Voices by Bruce Reitherman, Sebastian Cabot, Phil Harris and Louis Prima
THE JUNGLE BOOK captures a very special place in my heart. It was my very first movie-viewing memory, and I recall feeling so enraptured by the unique story (and the experience of it all) that my uncle was excitedly opening my eyes to. It is perhaps thanks to THE JUNGLE BOOK that I spend the vast majority of my spare time watching movies. When it was announced that Disney would be releasing a restored version of the movie in a Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy package, abundantly filled with extras of course, I was salivating with anticipation (especially since it has been well over twenty-five years since I’d seen the movie).
Adapted from the classic tale by Rudyard Kipling, the animated film follows the adventures of Mowgli (Bruce Reitherman), the “man cub”, who has been literally raised by wolves. After ten years living amongst them, a council of wolves decide that they can no longer protect him against the villainous and deadly tiger, Shere Khan (George Sanders). They conclude that he must be brought to the “man village” by guardian panther, Bagheera (Sebastian Cabot), where he will live safely amongst his kind. A road trip of sorts ensues, wherein the pair befriend manipulative Kaa, the snake (Sterling Holloway), gentle Baloo, the bear (Phil Harris), swingin’ King Louie of the Apes (Louis Prima), and a pack of Beatles-esque vultures, just to name a few of the beloved characters.
Released in 1967, this was Walt Disney’s final production credit before passing away shortly thereafter. The hand-drawn watercolour compositions have been vividly revitalized for a modern audience accustomed to a more in-depth CGI structure. In fact, the animation plays a key role in several of the lengthy yet informative bonus features. Additionally, the timeless Sherman brothers songs, including classics, “The Bare Necessities” and “I Wa’nna Be Like You”, sound crisp and warmer toned than ever with the disc’s impressive 7.1 DTS-HD Master audio track. It was with great fun that I belted out five of the movie’s songs using the infectious Bear-e-oke special feature.
THE JUNGLE BOOK diamond edition Blu-ray is a joy to own and I feel very lucky and blessed to now be able to share it with a younger generation, as well as my younger self.