The Jungle Book is a 1967 animated feature film, released on October 18 1967. The 19th animated feature in the Disney animated features canon, it was the last to be produced by Walt Disney, who died during its production. It was inspired by the stories about the feral child Mowgli from the book of the same name by Rudyard Kipling. The movie remains one of Disney's most popular, and contained a number of classic songs, including "The Bare Necessities" and "I Wan'na Be Like You". Most of the songs are by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. The film was directed by Wolfgang Reitherman and his son, Bruce Reitherman, provided Mowgli's voice.
Mowgli (Bruce Reitherman) is found in a basket as a baby in the deep jungles of Madhya Pradesh, India. In the Disney movie there is no mention of what happened to his parents or how he came to be there, but the basket was in half a boat in the middle of a river; it is most likely that his parents were washed downstream and drowned. Bagheera (Sebastian Cabot), the panther who discovers the boy, promptly takes him to a wolf who has just had cubs. She raises him along with her own cubs and Mowgli soon becomes well acquainted to jungle life.
Mowgli is shown ten years later, visiting the wolves and getting his face licked eagerly when he arrives. That night, when the wolf tribe learns that Shere Khan (George Sanders), a man-eating tiger, has returned to the jungle, they realize that Mowgli must be taken to the man village, to protect him and those around him. Bagheera volunteers to escort him back.
They leave that very night, but since Mowgli is determined to stay in the jungle things go a little astray. First Kaa (Sterling Holloway), the hungry Indian Python, hypnotizes Mowgli into a deep and peaceful sleep, traps him tightly in his coils and tries to devour him, but comically fails. The next morning, Mowgli tries to join the elephant patrol led by Hathi (J. Pat O'Malley). After that Mowgli and Bagheera get in an argument and then Mowgli runs away from Bagheera. Mowgli soon meets up with the fun-loving bear Baloo (Phil Harris), who shows Mowgli the fun of having a care-free life and promises not to take him to the man village.
Mowgli now wants to stay in the jungle more than ever. Before long, Mowgli is caught by a gang of monkeys and taken to their leader, King Louie (Louis Prima) the orangutan, who makes a deal with Mowgli that if he tells him the secret of making red fire like a human, then he would make it so he could stay in the jungle. However, since he was not raised by humans, Mowgli doesn't know how to make fire. King Louie doesn't believe him.
Mowgli is rescued from King Louie by Bagheera and Baloo, but soon runs away from them after Baloo realizes the man village is best for the boy and breaks his promise. After Mowgli runs away, Baloo and Bagheera split up to find him. Mowgli is lost so he can go hunting for him. Kaa, for a second time, hypnotizes Mowgli into a deep and peaceful sleep, and tries to eat him, but thanks to the intervention of Shere Khan, Mowgli escapes.
He encounters a group of solemn vultures (J. Pat O'Malley, Digby Wolfe, Lord Tim Hudson and Chad Stuart), who closely resemble the Beatles, and they say they'll be his friend. The vultures very comically argue about "what do you want to do?" and would side track Mowgli with their pointless arguments. Shere Khan appears shortly after, but when Baloo rushes to the rescue, together they manage to get rid of the ruthless tiger, when Mowgli ties a flaming stick on his tail (the stick was from a tree struck by lightning). Bagheera and Baloo take him to the edge of a man-village, but Mowgli is still hesitant to go in. His mind soon changes when a young girl from the village comes down by the riverside to fetch water.
After noticing the boy, she "accidentally" drops her water pot, and Mowgli retrieves it for her and follows her into the man village. After Mowgli chooses to stay in the man village, Baloo and Bagheera decide to head home while singing a reprise of "The Bare Necessities".
