Monday, October 27, 2008

Jungle Book Viewing

I "forced" my kids to watch Disney's The Jungle Book with me on Sunday, and of course, once they got into it (took them about 5 minutes) they were entranced.

I know from reading about Walt Disney that the making of this movie cost him one of his excellent story artists, Bill Peet, who resigned after Walt disapproved of his initial treatment of the story. Peet, following the Kipling book, had storyboarded a film that was not at all what Disney wanted to make. Walt told him, "That's the problem. I don't want to make Kipling's Jungle Book, I want to make Disney's Jungle Book." Walt felt that the only song in the movie that would work in his version was "The Bare Necessities", and that it needed to be funnier, as the original work was sort of depressing. (I've not read the Kipling version.)

Walt gave the project to Wolfgang Reitherman, and asked the Sherman Brothers to write the score. He asked the principle artists if they had read the book, and when they said no, he told them to keep it that way. He told them the story he wanted to make and apparently contributed extensively throughout the making of the film.

One interesting tidbit I remember reading was that Disney had actually come to an agreement with the Beatles' agent, Brian Epstein, to have the Fab Four do some songs in the movie. But John Lennon nixed it forcefully, stating that "There's no way The Beatles are gonna sing for Mickey blankety-blank Mouse!" I'd guess that all that is left of that idea are the four vultures who appear near the end of the movie. One of them sounds a lot like Ringo, to me.

This was also, apparently, the last film that Walt directly worked on. It was released on October 18. 1967, a few months after Walt's death.

I knew my boys would love this once they got into it. They're big into Star Wars and video gaming right now, but they're as much a sucker for a good story (and that's what you usually get from a Disney film) as their dad is. I still haven't been able to get them to commit to watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, though I suspect that I will one of these days, and when I do, I suspect they'll be enthralled by those tales too.


Future Guy said...

The Jungle Book is one of my favorites. Of course, it's not very politically correct how the apes all speak with African-American accents. I doubt Disney meant anything by it, but today it would ignite all sorts of controversy.

Scott said...

I never even thought of it! (I'm referring to the ape's accents.) I just thought they wanted a certain jazzy feel to those apes, and Louis Prima fit it pretty well! But you're probably correct - it would likely ignite controversy today.