From the Page to the Screen – The Jungle Book

The Jungle by Book Rudyard Kipling - Book Review

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From the Page to the Screen – The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book is an 1894 family novel written by Rudyard Kipling. It is one of the treasured children’s classics of literature but even though it is endearing and with a great attention to detail, it was too episodic in nature and two disconnected to me personally. I liked the book, but I did not love it. It was influential and was adapted into three major films, all done by Disney, so let’s see how they stack up together.

 

 

THE 1967 VERSION

The 1967 original animated film is the last film that Walt Disney personally worked on until his unfortunate death. It represents a true end of an era, an era of classic Disney films as afterwards the studio went into their first Dark Age. It is an underrated film today as it is in my opinion one of the ten best Disney films of all time.

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The Jungle Book (1967)

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PLOT

The film is very episodic in nature just like the novel, but it thankfully adapted just one major story from the book and is thus much more engaging and well put together. When everybody thinks of The Jungle Book, they immediately think of this movie which is a testament to how amazing it still is and it easily trumps the source material.

WINNER – FILM

 

CHARACTERIZATION

I liked the characters in the novel, but in the film we get much better and more meaningful interactions between each and every one of them plus Baloo and Bagheera are so much better as these unforgettable, wonderful Disney sidekicks. Shere Khan is also one of the better Disney villains out there.

WINNER – FILM

 

EMOTION

The original novel is quite cold actually if you do not count that final chapter which is so moving and beautiful. But the rest is lacking. The animated film, on the other hand, is very emotionally rewarding in large part thanks to superb characterization. The entire third act is wonderful and that ending where Mowgli leaves the two and goes to the man village is so touching.

WINNER – FILM

 

THEMES

This is the only category where the novel is clearly better than the film. I love the film but it is too straightforward and not too sophisticated thematically speaking whereas the book explores animal order, foreignness, courage and principles among others.

WINNER – BOOK

 

TECHNICAL ASPECTS

This also has to go to the film. Certainly the book features some wonderful descriptive passages from Kipling, but the film takes that to the next level with pleasing, underrated animation style, simply superb character design and one of Disney’s better soundtracks.

WINNER – FILM

 

BOOK 1: FILM 4

This is one of the rare clear victories in favor of the cinematic adaptation instead of the novel and that is what Disney does best – they took a somewhat boring, very episodic and scattered novel and made a much more straightforward, much more emotional and much better developed in plot and characters film that remains one of their biggest classics to this day.

 

 

THE 1994 VERSION

This adaptation is live-action and again it came from Disney and was released in 1994. It was fairly well received, but is in my opinion the weakest of the three by far as it doesn’t hold up particularly well and for the movie called The Jungle Book, there isn’t a whole lot of jungle to be found in it.

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The Jungle Book Movie Review

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PLOT

As a period, historical piece, the film works. But as a jungle adventure, it fails miserably as it only has a couple of such scenes and they were all some of the worst scenes in the film. I get what they were going for, but the film just wasn’t sophisticated enough to pull that different, more sophisticated approach off. The novel does that much better.

WINNER – BOOK

 

CHARACTERIZATION

Some characters here are fine, but most are lacking and their book counterparts are so much better developed. It also hurts that the acting is not the greatest, especially from the main actor who is also quite miscast.

WINNER – BOOK

 

EMOTION

The novel has that heartfelt final chapter, but the film is lacking in this particular aspect. It isn’t too cold, but because the characterization is weak, there was just not a single truly moving scene to be had here.

WINNER – BOOK

 

THEMES

This is another clear victory for the book as the film tries to be a serious historical drama but fails in that department as the dialogue and the script are not all that great. The novel is much more sophisticated.

WINNER – BOOK

 

TECHNICAL ASPECTS

The original features excellent writing from the author – mostly the descriptions which are so detailed and they bring the image of India in your head remarkably well. This movie, on the other hand, features solid costumes, but it doesn’t hold up in terms of the effects as it uses real trained animals and thus removes the magic and charm from the story in favor of realism.

WINNER – BOOK

 

BOOK 5: FILM 0

Now this is another clear slate, but this time around in favor of the book. The movie isn’t bad and is perfectly solid, but mostly just a noble effort at making a very serious, realistic animal film. They failed at that for the most part and what we got was a very forgettable adaptation that is not fun or exciting at all.

 

 

THE 2016 VERSION

The newest 2016 live-action Disney film is really an animated film because it relies heavily on special effects with only Mowgli being played by a real human being. But the effects are excellent and the film is mostly stupendously crafted that it received excellent reviews and reactions across the board. It is a very good film, but somewhat overrated as the original film is much better.

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The Jungle Book Movie Review

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PLOT

I liked the plot of the film quite a bit. It follows the first film somewhat closely, yet it also stays pretty true to the source material. Only the ending was too happy, but otherwise this was such a stupendous adaptation that doesn’t just copy the original film (looking at you ‘Beauty and the Beast’).

WINNER – FILM

 

CHARACTERIZATION

Everything I said above for the original film also applies here but to a somewhat lesser extent. Baloo is great and so well played by Bill Murray, Bagheera is good, Mowgli is endearing and Shere Khan is quite menacing. The characters are faithful to the original film and very good overall.

WINNER – FILM

 

EMOTION

The entire third act is quite moving and although the ending is too happy, it was still quite glorious to witness and heartwarming. It isn’t as endearing as the first film, but it is more emotional than the novel.

WINNER – FILM

 

THEMES

This adaptation actually includes some of the themes from the book and the most fascinating was the role of the elephants in the ecosystem. But still the themes here are rare when compared to the book’s richness of themes.

WINNER – BOOK

 

TECHNICAL ASPECTS

The special effects are gorgeous here and although the animals are too big, they look great and pretty realistic. The scenery is also frequently gorgeous and the score pays homage to the original film really well in spite of the weak renditions of songs. This Oscar-winning film is a technical marvel that is best to be seen on the big screen.

WINNER – FILM

 

BOOK 1: FILM 4

Now even though the score is pretty much the same as it was with the original film, this remake is still inferior to the original and never as terrific or as wonderful. But still it is one of the best live-action remakes from Disney in this new string of remakes and mostly an unexpectedly strong, competent film on all fronts.

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