The Jungle Book theatrical release history
US release dates
Worldwide release dates
- Brazil: December 1, 1967
- Argentina: December 7, 1967
- Hong Kong: May 16, 1968
- Australia: June 13, 1968
- Japan: August 24, 1968
- U.K.: November 18, 1968
- France: December 4, 1968
- Sweden: December 9, 1968
- Italy: December 9, 1968
- West Germany: December 13, 1968
- Spain: December 16, 1968
- Austria: December 20, 1968
- Finland: December 20, 1968
- Denmark: December 26, 1968
- Norway: December 26, 1968
- Greece: January 17, 1969
- Kenya: February 18, 1969
- Guatemala: May 20, 1969
- Cambodia: October 11, 1969
- Mexico: February 15, 1970
- Bulgaria: August 14, 1970
- Eritrea: May 7, 1975
- Canada: June 23, 1978
- Kuwait: December 21, 2007
- Russia: December 21, 2007
The Jungle Book home video release history''
The Jungle Book
made its VHS
home video debut in Mexico
on October 31st, 1987. This 1987 release was dubbed in Spanish. The Jungle Book
was released in the United States on VHS in 1991 as part of the Walt Disney Classics
product line. The American version was subsequently re-released in 1997 as part of the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection
for the film's 30th anniversary. A Limited Issue DVD
was released by Buena Vista Home Entertainment
in 1999. The film was released once again as a 2-disc Platinum Edition
DVD on October 2
to commemorate its 40th anniversary. The Platinum Edition presents the film for the first time in 1.75:1 widescreen aspect ratio. This is the first Disney release titled "Platinum edition" in the UK instead of "Special Edition".
- Mowgli, voiced by Bruce Reitherman: the main character, a young jungle human raised by wolves. In the movie, Mowgli is featured as a 10 year old, which is around the age he was in Rudyard Kipling's book when he was first captured by the Bandar Log (monkeys). In the book, Mowgli managed to escape his parent's camp when they were attacked by Shere Khan the tiger, and he entered the wolves' den by himself. In the movie, he is found by Bagheera in a wrecked boat, perhaps after the attack of a crocodile, and Bagheera himself takes him to the wolves.
- Baloo, voiced by Phil Harris: a Sloth Bear who befriends Mowgli. He lives life according to his own rhythm. Baloo becomes Mowgli's best friend, and somewhat of a father figure to him, much to the annoyance of Bagheera who believes him to be an irresponsible and careless character. Baloo's design was obviously based on grizzly bears, even though these bears do not exist in India; however, Baloo does possess the more prominent, sloth-like claws distinctive to the Sloth bear. In Kipling's book, Baloo is said to be a "sleepy serious old brown bear" and was a more strict and conservative character.
- Bagheera, voiced by Sebastian Cabot: a Black Panther who first finds Mowgli, they become good friends. In the book, Bagheera spoiled Mowgli and was more of a mother figure to him, despite being male, but in the movie he is depicted as a smart, serious and often severe (though never violent) mentor that only wants to take Mowgli to safety.
- Shere Khan, voiced by George Sanders: a Bengal Tiger and the main antagonist of the movie. He is a known hater of man and seeks to kill Mowgli. Unlike the book version, the movie's Shere Khan is not crippled and is perceived as a very powerful character, feared by all other animals.
- Kaa, voiced by Sterling Holloway: an Indian Python around 9 meters long, who wants to eat Mowgli. As in Kipling's book, he has great hypnotic powers; however in stark contrast to the book, he is depicted as a somewhat comic and antagonistic character and during the movie manages to hypnotize Mowgli twice and Bagheera once. He even tries to hypnotize Shere Khan, but fails.
- King Louie, voiced by Louis Prima: an Orangutan who lives in an ancient ruined temple, he gets Mowgli so he can teach him the secret of fire. He was one of the characters created for the movie, for he doesn't appear in Kipling's book. (Orangutans went extinct in India in prehistoric times). He and his followers do share many similarities with the monkey-people of the original book, however.
- Colonel Hathi, voiced by J. Pat O'Malley: an Asian Elephant and leader of the elephant troop who is very pompous. A running gag in the movie is that Hathi says "elephants never forget", yet he manages to forget many things, including his own son. In the movie, Hathi seems to be a war elephant used in the Maharajah's army, who escaped to the jungle or was released. He recalls his days as a war elephant as his golden age and often talks about it, much to the annoyance of the other elephants.
- Buzzy, Ziggy, Dizzy and Flaps, voiced by J. Pat O'Malley, Digby Wolfe, Lord Tim Hudson and Chad Stuart respectively: four vultures, tightly based on "The Beatles". They befriend Mowgli because, according to them, they all are outcasts. In the Latin American dubbing of the movie, the vultures have each a particular accent; Spanish, Mexican, Argentinian and Cuban. Buzzy is bald, Ziggy has frizzy brown hair, Flaps has parted blond hair, and Dizzy has gray hair that covers his eyes.
