Inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli story, Disney tells the tale of a young boy who is adopted and brought up by animals in the Indian jungle. All the elements are there that make an animated film a winner. Great but straightforward story, colourful animation, fun songs, and strong voice work. One of Disney’s classics!
Deep in the Indian jungle Bagheera (Sebastian Cabot – The Sword in the Stone) the panther comes across a basket containing a baby boy. Bagheera, wanting to save the infant, brings him to a wolf who has just had cubs. She raises the boy alongside her cubs. He has been named Mowgli (Bruce Reitherman) and has learned the way of the jungle as he grows up.
Ten years later he revisits the wolves he grew up with. They are happy to see him. That evening the wolf tribe learns that the tiger Shere Khan (George Sanders – All About Eve, Rebecca) has been lurking around. Shere Khan has earned a reputation as a man eater. The wolves realize that the only way they can ensure the safety of Mowgli is to return him to the man village. Bagheera volunteers to bring the boy to the village.
They leave right away, but Mowgli is determined to stay in the jungle so he deliberately loses the panther. He runs into Kaa (Sterling Holloway – Alice in Wonderland), a python. After hypnotizing Mowgli he wraps him up in his coils. Mowgli manages to escape being eaten and joins up with an elephant patrol. Bagheera finally finds him and the two old friends argue about where Mowgli is going. Mowgli runs away again. Bagheera has his paws full.
Mowgli runs into the fun loving bear Baloo (Phil Harris – The AristoCats, Rock-A-Doodle). Baloo shows Mowgli how fun a life in the jungle can be and they young boy is more determined than ever not to go to the man village. Shere Khan is near and where he is danger is never too far away.
This film was unfortunately the last one Walt Disney himself produced before his death in 1966. It still remains one of the best films made by his studio. It is a wonderfully light (with a couple of scary parts) adventure of the kind that is not made anymore. A coming-of-age tale that barely needs a story to sustain all the music and romping in the jungle.
All the characters in the film are memorable. Baloo the loveable bear who just lives to have fun. Everyone who has heard the song “Bare Necessities” is bound to sing along with it. Shere Khan is a scary villain and one of Disney’s best. Bagheera, the practical one with a big heart. Each character is given a chance to be in the spotlight with a great song to sing.
This is the type of animated film that will have you enraptured as a youngster and will succeed in growing up with you. You will age, but the film will not nor will your enjoyment of it decrease. A film for all ages.
- Introductions by Diane Disney Miller and Richard M. Sherman
- Alternate Ending: Mowgli and The Hunter
- @DisneyAnimation: Sparking Creativity
- Music, Memories & Mowgli: A Conversation with Richard M. Sherman, Diane Disney Miller and Floyd Norman
- Disney Intermission: Bear-E-Oke hosted by Baloo
- Bear-E-Oke Sing A Long
- I Wanna Be Like You: Hangin’ Out At Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Making Of
- Deleted Songs
- Digital Copy
- Bare Necessities
- Disney’s Kipling
- Deleted Character
- Music and More