Verdict: 4.5 / 5
The Jungle Book is undoubtedly one of the most unforgettably vibrant films from the Disney Classic range. Now you can relive those childhood memories of an adventure in the jungle and the songs that made it impossible to sit still, with this awesome digitally restored DVD. Follow young Mowgli as he meets an array of diverse characters, entrancing and entertaining, with lurking danger.
Bagheera: This will take brains, not brawn.
Baloo: You better believe it, and I’m loaded with both.
Based on Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, comes this tale about an happy-go-lucky orphan boy, Mowgli (voiced by Bruce Reitherman) raised by wolves, who’s presence in the jungle poses a threat as rumours spread that Shere Khan (George Sanders) the fearsome tiger is back. Shere Khan is known to despise man and he will surely kill Mowgli on sight. Bagheera (Sebastian Cabot) volunteers to escort Mowgli to the ‘man village’, having been somewhat of a guardian to Mowgli, as it was him who found the abandoned baby.
Naturally Mowgli is not happy with this decision, and as all young children do, stubbornly puts up an act of defiance, claiming not to be afraid of Shere Khan and that he can survive just fine in the jungle. Bagheera decides to let Mowgli have his way, but stays within earshot in the event that Mowgli is endangered. What he doesn’t anticipate is that Mowgli will meet Baloo (Phil Harris), that is best described as “groovy”. This laid back bear is the complete contrast to Bagheera, and immediately Mowgli embraces the Baloo lifestyle.
Mowgli: You eat ants?
Baloo: You better believe it. And you’re gonna *love* the way they tickle.
But Shere Khan is not the only threat, the deeper they go into the jungle, the trio (Baloo, Bagheera and Baloo) have to fend off hypnotising snakes, treed carefully among the Elephants, vultures and escape some lively monkey business in the ruins with King Louis the orangutan.
What makes this film so memorable is the brilliance with which the lyrics describe each character and encounter so perfectly and the orchestral accompaniment truly makes them come alive and impossible not to love. Just think of songs like Baloo’s life philosophy The Bare Necessities, or King Louis desire to be human with the swinging number I Want To Be Like You, Kaa’s hypnotising song that really entrances you, where you moments earlier couldn’t control your hips from swaying. Terry Gilkyson and the Sherman brothers wrote the lyrics and George Bruns is the creator of this remarkable score, orchestrated by Walter Sheets. Fare to say that the Academy Award nomination for Best Song was well deserved.
King Louie: Ha-ha, so you’re the mancub? Crazy.
Mowgli: I’m not as crazy as you are, put me down.
The voice artists and casting must be applauded, together with the whole team of animators, having created such vivid characters and the environment they find themselves in. All in all this 1967 film is timeless, filled with so much energy, fun and layered with valuable lessons about friendship and breaking prejudges.
The Jungle Book was first released on VHS IN 1991, on DVD in 1999, with the Blu-Ray edition to be released in 2014 as part of Disney’s Diamond Edition. The DVD has a bonus section with:
– Deleted Scenes: The Lost Character – Rocky the Rhino
– Alternate Ending
– Disneypedia: Junglemania