Review #41 The Jungle Book

The_Jungle_Book_a__55539.1373769098.1280.1280Director: Wolfgang Reitherman

Starring: Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot and Bruce Reitherman

Certificate: U

Running time: 78 minutes

THE JUNGLE BOOK is one of Disney’s timeless classics, and was famously the last film Walt Disney worked on before he died in 1966. Based on Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’ short stories, written in 1894 and inspired by his time in India, the plot centers on Mowgli, a ‘man-cub’ raised in the jungle by wolves and befriended by a myriad of wild animals. But, the fierce tiger Shere Khan has returned to the jungle and the animals fear for Mowgli’s safety, so the council of wolves decide it is best that Bagheera, the panther, returns Mowgli to the nearest village.

THE JUNGLE BOOK is a wonderful film that you most probably first saw during childhood. As we follow Mowgli’s adventures through the jungles we never tire of the friends he meets and the songs they sing to him. It’s also a great film from which to learn some life lessons, whether it’s the ‘bare necessities’ or being taught by King Louis the monkey how to swing through the trees. Compared to more modern musicals the songs don’t drag on too long, which is a testament to the standard of music and lyrics.

The movie has its scary moments, even to watch as an adult, with some dark, sinister scenes. It’s pretty haunting when Mowgli first encounters the hypnotic snake Kaa, who coils around him in an effort to swallow him whole, and Shere Khan the tiger’s slow, slithering movements could prove haunting for a child. However, this Disney aren’t afraid to include a scary scene or two in an animated film, think of Scar and Mufasa in THE LION KING, the evil witch in SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARVES and Cruella Deville in 101 DALMATIONS.

These blu-ray releases are a great way to revisit Disney classics and you may even pick up on different things, for example when Mowgli meets the vultures, it might dawn on you that they look and sound an awful lot like four pretty famous singing Liverpudlians. The film has a little something for everyone and at no point does THE JUNGLE BOOK feel tedious or dumbed down for the younger members of the audience and there are plenty of moments to make you chuckle, such as when an elephant claims he won the Victoria Cross.

Walt Disney strived to have animated films be both critical and commercial successes after THE SWORD AND THE STONE somewhat flopped a few years earlier. Given that nearly 50 years after its release we are still talking about and watching THE JUNGLE BOOK it’s fair to say it’s stood the test of time.

Four stars. I didn’t go see the sequel because I was 99% sure that would ruin it for me.

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