THE JUNGLE BOOK
THE JUNGLE BOOK was the final animated feature film to go into production during Walt Disney’s lifetime (he died before the film was completed) and features enough of the classic touches that made his name one of the most celebrated in all of animation. Beautifully realized in Technicolor and the multi-plane Disney styled animation, THE JUNGLE BOOK also features memorable songs and the unforgettable vocal talents of Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, Louis Prima, George Sanders, Sterling Holloway and J. Pat O'Malley. In typical Disney fashion, THE JUNGLE BOOK uses the tales of Rudyard Kipling as its inspiration and lightens things up to produce a more family friendly tale.
THE JUNGLE BOOK tells the story of Mowgli (Bruce Reitherman), a man cub orphaned in the jungles of India, who is found by a Panther named Bagheera (Sebastian Cabot), that turns him over to the wolves to raise him as one of their own. Years pass and the wolves learn that a man eating tiger named Shere Khan (George Sanders) is returning to their territory. As it is no longer safe for Mowgli to remain amongst the wolves, Bagheera offers to escort him to a nearby man village. Unfortunately, Mowgli doesn’t want to leave the jungle and Baloo the bear encourages him to remain, where "the bare necessities" of life will come to him. Before his inevitable encounter with Shere Khan, Mowgli runs across King Louie (Louis Prima) of the orangutans, not to mention the slithering snake Kaa (Sterling Holloway), who also wants to make a meal of man cub.
Walt Disney Home Entertainment has made THE JUNGLE BOOK available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Unlike the previous full screen edition, THE JUNGLE BOOK has been given an immaculate rejuvenation thanks to DTS Digital Images, who have brought the film back to pristine condition. Image sharpness and detail is absolutely first rate for a four decade old Disney animated production. Colors are strong and offer an accurate rendition of the muted color palette utilized for this feature. Blacks are deep, whites are crisp and contrast is just about perfect. Thanks to the digital cleanup film grain is virtually absent. Digital compression artifacts are always well contained.
THE JUNGLE BOOK comes with upgraded Dolby Digital 5.1 channel mix. The remixed soundtrack is really quite pleasing, maximizing everything available in the forty-year-old recordings. Fidelity is terrific for a film from 1967; however the top and bottom end don’t compare to today’s movies. The music is really pleasing and the songs sound better than I remember. The outlying channels are well utilized-, but the separations never seem overly forced or artificial. Dialogue is crisp and totally understandable. Almost all of the background hiss and other audible anomalies have been cleaned up in the mastering process. A cleaned up version of the film’s original theatrical soundtrack is also present on this release, as are French and Spanish language tracks. English subtitles are also present.
Animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental features spread across this two-disc set. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with composer Richard Sherman, artist Andreas Deja, and actor Bruce Reitherman, as well as archive interviews with members of the production team. The Lost Character: Rocky The Rhino offers a storyboard look at a character that didn’t make the final cut of the film. The Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund is a promo for the studio’s contributions to wildlife. Also included is a Music Video featuring The Jonas Brothers for the song I Wanna Be Like You. A Disney Sing-Along Selection and seven Deleted Songs by the film’s original composer Terry Gilkyson close out disc one.
Moving on to disc two, one will find the remainder of the supplemental programming. The Bare Necessities: The Making Of The Jungle Book is a forty-five minute documentary on the making of the film. Disney’s Kipling: Walt’s Magical Touch On A Literary Classic gives one a comparison between Kipling’s original tales and the Disney adaptation of the material. The Lure Of The Jungle Book shows the influence of the film those that came after it. Mowgli’s Return To The Wild documents what happened actor Bruce Reitherman, who voiced the man cub in the movie. Frank & Ollie is a short piece that looks at animators Ollie Johnson and Frank Thomas. Art Galleries, Games and Trailers close out disc two.
THE JUNGLE BOOK is another Disney classic that has been given an utterly superb presentation on DVD. Absolutely recommended.
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