The Jungle Book (1967)

The Jungle Book
Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman
Written by Larry Clemmons, Ralph Wright, Ken Anderson and Vance Gerry, based on the Mowgli stories by Rudyard Kipling
(number 410)

I think I mostly saw this as a teenager when they re-released it and my sister bought it. We watched it a lot. I still think there’s a bit where Baloo says ‘shit’ but it’s possibly ‘kid’. Hard to say… I like the book, which I read a couple of years ago after the Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. This is a kinder adaptation with some very catchy songs, and I think it does a good job of glossing over the more disturbing bits of the book.

My favourite moment of the rewatch was the intro to the vultures, and I yelled ‘It’s the Beatles!’ and Blair kind of chuckled uncomfortably, but once they started talking he was flabbergasted. Yeah, I really don’t know why the Beatles are in this movie as a barbershop quartet of vultures, but they really are, liverpool accents, haircuts and all. It’s pretty amusing, and they’re useful to the story too, giving Mowgli backup during the climactic fight with Shere Khan.

I’m a little disturbed that the voice of Kaa the snake is the same voice as Winnie the Pooh, but he does get a good creepy song.

Does it make me love the people? I… really like Bagheera and Shere Khan … and the latter is the villain. But he’s so damn cool! Bagheera’s long suffering caretaker role is easy to sympathise with as an adult, but I’m sure as a kid you’re meant to roll your eyes at him the way Mowgli does.

It’s a sweet story. I was always vaguely bothered by Mowgli’s red nappies, but it’s hard to dislike him. He’s doing what we all wished we could do as kids (well, me anyway), living in the jungle with talking animals and doing whatever I wanted. Having a bear to cuddle up to. It’s a pretty good life.

Bechdel test: One named female elephant (Winifred) and one unnamed girl.. so… no. All the animals of the jungle are male. The human girl at the end is shown to be mysterious and intriguing, rendering Mowgli entranced with her song about how someday she’ll be married and cooking while her husband is out hunting. There’s something almost sexual in the close ups of her gaze and the way she plays with her hair, which is a bit uncomfortable to me.

Best line:

“And don’t spend your time lookin’ around
For something you want that can’t be found
When you find out you can live without it
And go along not thinkin’ about it
I’ll tell you something true
The bare necessities of life will come to you”

State of Mind: Like most Disney films, it’s reliably enjoyable to watch many times. There’s a lot to like in this movie, and the catchy songs are right up there.

sing it with me!

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