Feature: The Jungle Book

Director Jon Favreau takes audiences on a wild ride back to the jungle.

Many strange tales are told of this Jungle. 

But none so strange as the tale of the cub we called Mowgli …

~ Bagheera

‘THE JUNGLE BOOK’ is an all-new, live-action epic adventure about Mowgli, a man-cub raised by a family of wolves. Based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories, “The Jungle Book” is inspired by Disney’s classic animated film, with an approach all its own. “We embrace the mythic qualities of Kipling in the more intense tonal aspects of the film,” says director JON FAVREAU, “but we left room for what we remember from the ’67 film, and sought to maintain those charming Disneyesque aspects.”

Filmmakers employed up-to-the-minute technology to tell the story in a contemporary and immersive way, blending live-action performances with stunning CG environments and extraordinary photo-real animal characters that artists stylized to elevate the storytelling. “‘The Jungle Book’ is a universal coming-of-age story that everyone can relate to,” says producer BRIGHAM TAYLOR. “Walt told the story through traditional cell animation and now we have the technology to actually bring these characters to life, make them photo-real and put a real kid into the environment in a seamless, believable way. The opportunity to be able to show that with today’s technology was irresistible.”

According to Favreau, story is king. “I think films have to offer an emotional experience for the audience,” says the director. “The spectacle won’t mean anything if they’re not engaged emotionally with the characters. Every story needs humanity, emotion and character development, as well as humor—presented in a way that doesn’t betray the stakes of the film. There are white-knuckle moments in the movie when you wonder, ‘What’s going to happen to this kid?’”

WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE

That’s the Mowgli way. That’s the Baloo way. That’s our way. That’s how we get things done.

~ Baloo

The characters and stories of “The Jungle Book” have reached people from all parts of the world. Bombay-born, English writer Rudyard Kipling channeled his love of India in 1894’s “The Jungle Book,” following with “The Second Jungle Book” in 1895. Though considered children’s books, the stories—with their lush landscapes and talking animals—sparked interest in young and old alike—often introducing readers to India for the first time.

Kipling’s stories have been adapted several times in the 12 decades that followed their publication. Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ animated movie, “The Jungle Book,” was overhauled when Walt Disney felt that early drafts, which retained the darker tone of Kipling’s stories, were too serious. Released on Oct. 18, 1967, a year after Disney’s death, the film became a beloved classic.

“The bond between Mowgli and Baloo made a very strong impression on me as a kid,” says Favreau. “It reminded me of my own relationship with my grandfather, who was a big part of my life. I really like that Mowgli is rambunctious, always getting into trouble. He isn’t the standard well-behaved kid, but a bit precocious—a ‘Dennis the Menace’ type.”

“In our version, if you’re a Disney fan, you’ll notice attention to detail that honours the film’s legacy,” says Favreau. “If you’re a kid seeing ‘The Jungle Book’ for the first time, you might forget to eat your popcorn, because it’s going to be a really fun ride.”

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