The Jungle Book
The Jungle Book was inspired by the stories about the feral child Mowgli written by Rudyard Kipling. The stories were first published in magazines in 1893–94, and subsequently, with others, as a collection, entitled The Jungle Book, in 1894.
Released on 18th October 1967, the film was the 19th animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series. The movie contains a number of classic songs, including The Bare Necessities and I Wan'na Be Like You. Most of the songs were written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman.
Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, The Jungle Book was the last to be produced by Walt Disney, who died during its production. Through its original release, and two further cinema releases, the film became Disney's highest grossing cartoon, and is undoubtedly one of the greatest animated films of all time, appealing to children and adults alike.
About the Film
Mowgli is found as a baby in a basket in the deep jungles of Madhya Pradesh, India. Bagheera the black panther, who discovers the boy, promptly takes him to an Indian Wolf who has just had cubs. She raises Mowgli along with her own cubs.
Later, when the wolf tribe learns that Shere Khan, a man-eating Bengal tiger, has returned to the jungle, they realise that Mowgli must be taken to the 'man village' to protect him and those around him. Bagheera volunteers to escort him back.
During the journey, Mowgli meets up with a whole host of jungle residents, some friendly, some not so: characters such as Baloo, the fun-loving bear; Kaa, a hungry Indian Python; Hathi, leading the elephant dawn patrol; King Louie, the orangutan; the Vultures, who curiously resemble the Beatles; and Shere Khan himself.
At the end of the story, Bagheera and Baloo take Mowgli to the edge of the man village. Mowgli is hesitant to go in, but his mind soon changes when he is smitten by a beautiful young girl from the village who is coming down by the riverside to fetch water. After noticing Mowgli, she 'accidentally' drops her water pot. Mowgli retrieves it for her and follows her into the man village, in love.
Apart from the charming story and the magnificant animation, the film features a number of classic songs, including The Bare Necessities, I Wan'na Be Like You, Trust in Me and Colonel Hathi's March.
Background to the Film
Disappointed by the reception of The Sword in the Stone, Walt Disney was determined to give the opportunity for his animators to do their best work. He assigned Larry Clemons as one of the four story men for the film. Giving him a copy of Kipling's book, Disney told him: "The first thing I want you to do is not to read it."
Disney counted on the characters to drive the story. Many familiar voices inspired the animators in their creation of the characters and helped them shape their personalities. This use of familiar voices for key characters was a rarity in Disney's past films.
Disney took an active role in the story meetings, acting out each role and helping to create jokes. It was the last animated film from the company to have his personal touches.
The vultures bearing a physical and vocal resemblance to The Beatles was
a result of the band nearly singing songs for the movie and voicing the
vultures themselves. Manager Brian Epstein, who died from an accidental
drug overdose less than two months before the film's release, had approached
Disney about having the band appearing in the movie without asking the
band first. Once Epstein informed John Lennon about it, he immediately
vetoed it and told Epstein to "tell Disney to look for Elvis Presley
instead". Nevertheless, the vultures still appeared like the band,
including the signature mop-top haircut. Ironically, the Beatles had started
to phase out the haircuts around this time, with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely
Hearts Club Band having been released that June and signifying the band's
departure from that hairstyle.