The Jungle Book
Walt Disney for Walt Disney Productions
directed by Wolfgang Reitherman
starring the voices of Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, Bruce Reitherman, George Sanders, Sterling Holloway, Louis Prima, J.Pat O'Malley, Verna Felton, Clint Howard, Chad Stuart, Lord Tim Hudson, John Abbott, Darleen Carr, Ben Wright
screenplay by Larry Clemmons, Ralph Wright, Ken Anderson, Vance Gerry, based on the story Mowgli from The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, music by George Bruns, songs by Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman, song The Bare Necessities by Terry Gilkyson, directing animators: Ollie Johnston, Milt Kahl, John Lounsbery, Frank Thomas
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One day while strolling the jungle, panther Bagheera (voiced by
Sebastian Cabot) stumbles upon Mowgli, an abandoned human baby, and
instead of letting the poor creature die, he brings it to a local wolf
family that had just a bunch of kids of their own and won't mind bringing
up one more.
Fast forward 10 years: Mowgli (voiced by Bruce Reitherman)
was brought up in the jungle, never having seen another human soul, and
his similarities to humans as such are purely superficial. Yet the wolves
want to abandon him because the mighty tiger Shere Khan (George Sanders)
has moved to the neighbourhood - and he is known to wanting to kill all
humans ... and everyone who stands in his way. Desperate to save young
Mowgli, Bagheera agrees to bring him back to a nearby human village, where
he can live amongst his own kind. When Mowgli learns about Bagheera's
plans though, he makes a getaway, hooks up with sloppy and carefree bear
Baloo (Phil Harris) and looks forward to a carefree life - even if it is
interrupted by a treacherous snake (Sterling Holloway) and a mad monkey
king (Louis Prima).
Eventually though, Bagheera convinces Baloo that
it's best for the boy to go to the village of humans for his own sake, and
Baloo has to agree even if it breaks his heart.
When Mowgli learns
though that Baloo has sided with Bagheera, he runs away again, and
somewhere in the darkest corner of the jungle teams up with four vultures
- when Shere Khan shows up and readies himself for the kill. Thow Mowgly
faces the tiger as bravely as can be, he is of course no match for the
beast, and only the vultures and braver-than-expected Baloo can save
Mowgli's life before the boy actually manages to chase away the tiger
using fire ... But the fight seems to have killed Baloo - seems to,
because after Bagheera, who has missed the fighting, has given a fine
speech to a fallen friend, it turns out the bear's not dead at all ...
the end, there is no more need for Mowgli to go to the village of humans,
but when he spots a human girl nearby, Mowgli is immediately fascinated
and changes his position about the whole affair.
Being the last
animated feature Walt Disney has personally laid hands on, The Jungle
Book is certainly not Disney's most ambitious film (though Disney's
ambitions did occasionally backfire on him), but in its unpretentiousness
and simplicity it's perfect family fun: The film consists of several
memorable setpieces held together by expert storytelling, the (uncheesy)
musical numbers all blend into the plot rather than interrupt it, the
characters are well-concieved and beautifully drawn, and all the central
voice actors are next to perfect. Add to this the fluid animation
techniques one has come to expect from Disney and you have got one really
enjoyable movie to watch with your kids - or even without them.
might have to accept though that the resemblances with Rudyard Kipling's
original story about Mowgli are rather slight though.)