Walt Disney was a man who believed in creating enjoyable and entertaining experiences that everyone could enjoy. Sadly, when he died, a huge loss of creativity was taken from the world as literally everyone mourned his tragic passing. His presence in the world in the world of animation is still felt even to this day. The last animated film to receive his blessing was the 1967 feature “The Jungle Book”, loosely based on the novel by Rudyard Kipling. The movie has since been ingrained into popular culture, and everyone has at least seen or heard of this version. Although, looking at the film now, one can definitely see that there are some issues with it. “The Jungle Book” is a humble feat in terms of its legacy, but it is nothing short of spectacular.
The story, set in the jungles of India, follows a young boy named Mowgli adapting to the surroundings that have been given to him since he was left there and raised by wolves. Mowgli seems to be doing just fine, until the presence of Shere Khan- a tiger- is threatening his very existence. Shere Khan will kill Mowgli because of his hatred towards humans. Now, Mowgli is caught in a difficult dilemma: either try to fend off Shere Khan by himself, or, the most logical choice, head back to the man village where he belongs and does not pose as a major threat.
“The Jungle Book” is most definitely a movie based on sheer nostalgia. What this statement translates to is that the movie is definitely part of the early to last years of Walt Disney’s life, as well as where the future of the company’s animation would continue. Plus, it became memorable due to the last film that Walt was actually involved with, the movie has gotten some notoriety because of this. The reason behind this is that the characters are memorable as well as the songs done by the Sherman brothers, with the exception of ‘The Bare Necessities’ by Terry Gilkyson. The animation is good in that the characters are designed well, and the backgrounds have lush jungle landscapes that reflect the environment. The sound effects, along with the musical score, make the movie stand out very well. So, on a technical level, “The Jungle Book” is fairly good.
However, that’s not to say that there are come problems with the movie. For one thing, the story is very lighthearted in tone, which is typical of a Disney production, but it is a major contrast to the original novel, which is much more darker than what is presented here. And while we do have some dramatic moments, they are few and far between. Most of the time, the action is solely focused on comedy. Another problem is that while the characters are memorable, they are only on screen for a brief period of time, i.e. King Louie, who only gets about five minutes of screen time. (Yes, I’m well aware of the fact that Louis Prima who did the voice was a huge star, and had a busy schedule as well, but it would have been nice to see more of the character.) Finally, the film could have gone on a bit longer, and put more emphasis onto these characters, as well as adding a bit more dramatic moments that would make the film stand out a lot better.
In the end, is “The Jungle Book” really the masterpiece in which everyone praises as the last animated film Walt Disney worked on worth mentioning? Yes and no. It has the distinction of being the version of Kipling’s story that pretty much everyone knows. But that original story done by Kipling is far superior than what we’ve got. Walt Disney had a clear mind for producing movies, but this one is up in the air.