FILM 1655: THE JUNGLE BOOK
TRIVIA: Amid the treasures in King Louie's temple, one of them happens to be Genie's lamp from Aladdin (1992).
In The Jungle Book (1967), King Louie was an orangutan. In this film, he's a gigantopithecus, an ancestor of the orangutan whose range is believed to have included parts of India. This change in species was made to make the film more fantastic, seeing as it would be a good way to represent him as King of the Monkeys, and since orangutans are not native to India. Despite this, the film does still feature some animals not native to India, like Peccaries and Red-Eyed Tree Frogs.
Actor Neel Sethi said that since he never actually worked with real animals onset during filming, director Jon Favreau would on occasion stand in for where the animals would be present, one most notably as Shere Khan lunging out from the tall grass.
All the locations in the film are computer-generated VFX. The story may have been set primarily in India, but the film was completely shot at the LA Center Studio in Los Angeles, California.
The CG character Baloo is so large and furry, he took almost five hours of rendering time per frame.
This is the first time that Kaa the snake is portrayed as a female, rather than a male. Jon Favreau said the change was a deliberate one, as he felt there were too many male characters in The Jungle Book (1967).
Lyricist Richard M. Sherman, who wrote songs for The Jungle Book (1967), composed a new verse for "Wanna Be Like You" for Christopher Walken.
Ben Kingsley described Bagheera as a military character: "He's probably a colonel, he is instantly recognizable by the way he talks, how he acts and what his ethical code is."
The animal characters were both motion-captured and performed live on set by puppeteers from the Jim Henson Company. For the on-set performances, Jim Henson's Creature Shop built elaborate life-sized puppets to act alongside Mowgli and serve as eye-lines.
The 3D of the film and the original 1990s Walt Disney Pictures opening logo were a tribute to the multi-plane camera system. Director Jon Favreau said that one his is "rules" for making The Jungle Book (2016) was "let's treat the 3D like multi-plane. Let's be as gimmicky as Walt Disney would have been-but not more." The multi-plane camera is a special camera used to create a sense of dimensional space-of a camera moving through a set, instead of one just taking photos of a series of still images. Disney had a special version of the system developed, which was used first in the Silly Symphony animated short film The Old Mill (1937) and later in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Favreau went on: "There are tremendous shots in Pinocchio (1940) and Bambi (1942) where the multi-plane was a new technology and they were using it to show off, and that was the 3D of its day. And so we were studying that very closely and became very fascinated with the multi-plane and what went into it and the artistry and ingenuity." This aesthetic philosophy extended to the movie's treatment of the main castle logo. "I got the idea, 'Let's do the opening logo, and instead of doing a super high-tech one, let's have a hand-painted, cel-animated multi-plane logo,'" Favreau said. "And not only that but 'Let's make the kingdom behind the castle have elements from what the live action version would have been,' so it was almost like a little taste of what's back there."
Right before he meets King Louie, Mowgli finds a cowbell in the monkey palace and proceeds to pick it up and shake it, causing Louie to appear. King Louie is played by Christopher Walken, who once famously stated on a sketch on Saturday Night Live in 2000, "I have a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell!"
The animal characters were created entirely in key frame computer animation, with the assistance of footage of real animal movement, the actors recording their lines, and performance capture for reference. The production team underwent a thorough process to realistically convey the animals' speaking, while still making them perceptually believable to the audience. Favreau researched earlier films featuring anthropomorphic animals - including Walt Disney's animated features, such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Bambi (1942), as well as modern films such as Babe (1995) - and adopted certain techniques from those films into The Jungle Book (2016). Nearly 70 separate species of native animals are featured in the film, with several species being portrayed as "150% larger" than their actual counterparts. Jim Henson's Creature Shop was brought in to provide animal puppet figures for Sethi to act against, although none appear in the finished film. Director Jon Favreau expressed a desire to avoid overusing motion capture in order to prevent an uncanny valley effect. Moving Picture Company (MPC) and Weta Digital created the film's visual effects. MPC developed a new software for animating muscular structure in the animals. Around 1,000 remote jungle locations in India were photographed and used as reference in post-production.
This is Idris Elba's second of three starring roles in Disney films of 2016, following Zootopia (2016) and Finding Dory (2016). All of the three films feature Elba in prominent animated voice-over performances.
Over 2,000 children auditioned for the part of Mowgli, in his first audition, acting newcomer Neel Sethi won the part.
The first time King Louie appears on the screen, he is sitting in a chair, his face obscured by shadows and talking in a sinister, slightly muffled voice about offering Mowgli protection before finally revealing his face. This is an obvious homage to the classic film Apocalypse Now (1979) in which Marlon Brando's character, Colonel Walter E. Kurtz, first appears on screen similarly composed.
The end credits feature "The Jungle Book" in book form that has the same cover design as the book seen in the opening credits of The Jungle Book (1967). It is in fact the original book prop, taken from Disney's archives, as mentioned in the making of featurette.