Jungle Book, The
The Jungle Book, probably the biggest animal picture made in recent history, is based on the classic story by Rudyard Kipling about the Indian boy, Mowgli, who is raised in the jungle and bonds with the animals. At the opening of the film, a caravan of British officers, soldiers, servants and Indian guides slowly winds through the lush jungles of India while monkeys watch them from the trees. The caravan is comprised of many animals such as elephants, camels, oxen and horses. Little Mowgli, whose father is one of the guides, is riding on horseback and carrying what looks to be a little puppy in his arms. The Commanding Officer of the British contingent is Major Brydon who rides atop an elephant. Accompanying him is his little daughter, Kitty, asleep in her nanny's arms in an ornate rickshaw cart. From out of the jungle we hear the terrifying roar of the great tiger, known to the natives as Shere Khan, King of All Tigers. Brydon's elephant squirms wildly then rears up and Mowgli jumps down off his horse to calm the animal. We immediately know that this small boy has a gift with animals as he takes the elephant's trunk in his small hand and the animal responds. Above the landscape, we see the magnificent Khan standing on a precipice overlooking his domain. Later, Mowgli wanders in the camp and sees Kitty in her tent dancing to music and is infatuated by her. Earlier he had watched his handsome father receive a kiss for presenting a woman with a flower and gets the idea to give beautiful Kitty a flower. He attempts to kiss her, but to no avail. However, she runs after him and gives him her bracelet as an expression of her affection. Just as Mowgli is returning to his own tent, Shere Khan invades the camp and attacks the guards. We see the great tiger running through the camp and making a leap at one of the guards, killing him. In the confusion that ensues, the elephants are spooked and Mowgli runs to hide in a wagon. Unfortunately, the horses hitched to the wagon take off running in fear and Mowgli is trapped in the runaway cart. The cart is loaded with kegs of kerosene which catch on fire and explode just as Mowgli, carrying his pet puppy tucked inside his shirt, jumps free of the cart and rolls down an embankment into the river. The horses drag the burning remains of the cart through the jungle.Back at the camp, Mowgli's father, in an act of bravery, is killed by Shere Khan. Major Brydon sadly believes that Mowgli is now lost to the jungle. Mowgli and his puppy float down the river safely on a log and they begin to explore the jungle. A beautiful black leopard walks right up to him and Mowgli stares the cat directly in the face. We then see Mowgli, with the puppy in tow, walking through the jungle holding the tail of the leopard whom he names Bagheera. At a lovely waterfall deep in the jungle, Mowgli and his two friends encounter a pack of wolves. Mowgli watches the grown wolves and the pups at the grotto and realizes that his puppy is really a baby wolf. The wolves come up to him as he holds the puppy in his arms, but merely stare at him and mean him no harm. Continuing his adventure, Mowgli comes upon a baby bear who has gotten his head stuck in a tree trunk. The bear is afraid and crying, so Mowgli grabs the bear from behind and pulls him out of the trunk. With a"pop" the cub's head is released and another friendship is born. When we next see Mowgli, he is all grown up and a true child of the jungle. His companions are the full grown wolf named Grey Brother, the bear named Balloo and the black leopard named Bagheera. In one scene Mowgli and Bagheera are taking a nap in a tree when an orangutan cleverly steals the bracelet off of Mowgli's wrist. It is the bracelet that was given to him by Kitty and the only remains of his life in civilization. As Mowgli and the wolves chase the orangutan deeper into the jungle, Mowgli is led to the ruins of a strange temple hidden by the jungle growth. This is the Monkey Temple of myth and legend. The orangutan, who is King Louie the monkey king, teases Mowgli with the bracelet, leading him deeper and deeper into the temple and down a well to an underground treasure room. The temple is filled with treasure. As Mowgli is exploring, a huge python is seen making his way through the treasure and right for Mowgli. It attacks Mowgli and they begin to fight, falling into the pond at the center of the room. Mowgli grabs a jewel encrusted dagger from the treasure trove and with this he slays the serpent underwater. The monkeys applaud Mowgli while King Louie, now wearing a magnificent crown, tosses him back Kitty's bracelet. For Mowgli, this is the true treasure. In all this time, Kitty has also grown into a beautiful and fearless young woman, living in India with her father, Major Brydon, who is commanding officer of the British contingent. On one of her walks in the jungle, Kitty encounters Mowgli who is quite taken with her beauty and she with the strange young man who is a creature of the jungle. Mowgli's bear appears and in an effort to impress Kitty, Mowgli pretends to fight Balloo, although the two friends are actually playing. When Kitty encounters Captain William Boone, a handsome soldier who tries to kiss her, Mowgli appears out of the jungle to defend Kitty, but William calls to other soldiers who hold Mowgli at gun point. However, Mowgli is quicker than they are. Out of the jungle come Mowgli's friends, Balloo and Bagheera, who distract the soldiers by growling at them enabling Mowgli to escape. Mowgli decides to sneak into the settlement to see Kitty and gets underneath an elephant, well hidden by the large animal who takes him right through the gates. Once inside the courtyard, he