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"Here's the novel. Now the first thing I want you to do is not read it." — Walt Disney to his writing staff
The 19th entry into the Disney Animated Canon, released on October 18, 1967.Based on a collection of stories of the same name published around 1893 by Rudyard Kipling, Disney found The Jungle Book and loved at least some of its ideas, so they chose it for one of theirAnimated Adaptations. The result was and is widely considered a great Disney film, the best and perhaps most original animated Disney film of the 1960s. That said, this adaptation of The Jungle Book was one of the greatest cases of Adaptation Displacement in history, so great a case that Disney felt free to use some of Mowgli's friends and foes and rivals far, far away from the books and jungles where they were conceived, and so it considers them its own.One of Disney's most publicized features, the film spawned two Animated SeriesSpin-Offs: TaleSpin, an Anthropomorphic Shift Animated Series that puts three of the main characters from Disney's version of The Jungle Book into an Alternate Continuity, and Jungle Cubs, which focuses on the infant lives of the animal residents of the film. The Jungle Book also received its inevitable sequel titled The Jungle Book 2. In 2013, a stage version was produced; Disney was not directly involved (but might get involved if the show does well enough to get a Broadway run).Also notable for being the last Disney film made while Walt Disney was alive (although not the last he greenlit; that would be The Aristocats).
Tropes related to The Jungle Book (1967 movie) and The Jungle Book 2 (2003 sequel):
Adaptational Badass: Shere Khan in the film is far more menacing than he was in the original stories. On the other hand, Shere Khan in the original stories is smarter and a lot more influential, succeeding in turning almost the entire wolf pack against Mowgli and Akela.
Adaptational Villainy: Kaa was one of Mowgli's allies and mentors in the original book, saving him from the Bandar-log, giving him advice for battle against the dholes, and never threatening to harm him. In fact, Mowgli was the only character able to resist his hypnotic dance. In the movie, he's a more comical villain, but is a genuine threat to the level that Bagheera is afraid of him when he's angry. In the sequel, he's a Butt Monkey and loses almost all of his original menace. All the while, the python threatening to predate Mowgli sounds for all the world like Winnie-the-Pooh with a lisp, and well he should. See Hey, It's That Voice!, in the Trivia section.
Adaptational Wimp: Mowgli doesn't do much besides interacting with the more colorful animal characters and ultimately tying a flaming branch to Shere Khan's tail. In the original book his entire life is full of lessons and hardships about how to become a formidable predator, even though he's at a big disadvantage since he lacks the claws, fangs and muscles of the animals of the jungle, and in the end he's able to survive to grow into a man by becoming one of the smartest and strongest creatures the jungle has seen.
Also Kaa the python, who is a powerful Badass and much more deserving of respect in the book. He is the only animal in the jungle that the monkeys fear, and even Baloo and Bagheera are wary when approaching him.
Adaptation Personality Change: Many. Most obviously, Baloo and Bageehra essentially switch personalities, and Kaa becomes a conniving villain rather than a wise mentor for Mowgli.
Affably Evil: Nearly all of the Rogues Gallery have some amount of charm to their personality and valid reasons for their wrathful intentions (Kaa for food, Shere Khan for his hatred and self preservation from man).
Amusing Injuries: Kaa, when pushed off the branch, gets extreme whiplash, a knot in his tail, and has to walk his way off scene. Twice in as many days.
Analogy Backfire: When discussing the idea of letting Mowgli stay in the jungle...
Bagheera: The jungle is not the place for him. Baloo: I grew up in the jungle. Take a look at me! Bagheera: Yes, just look at yourself! Look at that eye!
Animal Gender Bender: Colonel Hathi leads the troop of elephants. In Real Life elephant bulls are solitary, and only enter a herd to mate, then leave once they've done their business.
Animal Talk: One of the few things that's more or less exactly the same as Kipling's original book is that all animals (and Mowgli) can talk to one another. This is taken one step further and goes to ridiculous extremes in the sequel, when both Shanti and Ranjan, who unlike Mowgli have not grown up in the jungle, also automatically understand the animals with no explanation.
Animation Bump: Milt Kahl's work with Shere Khan is a notable version of this.
