THE JUNGLE BOOK: DIAMOND EDITION
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY 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
One of the things I love about the legacy of Disney animation is how it has changed over the years. The classic style of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” and “Bambi” was beautiful, but it is really neat to see how that style changed throughout the decades. There’s a real joy to that evolution.
Films like “The Jungle Book,” “101 Dalmatians” and “The Aristocats” have a unique style that you no longer see in today’s features. Like the original “Winnie the Pooh” shorts, this style is more rustic and charming, finding beauty in its flaws. Similarly, the storytelling of these films is quite different than what we’ve seen in the past, and today as well.
The movies from the 60s and 70s had a more open form. Gone was the adherence to the classic fairy tales, and we got films that seemed to have more of a vignette structure. Few films exhibit this as much as “The Jungle Book.”
The film is a loose adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s famous book, sanitized and cute-ized for the Disney family audience. It is less of a representation of the book and more of a representation of the studio itself from Walt’s twilight years in charge.
The simple story follows the Man-Cub Mowgli, who must leave his family of wolves to be with his own kind. Bagheera the panther is in charge of getting him to his human home, but when Baloo the bear shows up and gives Mowgli a taste of freedom and carefree existence, Bagheera’s plans are thwarted. Together, the group must find safety for Mowgli before he meets and end with Shere Khan the Tiger, who has returned to the jungle and plans on destroying the Man-Cub.
The Diamond Edition Blu-ray of “The Jungle Book” has been released from the Disney vault, allowing fans to experience the film in high definition for the first time since seeing it on the big screen. This is a great move for its out-of-the-box storytelling and style, featuring some of the best songs of its era in a Disney musical. Like “Mary Poppins” and “101 Dalmatians,” “The Jungle Book” features some of the Sherman Brothers’ best work.
The new Blu-ray looks gorgeous, with colors that pop and the care in transfer that Disney is known for. All the special features from the two-disc 40th anniversary DVD are available on the disc, along with a DVD of the film and Digital Copy for portable watching.
Additional Blu-ray features include a spotlight on Disney Animation, Bear-E-Oke for sing-alongs and a special introduction from Diane Disney Miller and Richard M. Sherman.
If you don’t have a copy of “The Jungle Book” in your home video collection, this is the opportunity to get the best version of the film out there.