climbs up to Kitty's quarters to give her another flower and attempt another kiss, as he did as a child. She of course refuses him, but since he has forgotten how to speak, he is unable to explain himself. In exploring the room, Mowgli burns himself on a lamp. Kitty begins to apply salve to the burn, sees the bracelet on Mowgli's wrist and realizes who he really is. William barges in and begins to chase Mowgli. He sets the other soldiers in motion and they chase Mowgli through the settlement. Other Indians see the boy being chased by guardsmen and place camels in the path of the soldiers to help Mowgli escape. Finally they do capture him, confiscate the jeweled dagger that he took from the Monkey Temple and throw him in the dungeon. Kitty intervenes to save Mowgli from the brutality of William and his guards. She and her friend, Dr. Plumford, believe that they can teach Mowgli to speak and reintroduce him to civilization. Major Brydon plans for Kitty to marry Captain William Boone and threatens to send her back to England unless she agrees. William believes that once Mowgli is educated he will be able to lead him to the treasure of the Monkey Temple, so he tries to befriend Mowgli by giving him a tour of the palace. However, when Mowgli sees the game room, decorated with the trophy heads of the animals he loves, he refuses to lead William to the treasure, knowing that the soldier does not respect the law of the jungle. Kitty cannot bring herself to marry William and plans her return to England, while Mowgli returns to the jungle. William and his troops set off to kidnap Kitty, knowing that Mowgli will find her and, to save her, will then lead them to the Monkey Temple. As they try to capture Mowgli, Balloo steps into the line of fire and is shot by one of the soldiers. In an attempt to help Balloo, Mowgli goes off to find Dr. Plumford who is accompanying Kitty. On route, Kitty's caravan is attacked by William's bandits who kidnap Kitty, Mowgli and Major Brydon. Mowgli, in desperation, decides to lead the bandits to the treasure while Dr. Plumford is freed to go back and try to save the life of the bear. As the bandit caravan with their prisoners moves through the jungle, the leopard and wolves follow keeping watch. Although the bandits tie Mowgli to a tree at night, the leopard is able to sneak into camp and chew the ropes from Mowgli's wrists, helping him to escape. Believing that Mowgli had been killed, the bandits proceed to the lost city. They hear the fierce growl of Shere Khan. They try to run, but Khan chases down one of the soldiers, leaping at him and killing him. Mowgli finds William and Kitty inside the treasure chamber and fights with William. King Louie and all his monkey followers cheer Mowgli. Another huge python appears and William, loaded down with a backpack filled with treasure, tries to fight the serpent, but becomes trapped under the water, and is killed. After William's death, Mowgli and Kitty head for home, but encounter Shere Khan. Mowgli fearlessly stares the tiger down. Khan roars, but Mowgli roars back which calms the animal.
- Starring: Jason Scott Lee, Same Neill and John Cleese
- Director(s): Stephen Sommers
- Producer(s): Baloo Productions
- Screenwriter(s): Stephen Sommers, Ronald Yanover, Mark Geldman
- Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
- Release Date: Monday, October 10, 1994
Featured Animal Action
This film employed forty trainers from seventeen animal companies and used approximately one hundred fifty animals. For this caravan scene, many trainers were present controlling the animals. The supplies and costumes worn by the animals were lightweight, simulating heavy loads, while the face paint on the elephants was a non-toxic make-up applied by the make-up personnel. When the elephant is spooked by Khan and later gives his trunk to Mowgli to hold, a trainer was in front of the elephant giving it verbal commands. The monkeys seen in the background shots were tethered and held by trainers who gave hand and voice commands to make the animals move and react. A trainer worked with the actor playing Mowgli to prepare him to hold the puppy, which was a baby wolf. This scene of the attack at the encampment was very complex. Many trainers and wranglers were present to handle the animals. To create a sense of fear and chaos this scene was carefully choreographed so that special attention could be given to the space and timing between each animal group. The trained elephants were lead in a spinning motion by the trainers, an experienced wrangler rode the horse also in a spinning motion, two oxen were led by a wrangler from A to B with two other oxen trained to follow, camel handlers quickly led the animals from A to B in front of the camera, and a trainer released a horse to run from A to B in front of the camera to a second waiting trainer. Other horses and oxen in the scene were ridden by trained wranglers. The guard attacked by Khan, was an experienced trainer. The tiger which was released by another trainer ran A to B and then made a leap on command. During all stunts involving the tiger, the set was cleared of any non-essential personnel. In the scene involving the horses, the runaway team was driven by a wrangler who was in control of the horses and for the explosion and burning of the cart, a steel box fitted with propane flames was used. The whole scene was very controlled. The fire was never so close to the horses that they were in danger of being burned. The special effects personnel simulated the fire with fire bars and flicker lights. When Mowgli is seen in the runaway cart and then jumping from the cart, an adult small person stunt double was used in place of the child actor. As