The Jungle Book (1967) – movie review

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This 1967 animated adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s anthology book follows young Mowgli, a boy raised in the jungle by wolves since he was found in a basket by the river. Once the widely-feared tiger Shere Khan returns to the jungle, the wolves decide that for Mowgli’s sake, he be taken to a “Man-Village” by panther Bagheera. Along the way, Mowgli encounters many colourful characters, brilliant tunes and The Beatles. Interested?

In my review for the recent live-action (sort of) adaptation, I stated that the animated version is one of the rare perfect films and I stand by that. In keeping with recent reviews of other films I consider to be perfect (12 Angry Men and The World’s End), I’ve decided that I shall vent about yet another flawless film.

The Sherman Brothers are known for writing arguably the best music in Disney films (Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Aristocats) but I strongly believe that their best work is in The Jungle Book.

The songs are classic and endlessly replayable. Trust in Me, The Bare Necessities, That’s What Friends Are For and I Wan’na Be Like You are definitely up there in my list for the greatest songs in movies.

The Jungle Book seems a lot shorter than it actually is, but that’s because the pacing is perfect and the scenes that are being paced towards and from are all enjoyable, short and sweet.

Among these short yet highly enjoyable scenes are some brilliantly written and drawn characters. Baloo is one of the friendliest characters I’ve ever felt a connection with through a screen.

Bagheera is brilliantly animated and voiced but when I think of The Jungle Book, he doesn’t spark in the memory as much as others because he doesn’t sing anything. I don’t know why but if a character sings, I tend to remember them greater.

Shere Khan wasn’t exactly threatening to me as a viewer, but he was a believable threat to Mowgli. I believe that he was really just in the film so that the story could have some kind of conflict and so that the characters could reach the deeply emotional ending which I can’t help but tear up in every time I watch it.

King Louie may only be in the story so that we can get the audial masterpiece that is I Wan’na Be Like You (he wasn’t even in the original book so I’m fairly certain I’m correct) but his presence is welcomed with very open arms… every single time I rewatch the movie.

Kaa the snake is animated beautifully. The character’s brilliantly drawn movements coupled with Sterling Holloway’s slithery voice performance make for a perfect animated snake. Now that I think about it, that might not be saying much.

And my second favourite characters behind Baloo, the vultures. Buzzie, Flaps, Dizzie and Ziggy (yes, I know their names) were planned to be voiced by The Beatles (the film was released around Magical Mystery Tour) but after they turned down the role due to scheduling issues and Lennon’s general opposition to the idea, the vultures were still drawn and voiced in their image and… voice.

The vultures were 4 of my favourite animated characters growing up and since then, having become a greater Beatles fan than ever before, I see them in an even better light.

The story is paced so incredibly well that it doesn’t have a single dull frame in its runtime, the animation is colourful and full of beautiful movement, the voice-acting is impeccable, the characters are delightful and the songs are fantastic. There is literally no reason not to watch The Jungle Book. Unless you hate a good time.

The Jungle Book is like a constantly re-openable present because you open it, you love it, you want to open it again and guess what… you can.

What did you think of The Jungle Book? Leave your comment on the side and don’t forget to follow my Instagram page for movie posters.

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