Art Shift: Very noticable between the two movies. In The Jungle Book 2, the character designs are mostly the same, but they move slightly differently (most notably Mowgli, who is a lot more agile and often sports some animal-like movements he completely lacked in the original), the "hard scratchy outline" look from the original is replaced with the softer lines of modern Disney movies, and the jungle is overall a lot more lush and colorful.
Ascended Extra: Baloo was really supposed to only be a bit part in the original movie, but Walt Disney was so impressed with Phil Harris's vocal performance that the bear was promoted to a major character.
Cats Are Snarkers: Bagheera the panther is easily the snarkiest character in the movie, and Shere Khan the tiger, though he doesn't get many lines, comes across as at least somewhat snarky as well.
Mowgli: You don't scare me. I won't run from anyone. Shere Khan: Ah, you have spirit for one so small. And such spirit is deserving of a sporting chance. Now, I'm going to close my eyes and count to ten. It makes the chase more interesting... for me.
Character Exaggeration: Between movies. Kaa's incompetence and cowardliness are greatly exaggerated in the second movie to the point where he becomes something of a Butt Monkey, whereas in the first he was genuinely menacing yet constantly unsuccessful, and his general fear of Shere Khan (the same as everyone else) is exaggerated to not being able to form full sentences around him.
Which is an especially ridiculous exaggeration considering Kaa was the only character (besides the elephants who Khan would just avoid) that Shere Khan had anything to fear from. Yes, Baloo tried to fight him because he cared about Mowgli, but was clearly outmatched. But Shere Khan was only able to save himself from hypnosis by Kaa thanks to a very quick reaction.
King Louie, despite his Ensemble Darkhorse status and appearances in previous media such as TaleSpin and Jungle Cubs, does not appear in the sequel (allegedly due to fears of a lawsuit issued by Louis Prima's widow over caricature of his voice).
Kaa's more villainous characterization has a few notable character traits more similar to, ironically, Shere Khan's book incarnation (a cunning Manipulative Bastard who is, however, somewhat arrogant and pathetic).
Much lower scale example, Mowgli's father (merely Father Wolf in the book) is referred to as Rama, the name of an unrelated bull character in the original stories.
The wolves, despite their prominent role raising Mowgli in the original book, only appear at the beginning of the original film and do not appear at all in the sequel or spin offs. Akela in particular: easily one of the most important characters in the book, here he appears for only a single scene and winds up being incredibly forgettable (he also gets a key appearance in an episode of Jungle Cubs however).
Bagheera in the sequel. Though he's one of the most important characters in both Kipling's book and in the original movie, in the sequel he's barely involved in the plot and only shows up to get beat up a lot.
Disneyfication: As the quote atop the page shows, Disney was aiming for a Lighter and Softer flick instead of following Kipling too much - complete with ditching (for delivering material deemed too dark) both the writer (who had worked on all Disney features that far) and the composer (though a cheery tune he delivered was kept and became the film's Signature Song, "The Bare Necessities").
Humiliation Conga: Happens to Kaa - he is pushed off of a tree, hitting his head several times, gets a knot in his tail, and the momentum causes him to fold up like an accordian. Mowgli is quite amused.
Indy Ploy: Baloo's plan to rescue Mowgli from the monkeys.
Ink-Suit Actor: Baloo, Shere Khan, and King Louie are heavily based on their respective voice actors (Phil Harris, George Sanders, and Louis Prima). Also, Mowgli's animation is based on Bruce Reitherman, at times employing Rotoscoping.
At one point in the Kipling stories, Kaa the python hypnotizes a troupe of monkeys into becoming his helpless (ahem) dinner guests; later on, Mowgli singes Shere Khan's fur with a burning branch, and when that fails to get rid of him, Mowgli and the wolves stampede a herd of water-buffalo over him. As if that wasn't enough, in the story "Red Dog", Mowgli causes the marauding dogs of the title to be attacked by millions of angry bees; those who survive this by jumping into the river are attacked by Mowgli with a knife, and any that are left must then face Mowgli and his enraged wolf pack. Incidentally, Mowgli does most of this while he's naked. It should come as no surprise that none of this makes it into the Disney version.
