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Wolfgang Reitherman
Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, Louis Prima, George Sanders, Sterling Holloway
Writing Credits:
Larry Clemmons, Ralph Wright, Ken Anderson, Vance Gerry Synopsis:
Bagheera the Panther and Baloo the Bear have a difficult time trying to convince a boy to leave the jungle for human civilization.

Rated G

Aspect Ratio: 1.75:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Monaural
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 78 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 2/11/2014

• Audio Commentary with Actor/Director’s Son Bruce Reitherman, Animators Andreas Deja, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, Composer Richard Sherman, Director Wolfgang Reitherman and Writer Larry Clemmons
• One Deleted Scene
• Disney Song Selection
• Music Video
• “The Bare Necessities: The Making of The Jungle Book” Documentary
• “Disney’s Kipling: Walt’s Magic Touch on a Literary Classic” Featurette
• “The Lure of The Jungle Book” Featurette
• “Mowgli’s Return to the Wild” Featurette
• “Frank and Ollie” Featurette
• “DisneyPedia: Junglemania!” Featurette
• “Music, Memories and Mowgli” Featurette
• Optional Introductions
• Alternate Ending
• “Hangin’ Out at Disney’s Animal Kingdom” Featurette
• “Bear-E-Oke” Singalong/Disney Intermission
• “@DisneyAnimation: Sparking Creativity” Featurette
• Sneak Peeks


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Jungle Book: Diamond Edition [Blu-Ray] (1967)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 23, 2017)

Disney’s The Jungle Book was the very last film over which Walt had any direct input. Actually, at that point in his life, he'd largely left the workings of the animation studio to its own devices.

The "Nine Old Men" – a group of animators who'd been with the studio for many years - knew what Walt'd like or dislike pretty well by that point. Disney himself had been much more preoccupied with other ventures like Disneyland and then was concerned with the enterprise that would become Disney World.

Disney died before Jungle itself hit movie screens in 1967, though the film was essentially completed by the time of his demise. Its enormous commercial success seemed to augur well for the studio's fortunes. In reality, however, the film signaled the start of a nearly 20-year malaise for the studio, though no one would really notice this until later.

Actually, I suppose it could be argued that the "Dark Period" had already begun at Disney with 1963's The Sword in the Stone. That film was both a critical and commercial disappointment after the huge success of 1961's 101 Dalmatians, and it remains one of the least-liked of all Disney’s animated features. In that regard, Book appears to have offered a respite from the coming storm.

I guess I regard the problems that come from Book as more indicative of the studio's decline because Disney always produced the occasional clunker, so Stone should not be regarded as such an unusual effort. What was surprising was that they followed it up with another fairly weak film in the form of Book.

Two disappointments in a row seems pretty hard to fathom. Unfortunately, that string would go well beyond two movies, as Disney animation wouldn't produce another thoroughly satisfying film until 1989's The Little Mermaid, which means they went a period of 28 years between consistently good pictures.

Please don't interpret my negative comments about this long era to construe that I find the films in question to be bad or unwatchable. Actually, I think all of them - even the most disliked efforts such as 1973's Robin Hood - have some merits and they generally make for enjoyable viewing.

The problem is that from Disney, a solid and pleasant movie isn't enough. The studio's rich history practically demands that every film be a gem.

After all, this is the company that has the audacity to proclaim most of its animated films as "classics". You can't sustain chutzpah like that on a consistent run of subpar films.

Whether last hurrah of Walt's world or harbinger of future failure, I just don't find The Jungle Book to be a very entertaining film. I can't really nail down what's wrong with it, though, other than a vague absence of creative spark.

One major problem stems from the picture's general lack of plot. A vague storyline exists: get Mowgli out of the jungle and into the "man village”. In a Peter Pan-esque refusal to enter the adult world, Mowgli doesn't want to go, and only does so eventually when his hormones kick in after he sees a sexy - to him, at least - local babe.

That's a pretty loose basis for a film, but it could have worked. Although I'm in the minority, I really like the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland, and it offered a similarly vague plot.

However, I found the episodes included in that film entertaining and clever, whereas everything that happens in Book just seems to be an excuse to get to another musical number. In Alice, the lack of cohesive narrative functioned as a strength because it offered a fairly chaotic view of the environment, something that the film needed. In Book, however, it usually seems more like we're watching a variety show than a movie, and the emphasis on song and dance serves no similar story purpose.

Ultimately I find Book to offer a mildly entertaining diversion, but it's one that seems to always remain disappointing. The characters are fairly interesting, the songs are good, and the animation is fine. However, the whole is less than the sum of its parts, and I just can't get myself involved enough in the story to enjoy the film.

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus B+

The Jungle Book appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.75:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though much of the film looked positive, some issues came along for the ride.

