Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

The Jungle Book


Loosely based on Rudyard Kipling's beloved book The Jungle Book was the last film that's production was overseen by Walt Disney, who died of lung cancer ten months before the film's release.

The tale follows Mowgli (Bruce Reitherman) a 10 or 11-year-old "man cub" who has been raised in the jungle by wolves since he was found by panther Bagheera (Sebastian Cabot) as a baby. However, tiger Shere Khan (George Sanders) has returned and wants to kill Mowgli due to his hate for the human race. Bagheera is entrusted to take Mowgli to the nearby human village, but Mowgli doesn't want to go. Along the way they meet Baloo (Phil Harris) a bear who becomes instant friends with Mowgli and takes him under his paw. Mowgli also has run-ins with python Kaa (Sterling Holloway), who wants to eat him before Shere Khan can, and also ape King Louie (Louis Prima) who wants to use Mowgli to help him create fire.

Unlike Rudyard Kipling's book, which focuses on Mowgli's final days in the jungle and his journey home, the film focuses on the relationships he makes in his final 48-72 hours in the jungle, and it is this that makes it such an endearing classic Disney film. The bond between Mowgli and Baloo will really make you feel nostalgic for the days when you were a small child being doted on by your father, as will the relationship elephant Colonel Hathi (J. Pat O'Malley) and his son Junior (Clint Howard), as both relationships are so heart-warming and in both relationships the bond is such an affectionate one and is a truly accurate representation of a father-son bond as Mowgli and Junior really look up to Baloo and Hathi respectively, the way that boys always look up to their father figures in those first twelve years or so.

As for the rest of the characters, the film has some truly wonderful characters, brought to glorious cartoon anthropomorphic life by a fantastic ensemble of voice actors. Sanders will truly make your spine tingle as the cunning Shere Khan, thanks to his sly and sinister voice. In equal measures Holloway will really creep you out as the cunning python Kaa, and also make you laugh your socks off at his reactions to getting pushed out a tree by Mowgli (twice) and his fearful attitude to Khan, as well as his almost tantrums at getting outwitted by a human child, and the classic getting a knot in his tail. There is also some lovely comic relief from a moronic quartet of vultures (Buzzie - also voiced by O'Malley, Flaps - voiced by Chad Stuart, Dizzie - voiced by Lord Tim Hudson, and Ziggy - voiced by Digby Wolfe), who instantly befriend Mowgli. They have some wonderful comic moments and seeing their stupidity on screen in their conversations with each other is made even more funny by the fact they all speak with Liverpudlian accents, having been designed to look like The Beatles in an ingenious reference to '60s culture.

Couple these things with a witty, vibrant screenplay, and a wonderful soundtrack, that includes The Bare Necessities, I Wan'na be Like You and That's What Friends Are For, and you truly have one of the most wonderful Disney films of all time on your hands, and it is truly a tribute to the late, great man himself.

Bruce Reitherman, Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, George Sanders, Sterling Holloway, J. Pat O'Malley, Louis Prima, Chad Stuart, Lord Tim Hudson, Digby Wolfe, Ben Wright, Clint Howard, Verna Felton, John Abbott, Leo De Lyon, Darleen Carr, Hal Smith, Terry-Thomas.

Oscar nomination: Best Original Song (The Bare Necessities - Terry Gilkyson).

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