Director: Wolfgang Reitherman
I am an Assistant Cub Scout leader and as such watch The Jungle Book at least once a year! However it is not one of my favourite Disney animated films.
“Although it’s a slight story and the animation is unexceptional, the characterization and score give the picture distinction.” (Tom Charity, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, 477) The characters are indeed brilliant and do remain with you. my personal favourites are the ‘fab four’ vultures and Kaa, ooh and the elephants! I love the elements with their military stylings. I find Mowgli fairly insipid and his laugh is just downright annoying. Shere Khan really is quite menacing and of course thoroughly English (as all good baddies are!). Baloo is the fun uncle, someone who doesn’t put much stock in rules and consequences preferring just to go from one moment to the next.
“The last animated feature to be overseen by Walt Disney himself, The Jungle Book was the first to use stars for the voice talent.” (477) While may will see Phil Harris as Baloo and Sterling Holloway as Kaa I actually associate them more with Little John and Sir Hiss, respectively, from Disney’s Robin Hood.
You can always tell if someone has had the pleasure of watching The Jungle Book if they launch into the ‘I dunno’ vulture sketch when asked what they want to do. You cannot help but sing along with the songs, especially ‘Bare Necessities’ and “I Wanna Be Like You’.
The animators have got the perfect balance of human and animal characteristics. I mean the monkeys especially have enough monkey-isms that you can’t forget what they really are. I love the artwork of the jungle and various locations along their journey … it all has a sumptuous and alive feel to it. The beauty of Disney’s animated features is that they work for all ages, which I don’t think translates as well to the new computer animated Disney films. I loved them as a child and continue to love them as I grow up. And I will most definitely pass them on to the younger generations ensuring their legacy lives on.