- Junior, voiced by Clint Howard: the young son of Colonel Hathi who becomes friends with Mowgli.
- Rama, voiced by Ben Wright: an Indian Wolf who adopts Mowgli into his family.
- Akela, voiced by John Abbott: the leader of the wolf pack.
- Winifred, voiced by Verna Felton: the wife of Colonel Hathi and the only talking female animal in the movie. She gets bored hearing her husband's "Victoria Cross bit" over and over. At one point, it is revealed that she cares a lot about Mowgli and convinces her husband (Col. Hathi) to save Mowgli from being lost, or she'd take over the Elephant herd.
- The Elephants, are the many Elephants that are in Col. Hathi's herd of Elephants. They often get tired of the Colonel, and often tell Winifred and each other. One Elephant said "I'm putting in a transfer to another herd". Though they are very loyal, they don't like marching or doing missions, but are very strong and well-skilled.
- The Girl, voiced by Darleen Carr: a young Indian girl who lures Mowgli out of the jungle at the end of the movie. She was simply referred to as "The Girl" in the film's credits, but her name is revealed to be Shanti in the 2003 sequel, The Jungle Book 2, where she is voiced by Mae Whitman.
- Raksha, the mother of the wolf pack that raised Mowgli. She has no speaking lines, but used a smile to convince Rama to let Mowgli stay.
- Wolf Cubs, the wolf pups Mowgli grows up with. Some of them grow up alongside Mowgli, and are seen tackling Mowgli and licking him eagerly when he comes. Not voiced, only make barking sounds. There are five cubs, but there were four in the book.
- Flunkey, voiced by Leo De Lyon: King Louie's servant monkey, easily told apart from the other monkeys due to his wig-like white hair.
- Bandar-log : The monkey clan that took Mowgli to King Louie, so King Louie can ask Mowgli to tell him about red fire.
The film received an Academy Award nomination in 1967 :
Longtime Disney collaborator Terry Gilkyson was brought in to write the songs for the film. Gilkyson delivered several complete songs, but Walt Disney felt that his efforts were too dark and "too Kipling". The Sherman Brothers were brought in to do a complete rewrite, on the condition that they not read Rudyard Kipling's book. The only piece of Gilkyson's work which survived to the final film was his upbeat tune "The Bare Necessities".
The song "Trust in Me" is based upon a song entitled "Land of Sand" which had been written by the Sherman Brothers for, but not used in, Mary Poppins.
Part of "Bare Necessities" was remixed for the theme song of its short-lived 1990s TV spin-off, Jungle Cubs.
In the scene where Bagheera and Mowgli believe that Baloo is dead as well as Bagheera funerals Baloo, Paul J. Smith's organ score from Walt Disney's first film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is heard from the scene where the seven Dwarfs mourn Snow White on her bed before she is put into the glass coffin.
On Classic Disney: 60 Years of Musical Magic, this includes "Colonel Hathi's March" on the red disc, "The Bare Necessities" on the blue disc, "I Wanna Be Like You" and "Trust in Me" on the green disc, "That's What Friends Are For" on the purple disc, and "My Own Home" on the orange disc.
On Disney's Greatest Hits, this includes "I Wanna Be Like You" on the blue disc and "The Bare Necessities" on the green disc.
All of the below songs were the original songs by Terry Gilkyson
- "Brothers All" - Opening
- "The Song of the Seoneee" - Wolf Pack
- "Monkey See, Monkey Do" - Monkeys
- "I Knew I Belonged to Her" - Mowgli
- "In a Days Work" - unknown, possibly Villager
- "The Mighty Hunters" - Shere Khan & Buldeo the Hunter.
- Both songs Bare Necessities and That's What Friends Are For had demo versions that were changed. Bare Necessities had similar lyrics, but in different order. That's What Friends Are For was originally a rock and roll tune similar to The Beatles. Walt Disney however decided to change the style to a barbershop quartet so the song would sound timeless.