Mowgli slides down the embankment, again the stunt double was used. A special pouch was constructed inside his shirt to protectively hold the pup, although the real pup was not used. For this scene, a log cart on a ten foot track was constructed in the jungle setting and made to slide slowly only the ten feet. This action was photographed at many different camera angles. In post production the series of shots was edited together to simulate a long and speedy slide down the embankment. The actor on the log was really sitting on a log that did not move holding the pup in the shirt pouch. Wind machines were used to make it appear that he was traveling forward and crew personnel standing just outside camera range shook branches to make it appear as if there was passing foliage. For all the scenes where the wolf pup is walking, two trainers were present. One trainer would release the pup and the animal would walk A to B toward the second waiting trainer. The leopard was tethered at all times and when Mowgli walks behind it holding the cat's tail, a trainer was just out of camera range leading the leopard on a chain leash. Children were not present on the set when the cats were working and an adult stunt double was used in place of the child actor for these scenes. The scene in which we see Mowgli nose to nose with Bagheera was shot using a process called blue screen. First, the boy is filmed on location while he reacts to the large cat. Later, in a studio, the black leopard was filmed in close up. Finally, in post production the two shots are superimposed and made to appear as if the boy and the cat are in the same place and in the same shot. For this scene a trainer released the wolves from point A and they moved toward trainers at point B who called them with verbal and hand commands. There was also a wire fence erected to separate the mature wolves from the pups and from the actor. A jaguar, used as a double for the black leopard in some of the scenes, was tethered. All tethered animals in the film were trained and comfortable with being tethered. For this scene, a trainer was inside the log holding the bear cub and moving it to make it appear as if the cub was struggling. The hole itself was made of soft styrofoam and the noise of the "pop" was a sound effect dubbed into the film in post production. When we next see Mowgli, he is all grown up and a true child of the jungle. His companions are the full grown wolf named Grey Brother, the bear named Balloo and the black leopard named Bagheera. There are many scenes where you see them all walking together. For these scenes, wire fences were erected to separate the animals from each other. For instances where Grey Brother walks up to Mowgli, a trainer would call the wolf toward the actor who would then reward the animal with food. For the scene where the orangutan steals Mowgli's bracelet, the black leopard was tethered to the tree where he and Mowgli appear to be sleeping. The orangutan had been trained for the tricks and merely responded to verbal commands given by his trainer. When Mowgli runs through the jungle after the orangutan, a whole pack of wolves follows him. Trainers at point A would release the wolves and they would run to handlers at point B. Each wolf had his own trainer. When the large orangutan teases Mowgli with the bracelet, leading him deeper and deeper into the jungle and through the temple, a trainer would position the animal and give him verbal and hand commands that would cue the animal's learned behavior. The Monkey Temple was lined with monkeys who move about on the columns and on ledges of the lost city. This was really several different shots superimposed. A wide variety of monkeys were actually filmed in a studio setting against a blue screen. The monkeys responded to verbal and hand commands given by their trainers. These shots were later imposed on master shots of the elaborate Monkey Temple location making it appear as if the animals were actually on the ledges and parapets. The snake used in this sequence was actually a rubber prop that was manipulated by the special effects people to appear as if it was moving through the room and in the water. When the animals are seen growling at the soldiers, trainers were off camera giving the animals verbal and hand commands. The animal heads decorating the trophy room had been supplied by the prop department. For the scene where the bear is shot, a trainer gave the animal voice and hand commands to lay down and roll around and the make up department applied a non toxic fake blood to create the wound. Sound effects were dubbed in later. During the caravan attack, guards are seen being shot off their horses. For this action stunt men were used. For this scene, the leopard had been trained in pre-production to play with the ropes and did so at the command of the trainer during filming. This scene was shot in many cuts and utilized both the blue screen technique mentioned earlier and stunt personnel who were experienced in working particularly with tigers. The stunt man and the tiger were both trained in a play behavior that gave the appearance of the tiger mauling the soldier. Again, the python in this scene was a rubber prop. This scene was shot in cuts and when it appears as if Mowgli and the tiger are in the same shot, a blue screen simulation was used. Kahn no longer sees Mowgli as a man, but as another creature of the jungle, the protector of all animals great and small and the keeper of the Jungle Law. American Humane had two representatives on the set of Jungle Book throughout the filming of animal action. American Humane Guidelines were given to all personnel on the set and the guidelines were carefully followed.