Using fire against Shere Khan does show up in the movie. The branch was tied to his tail, but he was never directly singed. Well, not that we see, at least...
Bagheera: But Shere Khan the tiger! He's sure to pick up the boy's trail! Hathi: Shere Khan? Nonsense, old boy. Shere Khan isn't within miles of here! Shere Khan: (in the brush behind them) (laughs)
I Will Tear Your Arms Off: When Baloo and Bagheera are trying to rescue Mowgli from King Louie and the apes, Baloo actually tells himself, "I'm gonna tear him limb to limb..."
Knight of Cerebus: Shere Khan. As Affably Evil as he is, his appearance in the original film stops much of the fun and silly mood and makes things more tense and dark. This is carried Up to Eleven where he's concerned in the sequel.
Large Ham: King Louie, at least during "I Wan'na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)".
Line in the Sand: The elephant brigade all step back, (except for one, who immediately steps back, as well), when asked to volunteer.
Lost in Imitation: A lot of later adaptions of the original stories, while usually more faithful to the original source material, tend to borrow elements from the Disney movie. Variations of King Louie appear in the live-action movie and Shonen anime for example. Characterizations such as that of Shere Khan and Baloo are also occasionally borrowed vaguely from their Disney interpretations. And let's not get into the characters from the sequel.
Mercy Lead: Impressed by Mowgli's lack of fear of him, Shere Khan decides to give him a ten second head start. However, when he gets to four, as soon as it becomes clear that Mowgli really isn't scared of him and plans to fight back, he quickly counts down the rest and attacks Mowgli; if it wasn't for Baloo, Mowgli would most likely be tiger food at that very moment.
Mildly Military: The elephants. Their theme, "Colonel Hathi's March", is even a parody of military marches.
Mind-Control Eyes: Anyone whom Kaa hypnotizes. Also Baloo when caught up in the music of King Louie and the Monkeys.
Nerves of Steel: When Mowgli meets Shere Khan face to face, he states straight out to the tiger that he isn't scared of him, and when Shere Khan decides to give him a Mercy Lead, Mowgli instead grabs a stick and tries to fight him directly.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: A subversion, as they didn't know he was listening in, but it's because of Bagheera telling Colonel Hathi about Mowgli running away that Shere Khan found out about the man cub's presence in the jungle in the first place.
Nobody Here but Us Statues: Bagheera does this, as there are a bunch of statues of panthers in the ruined human city, with one conveniently empty spot for him to sit in and assume the same pose as the statues. Even though he's solid black and they are light gray, he goes unnoticed by the monkeys who pass right by him. But then Baloo opens a door onto him.
To be fair, they weren't really paying attention as they walked by. They all had their eyes closed as they were grooving to the music.
Nothing Is Scarier: Shere Khan doesn't even show up until the beginning of the third act, and even when he does, he's Affably Evil except for his fight with Baloo. His reputation is what sets the plot into motion.
No Pronunciation Guide: Mowgli's name is actually pronounced MAO-gli, not MOH-gli. Mow rhymes with cow. Rudyard Kipling's daughter allegedly never forgave Disney for this mistake, though it's hardly their fault—the mispronunciation of Mowgli's name could be heard as far back as Zoltan Korda's 1942 live action adaptation.
Not So Different: Baloo and Louie, which explains why they're such good friends in the spin-offs.
Parental Substitute: Baloo acts as this to Mowgli for the brief time they are together. Prior to him, he was Raised by Wolves, his adoptive father Rama even referring to him as being "like a real son".
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Colonel Hathi's "military band" does little else than march around obnoxiously while singing their Ear Worm. How did Colonel Hathi get his Victoria Cross? In the movie, Hathi reminisces about being part of a British elephant troop and was presumably released into the wild when he got older; he just kept up his military habits with the herd he became part of (never mind that bull elephants are almost always loners in the wild).
Retcon: An obscure foreign-language novelization rendered the village girl's name as Jasmine. Obviously this wouldn't fly after 1992, so the DTV sequel and subsequent merchandise and press material for the first film gave her a different name.
