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THE JUNGLE BOOK 2

About The Production
Based on Rudyard Kipling's classic tale, Disney's animated masterpiece "The Jungle Book" was initially released on October 18, 1967. Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, the 78-minute film the last animated feature Walt Disney personally supervised became one of Disney's all-time box office winners. The film featured the now-familiar voices of Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, Louis Prima, George Sanders, Sterling Holloway, J. Pat O'Malley, and Bruce Reitherman. Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman wrote the songs, which included "I Wan'na Be Like You," "Trust in Me," "My Own Home," "That's What Friends Are For," and "Colonel Hathi's March;" and Terry Gilkyson provided the Oscar-nominated "Bare Necessities." The film was re-released in theaters in 1978, 1984, and 1990, and initially on video in 1991.

In continuing the adventure, director Steve Trenbirth and producers Chris Chase and Mary Thorne knew their new story would require the rekindling of several themes from the original film. Most notably, they sought to spotlight the engaging, tactile relationship between Baloo and Mowgli; create more of the memorable jazz-based music; allow the audience to get reacquainted with these beloved characters and insidious villains; and capture the original film's inherent sense of fun.

"The original film left the door wide open to explore the future of these wonderful characters," saysThorne. "It naturally led us to a corning-of-age story for Mowgli. He faces the universal questions everyone encounters at some point in their lives that juncture between our past and our future."

The classic nature of the original film made it a "tough act to follow," Thorne admits. But, as Chase explains, it also begged the opportunity to revisit old friends particularly diving back into the buddy-buddy camaraderie between Baloo and Mowgli and inspiring the creation of engaging, new characters like Shanti and Ranj an.

"It's so irresistible to want to tell another story with these characters, especially with a relationship so delicious as the one between Baloo and Mowgli," Chase says. "You can't help but want to spend more time with these characters. The more we thought about it, the more we realized it would be quite organic for Mowgli to find comfort with his own kind, yet also miss his greatest childhood influences."

With the story in place, the filmmakers set about establishing the film's "beat" an essential pacing underscored with Dixieland jazz and big band influences. Composer Joel McNeely ("Return to Never Land") provided an involving score filled with new, exciting music with a jazzy pulse that also reflects many of the original film's classic themes.

"Joel's score allows us to stop and enjoy emotional, heartfelt moments, moments where you see the characters evolve," Chase says.

The songwriting team of Paul Grabowsky and Lorraine Feather handed the characters their next snappy step with a pair of musical numbers that bring the characters and audiences to their feet. In "Jungle Rhythm," Grabowsky and Feather give Mowgli the opportunity to introduce the village children to his fun-filled view of the jungle, essentially becoming the Pied Piper to a group of kids eager to assume the roles of wild animals. And in "W-I-L-D," the songwriting duo creates the ultimate anthem of freedom for the jungle's original party animal, Baloo.

While story and song were being established, director Steve Trenbir

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