The Jungle Book (1967) - 40th Anniversary Edition
|Genre(s): Adventure / Animation / Comedy / Drama / Family|
|Disney || G - 78 minutes - $29.99 || October 2, 2007|
|Reviewer: Kushmeer Farakhan || Posted On: 2007-10-01|
Writer(s): Rudyard Kipling (novel); Larry Clemmons and Ralph Wright and Ken Anderson and Vance Gerry (screenplay)
Cast: Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, Louis Prima, George Sanders, Sterling Halloway, J. Pat O'Malley, Bruce Reitherman, Verna Felton, Clint Howard
Theatrical Release Date: October 18, 1967
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When I first saw Disney's the Jungle Book, I was about 7 years old. The year was 1990 and the film was being re-released into theatres. I remember we missed the first 20 minutes of the film (which I ended up seeing the following year on VHS) but that did not diminish its impact on me. It was magnificent. I remember after we got out of the film, we went to McDonalds and got Jungle Book happy meals. Those were the days. It's always been a film that I've looked back fondly upon, even now as a 24-year-old man and now Disney has decided to release the film on a two disc special edition Platinum DVD.
For those who've never seen it, Disney's Jungle Book is loosely based on Rudyard Kipling's novel of the same name about a young Indian child named Mowgli who was raised by wolves in the jungle and befriended by various other animals. There was Baloo the bear and Bagheera the black panther and a few others. Bagheera and Mowgli's wolf parents decide that the jungle is becoming too dangerous for the young "mancub" especially since Shere Kahn the tiger has been looking for Mowgli because he "fears man's gun and man's fire" and although "Lil Mowgli doesn't have any of those things", "Shere Kahn won't wait until he does". Wow, I just realized I could quote this movie verbatim.
So Mowgli, Baloo, and Bagheera engage in a journey to take Mowgli (often against his will) to the manvillage. Along the way, they encounter Kaa the evil snake, some Beetles-esque Vultures, Col. Hathi and his elephant brigade, King Louie and his kingdom of monkeys, and of course, Shere Kahn. Lots of fun, adventure and a few catchy songs ensue.
I think this movie is a very good one. As a child, I blindly loved it but never quite as much as some of Disney's more modern films like Aladdin or Beauty and the Beast and honestly, I still don't love it like I love those but I do like it a lot. The animation is quite good and the songs are wonderful. I know all the words to them. The voice acting is also terrific.
Of course, everybody always mentions how great Phil Harris was as Baloo, which I agree with, but I think one of the most underrated actors in the film has to be Sterling Holloway as Kaa the Snake. He's also famous for playing Winnie the Pooh for many years and I think he was great here. Another thing I noticed about the film now as an adult that I didn't notice before was how much detail there was by the animators. For example, there's a scene where Mowgli is sleeping and Baloo and Bagheera are having a discussion about Mowgli's future. The scene takes place over night and as the scene progresses, we slowly see the scene change from day to night and it's very subtle and gradual so to the casual observer it's not really noticeable but if you pay attention, wow, it's a treat. They simply don't make animated films quite this good anymore.
As it stands, I think The Jungle Book is a wonderful film for kids and adults of all ages. My only issue of it is that it doesn't have as much of an emotional pull as some of the other Disney films. Everything is kept light and there's not much in the ways of tragedy and pathos.
Audio Commentary features Bruce Weitherman (the voice of Mowgli, now a grown man), one of the film's songwriters, Richard Sherman, and a current Disney animator. The commentary is very good. Not only do we get tons of anecdotes from Sherman and Weitherman but we get very in-depth analysis of different ways certain scenes were animated and even a bit of bonus commentary as throughout the film, old clips of other crew members (no longer with us) are played during certain scenes as they comment on the scene. One of the better commentaries I've heard and possibly the best one Ive heard for an animated film.
7 Deleted Songs: These are quite interesting. They're just audio tracks but worth a listen. Some of them aren't very good and some are tonally wrong for the final film. You can tell why each one wasn't used. One was a song where Mowgli sings about dreaming of going to the Manvillage (which wouldn't have worked given his attitude about it during the final film). In another, Shere Kahn and a hunter sing about killing each other (which I enjoyed but would've been too dark for this film). My favorite, however, was "Monkey see, Monkey do", which is silly but catchy fluff.
Disney Song Selection is karaoke. Scenes from the movie play with words scrolling for you to sing along.
The Deleted Scene feature is quite cool as it reveals an character not used named Rocky the Rhino. The scene was never fully animated but we are treated to an storyboard version of it and why Walt Disney decided to cut the character and scene from the film.
"I Wanna Be Like You" Music Video is an horrible pop rock remake of the King Louie song from the film sung by some Hanson-esque boy band named the Jonas Bros. If you want your ears to bleed, by all means, give it a watch.
Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund is a very short featurette about Disney's wildlife conversation program and how you can find out more about it and how you can donate to it.
The Bare Necessities: The Making of the Jungle Book is a very good, 45-minute long documentary that takes you through every step of how the film came together. There's a lot here about how this was Walt Disneys final film before his death. A lot about a feud between Disney and Bill Pete (who wrote the first draft of the film), the legacy of two animators who worked on most of the film (Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston), how the film was cast, how the songs were written and just about everything you ever wanted to know about the film. It's amazingly detailed and I enjoyed it quite a bit.
Disney's Kipling: Walt's Touch on a Literary Classic is a 15-minute long featurette that shows the differences between Kipling's original novel, Bill Pete's first draft, and Disney's final version. There are a LOT and it's very intriguing to see how much more serious Pete's version especially was. For example, the man village was more prominent, there was a hunter and more.
The Lure of the Jungle Book is a short featurette about how various animators were influenced by the Jungle Book and how great a film it was. Good but only worth one watch really.
Mowgli's Return to the Wild is a very short featurette about how Bruce Weitherman (who played Mowgli), grew up to become a nature filmmaker and how he was inspired by his father (Wooley Reitherman who directed Jungle Book). Kind of touching.
Frank and Ollie is a neat little interview from the 80's where animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston talk a bit about their love for the Jungle Book and how they loved working on it. I like these guys and many other animators do too. Brad Bird (who directed The Incredibles) gave the two a cameo in that film as a tribute.
Disneypedia: Junglemania! Featurette is a 15-minute doc about all of the different real life animals that the characters in the film are based on. It's definitely aimed at kids(you can tell by the narrator) but I surprisingly enjoyed it. It's very informative and it was fun. I didn't know King Louie wasn't a monkey, but an ape (they're different, you know!).
Also included: Art Galleries are preproduction, production, postproduction, and marketing images from the film. Baloo's Virtual Swinging Jungle Cruise is a series of four little games aimed at kids I'd say between the ages of 5 and 10. And The Jungle Book Fun with Language Games is even more inane as they are more games but this time they're aimed at kids 4 and YOUNGER.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
The digital restoration to the film itself is even more breathtaking as it times, it almost looks like a brand new film. Disney restored the original theatrical soundtrack to the film for this DVD release and it sounds amazing. A real treat for the ears.
The Jungle Book is a very good animated film for people of all ages. The dvd is great overall but it could've been better (for me anyway) if it weren't for some of the kiddy games. Still, I can't recommend this enough.