Role Reprisal: Tony Jay, who provided the voice of Shere Khan in The Jungle Book 2, previously voiced a different variation of this character on The Jungle Book spin-off TaleSpin.
The Runt at the End: Colonel Hathi's son, who brings up the end of the column of marching elephants.
Scatting: "I Wanna be Like You" devolves into a scat duel between Louis Prima and Phil Harris.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Bagheera loses his temper with Mowgli and leaves him to fend for himself twice over. He quickly darts back at the thought of leaving him with Baloo however.
Shout-Out: Near the end of the film, Bagheera delivers a eulogy to the apparently dead Baloo as the background music plays. Surprisingly, this background music is a Grief Song called "Chorale for Snow White", a shout-out to the 1937 film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Show Some Leg: Shanti blatantly does this to Mowgli at the end of the first movie (which she attempts to deny in the second). Lampshaded by Baloo and Bagheera.
Baloo: (furious) She did that on purpose! Bagheera: (smiling) Obviously.
Sidekick Song: "The Bare Necessities"! Also, "I Wan'na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)" and "That's What Friends Are For (The Vulture Song)".
Sissy Villain: Kaa and to a lesser extent, Shere Khan. Both are genuinely feared predators of the jungle (Shere Khan mentioned as being stronger than the entire wolf pack combined) however in both cases, their wrath is hidden in an amusingly flamboyant, playful and soft spoken demeanor. In the sequel, Shere Khan is a more bitter villain, though still plays around with this at times.
The scene where Mowgli is licked by the two wolves uses the same animation sequence from The Sword in the Stone where Wart gets licked by Tiger and Talbot, the castle dogs. (doubles as an Actor Allusion, as both were voiced by the same boy). Shere Khan also spends some time sneakily stalking a deer whose death had already traumatized a generation of Disney Kids. (Thanks again, Bambi). Various shots were also recycled within the movie, chiefly those involving the elephants and Kaa.
Watch closely at the animation of almost all the scenes involving the wolf pups. Seem familiar?
Super-Persistent Predator: Shere Khan tracks Mowgli all throughout the jungle in both movies, but both times he is out to kill him for being human rather than hunting him for food. Meanwhile, Kaa (who is hunting for food) only chances upon the main characters and quits pursuing them once they prove to be more trouble than they're worth.
Kaa: If I never seen that skinny little shrimp, it'll be too soon.
Tempting Fate: Mowgli does this a lot. The most obvious example: Kaa first appears immediately after Mowgli tells Bagheera "I can take care of myself", and he nearly gets himself (and Bagheera) killed.
Baloo: Yessir, nothin' or nobody's gonna come between us again! (cue Shanti)
Lucky in the sequel is a brainless Screwy Squirrel who spends the majority of his role taunting Shere Khan over his defeat at the hands of Mowgli as up close as possible inadvertently giving him directions to the mancub's location in the process (before falling victim to a rather nasty beating).
Tranquil Fury: Disney picked George Sanders specifically for his ability to give Shere Khan a sinister yet simultaneously suave and gentlemanly demeanor. He finally loses his cool during the climax, if still more in the form of a haughty snit fit than an outright Villainous Breakdown.
Tummy Cushion: Mowgli lies on Baloo the bear's stomach as they're floating in the river, as seen here◊.
Walk Into Camera Obstruction: Twice. Once with Baloo as he is walking inside the temple. "Step aside and I'll show you what a real rug cutter can do". Again with Baloo during the song WILD. Does it after he knocks off Timon & Pumbaa look-alikes.
Weak-Willed: Mowgli and Shanti are both easy victims for Kaa (this is ironically in contrast to the original stories where Mowgli was the only one resistant to Kaa's hypnotic dance).
What Song Was This Again?: "Bear Necessities", having a pun-based title, really doesn't translate well. In the Swedish version, the gist of the song is the same, but the pun is replaced by a different bear-related pun. The French version is entirely punless, as is the German version, whose title translates as something like "Let's try it the cozy way".
Bagheera: And just how do you think he (Mowgli) will survive? Baloo: How do you think he will... What do you mean how do you think he... He's with me, ain't he? And I'll learn him all I know. Bagheera: Oh? That shouldn't take long.