanzees and gorillas. She saves the infant Tarzan from the murderous fury of Kerchak, the mad leader of the ape band, after the latter kills Tarzan's human father. Kala goes on to rear the human baby as her own while protecting him against Kerchak and her own mate, Tublat. After Tarzan reaches adulthood, Kala is killed by a native African hunter, who is afterward killed by Tarzan in revenge.[1]

Kala also appears in Jungle Tales of Tarzan, the sixth book of the Tarzan series, which relates episodes from the ape man's youth omitted from Tarzan of the Apes. Chapter 7, "The End of Bukawai," relates an episode in which Tarzan is almost killed when he swings so long on the rope that it frays and parts, dropping him to the ground. Kala runs to the boy's aid and he soon revives.[2]

Movie versions[edit]

The 1957 Tarzan movie Tarzan and the Lost Safari conflates Kala with Kerchak in a mention by the ape man to the female lead of his adoption as a baby by a she-ape. The account echoes Burroughs's version of Tarzan's youth, but names Kerchak rather than Kala as his ape foster mother. While neither actually appears in the film (nor any other ape character, aside from the ubiquitous Cheeta), the direct reference to the original Burroughs story is unusual for a movie of this period.

In Disney's Tarzan (1999) and its direct-to-video sequel, Burroughs's "Great Apes" are gorillas, and Kala is the mate of Kerchak (a much more benign figure in the film) rather than Tublat, who himself appears in the Disney animated TV series as the rogue tyrant instead. In the film's retelling Tarzan's parents are killed by Sabor the leopard, and Kala saves the infant Tarzan from Sabor, not Kerchak, though Kerchak disapproves of this after their biological child died at the hands of the same leopard. She does not die in the movie. Kala was voiced by actress Glenn Close.[3]

In the 2013 computer-animated film Tarzan, Kala is a gorilla mated to Kerchak, the silverback leading their gorilla troop. After Kerchak is challenged and treacherously killed by the rogue Tublat, Kala adopts the young Tarzan to replace her deceased baby with Kerchak; Tarzan grows up to eventually challenge and exile Tublat. Late in the movie Kala is shot by mercenaries, seemingly dying, though she is subsequently shown to have recovered.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Tarzan of the Apes (1912 novel)
  2. ^ Jungle Tales of Tarzan (1919 novel)
  3. ^ Tarzan (1999 film).