As a film The Jungle Book holds up just as well today as it did in the late sixties, re-watching it I was again taken by the wonderful characters, fantastic music and beautiful backdrops. It honestly leaves more recent Disney offerings, such as Frozen, for dead!
One of my favourite things about old Disney films is the beautiful backdrops, they are literally like watching a painting come to life. They are visually stunning films.
The Jungle Book fully captures the mysterious beauty of the jungle, its eeriness and its danger. It also has some of the strongest characters in any Disney film, even minor ones, such as the elephants and the vultures are integral and enjoyable (especially the Beatle-esque vultures!). Baloo, is and always has been, my favourite. He's a free spirit, with a gentle heart and a loyalty that exceeds differences and fear. In many ways the film encapsulates the free spirit and nostalgic sadness of the sixties.
It's a powerful story of friendship, and on a more subtle level, it is a look at the relationship between man and beast. There is a touch of sadness as Mowgli returns to the man village. What will he grow up to be? Will he use fire the way other men have?
Also I'm pretty sure this has one of the greatest soundtracks of any Disney film ever! I do feel Disney has lost some of the magic it once had, I'm probably alone in this belief, but their more recent films are just not as wonderful as the old ones. I think they lack a visual beauty and an honesty.
But now for some fun little facts!
If you thought the vultures where like The Beatles you wouldn't be wrong. Originally The Beatles were asked to do the voices of the vultures but they turned it down. Still Disney kept with the theme and in the final film they bear more than a passing resemblance to the mop-topped Liverpudlians.
Shere Khan was voice by George Sanders, whom you may remember as Addison DeWitt in All About Eve.
And if Baloo's voice sounds familiar that's because he was voice by Phil Harris who also voiced Thomas O'Malley in The Aristocrats and Little John in the animated Robin Hood.
Bruce Reitherman, who voiced Mowgli, was the son of the director.
And finally The Jungle Book was the final film that involved Walt Disney, he died during production.
So if you haven't seen this film for awhile it's time for a re-watch, and if you have never seen it you are in for a treat-it's truly one of the finest films of any genre.