Viewers learn on the film's commentary that Shere Kahn's extremely low bass line at the end of That's What Friends Are For was actually supplied by Thurl Ravenscroft of The Mellomen; George Sanders, while Richard M. Sherman says is a very good singer, was unavailable for the recording that day. It is actually Bill Lee who does Shere Khan's line of the song at the end.
Differences Between the Mowgli Stories and the Film
When the Walt Disney
Company read The Jungle Book
, they decided to make it a more viewer friendly film and altered the story. Here are some main differences:
- Rama is simply Father Wolf in the book. His name in the film is an error; in the book, Rama is actually a bull from the cattle herd Mowgli had to drive when he lived in the man village.
- In the book, it is Father Wolf and Raksha who find Mowgli, not Bagheera as seen in the film.
- In the book, Bagheera spoiled Mowgli. He is more serious in the film.
- In the book, Shere Khan is killed by Mowgli and a herd of cattle. In the film, he does not die but runs away and tries to put out the flaming branch on his tail.
- In the film, Baloo is portrayed as a fun-loving, silly bear who cares deeply about Mowgli. In the book, he is described as the sleepy, serious bear who taught Mowgli on the Law of the Jungle.
- In the book, Kaa is one of Mowgli's close friends who rescues Mowgli from the Bandar Log, and tells him of the golden ankus, and helps fight the red dogs. In the film, he is a minor antagonist who wants to eat Mowgli.
- In the film, Kaa hypnotizes with his eyes. In the book however, Kaa hypnotizes through a dance that affects everyone but Mowgli.
- In the book, Hathi is a wise ruler of the jungle, while in the movie he is a pompous war elephant who often forgets things.
- In the book, Hathi has 3 children. In the film, he has only 1 child, a wife, and an equal amount of male and female herd members.
- Winifred and Junior are not present in the books. In the books, Hathi has no spouse, yet he has 3 sons.
- In the film, the monkeys are ruled by a king, King Louie, while in the book they make Mowgli their king
- The Vultures are not present in the book either. They were made to resemble The Beatles. The only bird that plays an important role in the book is Chil the Kite, who is not present in the film.
- Another character not present in the film is Tabaqui the Jackal. In the book, Shere Khan has a sidekick who is a mad cowardly jackal that scavenges the homes of others for scraps of food and such.
- The Wolves play a much bigger part in the book. In the film, the wolves are only in the beginning.
- In the book, Mowgli eats meat like his wolf brethren. In the film, he eats fruit like Baloo and King Louie.
- In the book, Mowgli realizes he needs to go back to human civilization. In the film, he desires to stay in the jungle until the end of the film.
- There is no girl that lures Mowgli into the village in the book. The main women character is a woman named Messua who adopts Mowgli.
- In the original book, there are short stories along with the Mowgli Stories. They list as follows:
- The White Seal: a story about an albino seal who searches for a new home.
- Rikki Tikki Tavi: a story about a mongoose who saves a family from cobras.
- Toomai of the Elephants: a story of Toomai, a ten-year old boy who helps to tend working elephants, is told that he will never be a full-fledged elephant-handler until he has seen the elephants dance.
- Her Majesty's Servants: a story of a British soldier eavesdrops on a conversation between the camp animals before a military parade.
- The Miracle of Purun Bhagat: a story of An influential Indian politician abandons his worldly goods to become an ascetic holy man. Later he must save a village from a landslide with the help of the local animals.
- The Undertakers: a story of a crocodile, a jackal and an adjutant crane, three of the most unpleasant characters on the river, spend an afternoon bickering with each other until some Englishmen arrive to settle some unfinished business with the crocodile.
- Quiquern: a story of a young Inuit hunter and his girlfriend set out across the arctic ice on a desperate hunt for food to save their tribe from starvation, guided by the mysterious animal-spirit Quiquern. But Quiquern may not be what it seems....
None of these stories could have been in the movie for the focus was on the Mowgli stories. The original Jungle Book screenplay by Disney Legend Bill Peet was a lot darker than the final film. His film also included another character from the original story, Buldeo the Hunter. But because Walt Disney disagreed on how the story should go, Peet left the studio on his birthday. This can all be seen on disk 2 of The Jungle Book Platinum Edition.