THE JUNGLE BOOK: 40th ANNIVERSARY EDITION
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
Phil Harris as BALOO
Sebastian Cabot as BAGHEERA
Louis Prima as KING LOUIE
George Sanders as SHERE KHAN
Sterling Holloway as KAA
Bruce Reitherman as MOWGLI
Directed by: Wolfgang Reitherman
BY KEVIN CARR
Like many people in the last few decades, I saw “The Jungle Book” in the theaters only in re-release. Now, it has made its way out of the Disney vault for a two-disc Platinum Edition DVD. This loose adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s stories of Mowgli the Man Cub is remembered as the last film that Walt Disney himself had a personal hand in making.
The film follows Mowgli, a child raised by wolves in the jungle of India. As he grows older, and as the great tiger Shere Khan returns, it is decided that Mowgli must return to the human village. The black panther Bagheera is put in charge of Mowgli’s return. However, along the way, they are distracted by many colorful character, including the relaxed bear Baloo and the mischievous orangutan King Louie.
In the 60s and 70s, the style of Disney animation changed, leading to a more rustic look that we associate with “The Jungle Book” and the early “Winnie the Pooh” shorts. While it appears less polished, it has a certain character that has been lost in these days of Flash animation and CGI. The roughness around the edges of “The Jungle Book” are part of what makes it such a classic. Even today, with its disjointed story, it’s a gem worthy of the “Disney classic” label.
Aside from one of the best voice casts ever assembled in a classic Disney film, “The Jungle Book” comes with some of the most memorable songs. While my favorite is “I Wanna Be Like You,” I still find myself joyfully humming “The Bear Necessities” each time I see it. On a personal note, while watching the film with my two young sons, it was delightful to see them burst into an impromptu dance routine for these two song selections.
The new double disc is also worthy of the Platinum Edition name, a special distinction for the Disney animated classics. The first disc contains the film with deleted songs, a modern music video, song selection and a spotlight on the lost character of Rocky the Rhino. Disc two comes with a 46-minute documentary about the making of the film, a featurette about how the film differed from Kipling’s work, art galleries, interactive games, Disney’s Junglepedia and spotlights on the animators and the boy who voiced Mowgli.