Like many Disney animated offerings, Jungle Book scrubbed away grain. Usually these transfers do so fairly well, but in this instance, the noise reduction went a bit too far, and detail could suffer.

That said, sharpness was usually good. Some softness occasionally interfered with wide shots, but the majority of the movie came across as accurate and well-defined, even if some fine detail got lost along the way. I noticed no shimmering, jaggies or edge enhancement, and the film came free from source defects.

Colors pleased. The jungle setting offered a good selection of natural tones that the disc reproduced in a satisfying and vivid manner. Blacks were dark and dense, and shadow detail was reasonable. This was a more than watchable presentation, but the “scrubbed” nature of the image left it as a “B-“.

The Jungle Book offered reasonably nice DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio. What was originally a monaural soundtrack has been remixed into a passable surround piece, with unspectacular but decent results.

In truth, the audio remained largely monaural. Some stereo effects appeared from time to time, as I heard an occasional voice emit from a side speaker, and thunder rumbled in a nice manner.

The surround channels occasionally kicked to life as well, but they didn’t get a lot of room to shine. Moments like thunder and the elephants’ footsteps did the most to boost the rear channels.

The music offered the best quality in this mix. The score itself seemed surprisingly bright and clear, with some nice depth as well - note the bass guitar that accompanied the vultures.

Strangely, the music sounded slightly thinner and less vivid when it appeared in the form of actual songs. These still seemed good but not as rich as the score itself.

Dialogue appeared clear and relatively natural, though lines could be a bit flat, and effects also were fairly realistic. The audio won't dazzle you, but it's good for a film from this period.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the 2007 “40th Anniversary” DVD? Audio was a little warmer, but not a lot, as the source material held back the soundtrack’s potential.

Visuals demonstrated some added pep. The Blu-ray was tighter and more dynamic than the DVD. Though it came with its own issues, the Blu-ray did improve on the DVD.

The Blu-ray mixes old and new extras, and we begin with an audio commentary from actor/director’s son Bruce Reitherman, composer Richard M. Sherman, animator Andreas Deja, director Wolfgang “Woolie” Reitherman, animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, and writer Larry Clemmons. Note that Bruce Reitherman, Sherman and Deja were recorded together for this commentary, while the others come from archival sources. The disc’s producers edit all this together, so the parts with Sherman et al. are screen-specific but the others aren’t.

The track looks at story and character issues, cast and performances, music and songs, animation techniques and styles, the (non)adaptation of the novel, working with Walt Disney, and a few other production issues. At its start, the commentary proves unimpressive. We get lots of praise and not a lot of insights.

Happily, matters improve before too long – around the time we hear about the initial “dark” take on the story and Walt’s directives to make it lighter. From there we get better information about the different aspects of the production.

Bruce gives us interesting comments about his performance, while Deja manages to provide some historical and technical perspective for the animation; he didn’t work on the movie, but he knows his Disney history. We still find more happy talk than I’d like, but the commentary improves and becomes quite stimulating. Overall, the track provides a nice examination of the flick.

One Deleted Scene appears. It looks at a “lost character” called “Rocky the Rhino” and runs six minutes, 36 seconds. It uses narration, storyboards and archival audio to show where Rocky would have appeared in the film and what he would’ve done.

We also hear a “British Invasion” version of the vultures’ song. I like this portion of the disc, as it gives us a cool look at an alternate possibility for the flick.

Next comes a music video for “I Wan’na Be Like You”. This accompanies a modern rock version of the tune played by Jonas Brothers. The video mixes some movie clips with a lip-synch performance by the band. It’s a pretty lousy affair in all ways.

After this we find a documentary called The Bare Necessities: The Making of The Jungle Book. This 46-minute, 27-second show mixes movie clips, archival elements, and interviews.

We hear from Sherman, Woolie Reitherman, Deja, Clemmons, Bruce Reitherman, Johnston, Thomas, animators Glen Keane, Will Finn, Milt Kahl (from 1984), Eric Goldberg, Marc Davis (from 1985) and James Baxter, author/film historian Brian Sibley, writers Ken Anderson (from 1983) and Vance Gerry (from 1985), story artist Floyd Norman, animation historians John Canemaker and John Culhane, filmmaker Ted Thomas, author Neal Gabler, director Brad Bird, composer Robert Sherman, story artist Burny Mattinson, and actors Phil Harris (from 1983), Chad Stuart, and Clint Howard.

“Bare” examines Walt’s impact on the production and the work of story man Bill Peet. We learn of the film’s story development, its characters and their design, notes about some of the filmmakers and their special talents, the voice cast, score and songs, Disney’s death and what it did to the studio, and the film’s reception.

Like many programs of this sort, we get more praise than I’d like; that side of things gives the show a less objective tone. It also repeats some info from the commentary, though not as much as I’d fear.

