The Jungle BookThe Jungle Book (1967) Feature Length Theatrical Animated Film by Dave Koch
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- Walt Disney Studios
- Animated Characters: Baloo the Bear, Bagheera the Panther, Mowgli the Man Cub, Shere Khan the Tiger, Kaa the Snake, King Louie of the Apes, Col. Hathi the Elephant, Buzzie, Hathi's Wife, Young Elephant, Vulture, Dizzy, Wolf, Rama, The Girl, Flunkey, Slob Elephant, Monkey, Ziggy.
- Awards: Academy Award Nominee, Best Original Song, "The Bare Necessities" (Music and Lyrics: Terry Gilkyson), 1967.
- Originally Released in 1967.
- Production Number: 2179
- Running Time: 78 minutes.
Cartoon Production Information:
Peet disliked the way the film was escalating into a full-scale musical (perhaps wanting it to progress along simpler lines, as in his "Sword in the Stone" script just before), and left Disney to write and illustrate children's books full-time.
The voice casting for this film was over the top. Many people felt comedian Phil Harris was totally wrong for a Kipling story, but that did not deter Walt. Harris improvised most of his lines, as he considered the scripted lines "didn't feel natural." Following Harris' casting, Disneyland Records president Jimmy Johnson suggested Disney get Louie Prima to voice the wild King Louie, and a memorable musical sequence ensued. Many Disney regulars were brought in, such as Sterling Holloway (Kaa), J. Pat O'Malley (Colonel Hathi, Buzzie the Vulture) and Verna Felton (Hathi's wife).
In what would have been a major coup, Walt originally cast The Beatles as the four mop-topped vultures. Walt wanted to have the members of the band to both voice the characters and sing their song, "That's What Friends Are For". John Lennon reportedly reacting badly to the idea, resulting in the whole thing being dropped.
Director Wollie Reitherman reused some of his animation of the dogs from One Hundred And One Dalmatians for the wolf cubs. The animation was again done by xerography, with Ken Anderson's character design using rough, hairy edges to the characters in contrast to the more rounded animals seen in earlier productions such as Dumbo. Anderson also modeled Shere Khan on his voice actor, George Sanders.
This was the first animated Walt Disney Studios to be released after Disney himself died in December 1966. However, most of the film was completed before the time of his death. It also was Disney voice actress Verna Felton's last film before she passed away.
The soundtrack LP for The Jungle Book was awarded the first Gold Record for an animated movie soundtrack (Gold Records were given for selling over 500,000 copies).
This was the 19th film in the official Disney list of animated films.
One of the reasons for this economy of storytelling was the way in which the voice artists were allowed to work. Walt Disney himself had suggested the offbeat casting of popular radio and film star Phil Harris as the easygoing Baloo. Equally strong, personality-defining voices were provided by George Sanders as Shere Kahn, Sterling Holloway as Kaa, Louis Prima as King Louie, and Sebastian Cabot as Bagheera. Director Woolie Reitherman allowed the voice actors latitude to ad-lib and alter their lines to suit their own personas and speech rhythms. The story was altered as the actors worked, both individually and with each other.
Although successful, this experimentation proved costly and time-consuming. An entire sequence invoking the character of a rhinoceros was developed and eventually abandoned, since there was nowhere in the story sequence where the episode fit comfortably.
Released ten months after Walt Disney's death, The Jungle Book garnered some of the strongest reviews of any Disney animated feature since the 1940's (somewhat biased, no doubt, by the recent death of Disney). The film was a popular favorite too, and a smash at the box office.
With The Jungle Book, the designers at Disney were able to enmesh the hard-lined visual style made necessary by the use of the Xerox(tm) camera with the visual lushness required of the story setting. The jungle is rendered with a depth, color, and mystery that enhance the tale. The characters are allowed to function on a different graphic level, which serves to push them forward in the screen plane, and make them seem more "animated."
The character animation triumphs in The Jungle Book probably begin with the lumbering hep-cat Baloo, whose vocal richness inspired much of the characterization finally animated by Disney legends Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.
Frequent Disney voice artist Sterling Holloway's infectious performance of the lisping snake Kaa so enthralled Walt Disney that he had the character brought into the story again later in the film.Shere Kahn is an equally inspired match of vocal to character development: the lugubrious arrogance, cutting wit, and sheer power of George Sanders' reading informs the same traits in Milt Kahl's animation of the character.
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