The Jungle Book is what Disney movies are all about. Actually, it is what Classic Disney movies are all about. So, it is wonderful to see the re-release of such a great film on DVD for a new generation of children to be delighted by the tale of Mowgli and his jungle friends.
The film, now out for its 40th anniversary, was first released in 1967. It was also one of the final films that Walt Disney worked on before he passed on. Disney really made the films a magical work of art. Taking the classic adventure novel by Rudyard Kipling of the same name, Disney transformed The Jungle Book into a family-friendly tale with comedy, heartwarming appeal, and joy for children around the world.
Book lovers might frown on the adaptation that Disney provided us with. However, the result is something perfect for kids. The end result offers some cool characters that have soul, rhythm, and charisma. The film revolves around Mowgli and the journey that he must take as he grows from a child into a man living in the jungle.
A lot of the film offers you the chance to see Mowgli playing with his best friend, Baloo (Phil Harris), the big lazy bear that has little ambition other than to have fun all day. Together the two go through life and a series of crazy adventures meeting a large cast of characters along the way that include a hip orangutan king named Louie (Louis Prima), a sensitive and loving mama tiger, Bagheera (Sebastian Cabot), and the fierce and serious tiger Shere Khan (George Sanders). The names of the animals were chosen because that is what they are in Hindi. Shere Khan means Tiger and Baloo means bear.
I was impressed by the image that the DVD offered. While it did not appear to be perfect in every way it was pleasing and free of scratches or wearing of time, like you might have expected with an older release like this. The sound was absolutely gorgeous. The songs were beautiful and came to life thanks to the good sound quality that was offered in this set.
As for the special features, even if you have a previous release of The Jungle Book you will want to purchase this new anniversary edition for the excellent special features. These two discs are absolutely crammed with more special tidbits than you could have ever hoped to find.
Richard Sherman (from the song writing team), Bruce Reitherman (Mowgli), and Andreas Deja (animator and fan) offer the full length feature commentary. Old archival recordings are also offered presenting commentary by Larry Clemmons (writer), Wolfgang Reitherman (director), and Ollie Johnston (animator). Disc one also offers trailers for some of Disney’s upcoming DVD releases. You will be offered trailers of Peter Pan: Return to Neverland, High School Musical 2, The Aristocats, Meet the Robinsons, Ratatouille, Enchanted, and Santa Clause 3.
The “I Wan’na Be Like You” music video is offered on the first disc, as well. Other first disc features include “The Lost Character: Rocky the Rhino”, a seven minute featurette about the character that got deleted from the film and the Disney Song Selection (lasting 13 minutes), along with an additional 21 minutes of Deleted Songs. That’s just disc one!
On disc two, which is specifically for special features (surprising since you receive so many on the first disc) you receive a 46 minute featurette, “The Bare Necessities: The Making of ‘The Jungle Book’”, a 15 minute featurette, “Disney’s Kipling”, a five minute clip, “Mowgli’s Return to the Wild”, and a four minute clip, “Frank & Ollie.” Also included are a set of DVD games that are designed around The Jungle Book, “Baloo’s Virtual Swingin Jungle Cruise”, “DisneyPedia: Junglemania!”, a languages game, and an art gallery with pictures of the film.
Depending on your age, The Jungle Book is something that you had a chance to grow up with. There is nothing more exciting than taking something from your childhood and watching your own children appreciate and gain excitement from the things that you once loved. The Jungle Book gives you a chance to watch a movie with your child the whole family can enjoy, along with the memories that you will provide, and the joy that comes in knowing that one day they will share the same movie and moment with their own children.
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