Monday, March 29, 2010

Walt Disney Animation Studios Part 19: Jungle Book

Series Intro: Series Intro: Here is Part 19 of a multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors. They will mostly be in release date order, save for those that are not available on DVD at Netflix. (Numbers skilled will note missing movies that will be out of order)

Some background information: (compiled from Wikipedia and imdb and my own knowledge of the movie).

Official Title: Jungle Book
Release: October 18, 1967
Running Time: 78 minutes
Estimated Cost: I couldn’t find anything concrete
Estimated Revenue: $73 million 1967 ($479,157,355.62 (2010))
Overall Rating: 1 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:

Mowgli, a boy left in the jungle, is raised by a wolf pack, until Shere Khan – a tiger – decides to hunt the boy – for Khan is anti-human and believes Mowgli will ruin the jungle. So Bagheera, a black panther, takes on the task of removing Mowgli from the jungle.

But Mowgli will have none of the man’s village. He refuses to leave, and misadventure ensues as Mowgli is persued by Kaa, the python, meets a troop of elephants, befriends sloth bear Baloo and is kidnapped by the ape, King Louie.

Baloo and Bagheera go at it, as Baloo insists he’ll take care of Mowgli, that is until Bagheera inform Baloo about Shere Khan. That’s when Baloo agrees that Mowgli needs to go the man’s village.

Shere Khan attacks Mowgli as he is encountering four vultures. Baloo helps save the day and almost dies. But finally they arrive at the man’s village where young Mowgli gives into temptation (his carnal desires that is) and follows a young girl back while Baloo and Bagheera watch on as two parents seeing their child off to college.

Colonel Hathi's March
The Bare Necessities
I Wan'na Be Like You
Trust in Me
That's What Friends Are For
My Own Home

Bare Necessities and Be Like You move into the Disney musical cannon as they are songs of hope and desires that can be found throughout many of the movies.

Plot Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Despite the low overall rating, this plot wasn’t too bad. The short vignettes were carried well as Bagheera and Mowgli traveled through the jungle for Mowgli’s own safety. The story was well written. I would have totally scrapped the “Beatles” bit (especially since they weren’t able to provide the voices).

Animation Rating: 1 out of 5

I wish I had decided to rate from zero instead of one. This movie was so poorly drawn.

For example, look at the two stills below. The one on top is from Bambi and below is Jungle Book. Do you notice the lack of depth and design? It’s crazy how poorly drawn this movie is. Bambi's art is more clear and light, has more character and texture. Jungle Book is darker (because they dedicated less time to it). Notice how each scene has a dark tree in the forward left; in Bambi you can see the bark, while in Book it's just shadow.The background art was just one of the many things that made this movie unwatchable.

The use of Xeroxing really took away the cleanliness of previous
films. While endearing in 101 Dalmations it was sloppy and lazy in Jungle Book.

The Test of Time:

Why isn’t this movie more represented in the parks? Adventureland is supposed to take place in a jungle, but no Jungle Book. Although I ran into Baloo and King Louie in Animal Kingdom, there could have been many more references to this movie.

I don’t think this movie has stood the test of time. It was the first of several movies that started recycling characters, voices and plots.

I also couldn’t relate to Mowgli, he was being a spoiled child and I felt frustrated the entire movie as I felt more connected to Bagheera and his desire to keep Mowgli safe.

Through the Modern Lens

Again, I think the Beatles reference really dated this movie, but I don’t think there was anything inherently wrong with it. I am please for Disney to have shown a non-white character as a lead. Although during the “shorts/packaged” films there were several Latino/Latina characters, this was the first time to have a feature length movie with an ethnic character (and one that wasn’t just a stereotype)! Kudos to Walt and WDAS for finally breaking their “white” mode.

Next Up:

In the WDAS timeline would be: Aristocats; because of a Netflix mistake, it’s Sword In The Stone.


Pete L said...

You have the word of Bagheera!

janice said...

Mowgli, a boy left in the jungle, is raised by a wolf pack.

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Davenz said...

Mowgli, a boy left in the jungle,

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