Jungle Book

Venturing Into the Jungle, A Look Inside Disney’s The Jungle Book

It’s been a month since the live-action remake, The Jungle Book, came out in theaters, so now it is time for a full review about not just the film itself, but some history into The Jungle Book, as well as the creators and actors in the movie.

There is a common misconception that The Jungle Book was an idea that Walt Disney himself created, but in fact, The Jungle Book is a collection of stories written in 1894 by Rudyard Kipling. Before Walt Disney’s version, there was actually a couple different Jungle Book’s made by different companies.

The first of these was Elephant Boy, released in 1937 by United Artists Corporation and then Jungle Book, released in 1942 which was also distributed by United Artists. However it was Walt Disney’s animated, The Jungle Book that captivated audiences everywhere.

This movie was directed by Wolfgang Reitherman and produced by Walt himself. The Jungle Book was also the last animated movie that Walt produced. The Jungle Book was released in 1967, and the box office was $205.8 million.

Jungle Book Kipling Cover

(Image courtesy of loyalbooks.com)

 

The live-action The Jungle Book would not have been made possible without the incredible talents that were involved in the film. These include the actors, the animators, composers, writers, producers, the director of the film, Jon Favreau, and so many others.

Jon Favreau is best known for his directing work in the Iron Man movies, and more recently, the movie Chef, which he both directed and starred in. Favreau brought an entirely new look to the classic.

Originally, the 1967 animated film was planned to be darker, and more mysterious, but Disney said that he was instead going for a lightness and a “Disney touch”. Whereas the animated film was lighter, Favreau wanted to explore the darker side of the jungle, and this new darkness can be seen in the movie.

People have been excited for this live-action movie for a long time, but I will admit that I was a bit skeptical to see the film. This film is unlike anything that has been put on the big screen before. The film is considered live action, but the only thing live about it is the young boy, Mowgli. EVERYTHING else is CGI, which stands for computer generated images.

CGI has been used in many films before, but none quite like this, where every creature, plant, background, and so on and so forth, is CGI. It is almost impossible to imagine that everything in the movie was shot in downtown LA, but it was.

So, yes, I was nervous for this film, because not only was everything going to be realistically animated, but the only live-action element was a 12-year-old boy. However, I was shocked when I saw the final product on-screen. I was not just shocked, I was in awe. When you watch the film, it does not feel animated. You look into the depths of the jungle and cannot begin to comprehend the lengths covered to make it look so real.

The CGI was stunning, the director was spot on, but without a cast of incredible actors, a film could be a total flop. Lucky for them, Neel Sethi, a twelve-year-old boy, became the perfect fit for Mowgli, and rightly so. He was incredible.

This was Sethi’s first “big” job, but boy did he deliver. This young actor had to work in all of the varied conditions that Favreau threw at him, like working with puppets, climbing on logs, pouring rain, muddy feet, and much more. He was also the only actor to actually be on-screen, the rest just provided their voices.

Favreau and Sethi

Neel Sethi and Director John Favreau (Image courtesy of hollywoodreporter.com

 

I could go on and on about the magic that Neel Sethi created on-screen, but there was also some spectacular voice actors that were included in the film.

Scarlett Johansson voiced the mysterious snake Kaa and Bill Murray was here as the lovable bear Baloo.  Idris Elba brought the terrifying tiger Shere Khan to life and Ben Kingsley did the same for the protective panther Bagheera. Besides these great actors, The Jungle Book also had Christopher Walken as the king of the swingers, King Louie, and Lupita Nyong’o as the lovable wolf-mother, Raksha.

One thing that I really appreciated in this live-action movie was the fact that the audience got to know the characters a lot better. Going into the movie, I really only knew about Baloo and Mowgli, having forgotten the other characters. But in this movie, every character was memorable, even the little wolf pups.

One character that I got to know a lot better is Bagheera. He became much more important to the story line, and was personally my favorite character out of the movie. Another character the audience saw a lot more of was the wolves, especially Raksha. The audience got to see the beautiful bond between a mother and child, and it felt extremely heartfelt, and real.

Sethi with Raksha

Sethi with Raksha, who again was completely CGI!!! Image courtesy of Disney

 

Besides the skilled animating and story line, the music was also a huge part of why The Jungle Book was so successful. In the animated film, it was The Sherman Brothers that created most of the music in The Jungle Book, and Favreau wanted to keep that same integrity in the live-action version.

He even called in Richard Sherman to listen to the music that was being composed for the live-action movie. The live-action movie kept classic songs like The Bare Necessities, and I Wanna be Like You. I can say that The Bare Necessities fit right in with the movie, but King Louie’s song did seem a little out-of-place. However, it was too much of a classic to be omitted and it had to be incorporated into the film.

This movie deserves so much praise. It was not just a CGI masterpiece, or an incredible first performance of Neel Sethi, it was all of that and so much more. Favreau and the entire Walt Disney Productions team created a movie that included both elements of the animated film, as well as elements from the original book.

The Wolf Code, for example, was taken directly out of the book. Every moment of the film, even the credits (which were a wonderful production in and of themselves), was thought out, and sewn together seamlessly.

It was a darker side of the jungle, which may not be something that I would be showing the small ones, but explored new, intense elements that would not have been possible without the advances in CGI technology and the talent of these actors. Overall, The Jungle Book is a must see movie that if you have not seen, it should definitely be at the top of your to-do list!

Have you seen The Jungle Book? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!

Have a Magical Day!

~Marisa

Marisa Recker
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Marisa Recker

Marisa is 17 and lives in Washington. Although she travels to Disneyland every couple of months, she is a huge fan of anything and everything Disney, and you can catch up with her on Instagram (marisa_recker), and Twitter (@reckerwithane).
Marisa Recker
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2 thoughts on “Venturing Into the Jungle, A Look Inside Disney’s The Jungle Book

  1. I also had mixed feelings about this remake but I think you have convinced me to set them aside and go see this movie. Also looks like Disney is going all out on these types of live-action remakes so I better get with the program.

    • I am also pretty skeptical about that movie because I am not a huge fan of darker re-tellings of classic movies, but based on your review, I definitely need to watch it!!

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