Instead, “Bare” provides a pretty strong examination of the film’s creation. We get useful details about the various aspects of the flick in this enjoyable piece.

For a look at the source material, we head to the 15-minute, one-second Disney’s Kipling: Walt’s Magic Touch on a Literary Classic. It depicts the differences among three versions of Jungle Book: Kipling’s original book, Bill Peet’s initial adaptation, and the final version. This doesn’t offer a complete compare/contrast examination of the different renditions, but it highlights the biggest variations and provides a satisfying look at the subject.

Next comes The Lure of The Jungle Book, a nine-minute, 28-second featurette with notes from Deja, Finn, Bird, Canemaker, Ted Thomas, Keane, Goldberg, Baxter, and animator Sergio Pablos. An appreciation for Jungle Book, the animators discuss what the film meant to them as kids and how it impacted on their choice of career. They also offer a general appraisal for its charms.

Obviously this means a lot of the praise I usually disdain, but in this context, I don’t mind the happy talk. The personal nature of the program makes those aspects acceptable. It’s nice to find out how the flick affected modern animators and to hear their thoughts about the work found in the picture.

Mowgli’s Return to the Wild goes for five minutes, nine seconds and presents remarks from Bruce Reitherman as he talks about his work as a nature filmmaker. This relates tangentially to Book since we learn a little about his relationship with his dad. Those are the best parts, as the bits about Bruce’s work are less involving.

Called Frank & Ollie, the last featurette runs three minutes, 46 seconds. Here animators Thomas and Johnston as they discuss how to do character animation of anthropomorphic animals. Despite the clip’s brevity, it’s quite informative. The two animators pack a lot of valuable insights into their brief chat.

Another feature with siblings on other movies, we get an entry in the DisneyPedia line. Oriented toward little ones, this 14-minute, 21-second program teaches about various animals featured in Book. It’s a light but reasonably informative view that should be fun for kids.

The remaining extras are new to the Blu-ray. Music, Memories and Mowgli runs nine minutes, 49 seconds as it presents a chat among composer Richard Sherman, Walt’s daughter Diane Disney Miller, and story artist Floyd Norman. They reminisce about Walt as well as aspects of Jungle Book. Nothing exciting appears here, but the short seems warm and enjoyable.

Entitled “Mowgli the Hunter”, an Alternate Ending goes for eight minutes, 46 seconds. Taken from a story treatment, we find newly-created storyboards and narration from storyboard artist Raymond Persi.

These let us view how this different conclusion would’ve worked. The existing ending isn’t great, but I prefer it to this laborious, drawn-out finale.

Two different optional introductions appear. We get one from Diane Disney Miller (1:04) and another from Richard Sherman (0:30). Neither adds much, but they’re painless openings.

With Hangin’ Out at Animal Kingdom, we get an 18-minute, 25-second piece that features Disney Channel actors Blake Michael and G. Hannelius as they get a behind the scenes tour of the theme park. This clearly exists as an advertisement, but it offers a few decent glimpses of the Kingdom’s operations.

By the way, does it mark me as old that I’ve never heard of Blake and G – and I also never heard of their series, Dog With a Blog?

Another featurette, @DisneyAnimation Sparking Creativity takes up nine minutes, 14 seconds with info from talent development coordinator Stephanie Morse, effects supervisors Marlon West and Michael Kaschalk, animator Darrin Butters, Talent Development and Recruitment director Dawn Rivera-Ernster, shorts director Patrick Osborne, and visual development artist Jeff Turley.

“Creativity” looks at ways Disney tries to foster new ideas. This offers a few glimpses of the subject matter, but like many Disney reels, this one feels more self-serving than informative.

For something unusual, we go to Disney Intermission. If you activate this feature, every time you pause the movie, you’ll see “Bear-E-Oke”. It’s not a great bonus, but at least it spices up breaks. Oh, and Bear-E-Oke appears as a separate feature, so you can access it without having to use the “Intermission” method.

The disc opens with ads for Sleeping Beauty, Muppets Most Wanted and Frozen. Sneak Peeks adds a promo for The Pirate Fairy.

A second disc offers a DVD copy of Jungle Book. It includes the deleted scene and the “DisneyPedia” but lacks all the other extras.

What does the Blu-ray lose from the 40th Anniversary DVD? It drops deleted songs, galleries, and games. I don’t mind the absence of the games, but it’s too bad the Blu-ray doesn’t port over the songs and the artwork,

Though The Jungle Book maintains a great fan base, I must admit it disappoints me. The movie boasts some charm and fun but it never coalesces into anything particularly memorable or creative. The Blu-ray provides erratic but mostly good picture and audio along with a satisfying selection of supplements. I’d like a stronger transfer, but this was still a pretty good version of a mediocre animated film.

To rate this film visit the 40th Anniversary Edition review of THE JUNGLE BOOK

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main