I bet there are very few people who have not seen Walt Disney’s Jungle Book! Fans of this epic cartoon are in for a treat in the form of a live-action adaption of the movie. This live-action film will be directed by Jon Favreau and will star Neel Sethi as little Mowgli, along with voice actors Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson and Idris Elba. The film is poised to be released in April 2016. Here is a trailer that has been released…
The trailer that was released for Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book, is an unbelievable mix of live action and photorealistic CGI that makes us impatient to view Mowgli’s journey through the forest much more enthralling than before.
The Jungle Book was written by English author Rudyard Kipling for his daughter Josephine, who died at the young age of six. The original Jungle Book was based on Rudyard Kipling’s story, set in the wilds of the Indian subcontinent, about a young boy raised by a pack of wolves with the help of Baloo the bear and Bagheera the black panther.
The Original Jungle Book of 1967
The movie was a cute adaptation of the story and even the characters like Kaa and Sher Khan were more sweet than terrifying. Memories of Jungle Book are always so vivid in my mind. Its a film that stays with you long after you’ve seen it – Bagheera the black panther who finds the orphaned baby; Mowgli and Baloo sauntering hand in hand through the green forest; Sher Khan the terrible tiger who returns to the jungle and is determined to hunt down the little boy everyone is shielding; the elephant army and their trumpet march; the monkey minions of King Louie, Shere Khan and Bagheera locked together in a fierce fight and of course Mowgli perched on Baloo’s tummy singing along while floating down the river…
This almost 2 minute trailer of the new movie opens with the soft and mesmerising voice of a female Kaa, (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) a very scary looking real python, very different from the original big eyed goofy Kaa of 1967, trying to lure little Mowgli (played by Neel Sethi) to her : “Are you lonely here? What are you doing so deep in the jungle?” The clip finishes off with this deliberate recall to the original animated film. Kaa’s crooning, “Trussst in me,” and Bill Murray’s Baloo whistling “Bear Necessities” while floating down the river with Mowgli on top of him.
The Actors who bring the Characters to Life
The director, Jon Favreau, in a talk with Yahoo Movies, who he invited for an exclusive viewing of the 3D trailer said that they changed the character of Kaa because he thought the original film was too male oriented. “We thought that Scarlett, who I’ve worked with a few times, would be perfect. Her voice is so emotive” he said. Aside from newcomer Neel, Johansson, and Murray, the compelling voices include Ben Kingsley (Bagheera), Idris Elba (Shere Khan), Christopher Walken (King Louie), Lupita Nyong’o (the she-wolf Raksha), and Giancarlo Esposito (Akela, leader of the wolves) — all actors that Jon Favreau says “bring humanity and emotion to the project to transcend the artificial nature of digital filmmaking.”
Ultimately, though, Favreau was a stickler about just how much of the actors personally would be embedded into the animals. “For a character like King Louie all of Walken’s facial expressions are worked in,” said Favreau, “For Baloo, you can’t put too much of Bill Murray’s performance completely on the bear. Even so, when you watch Baloo on screen, you can clearly see Bill Murray coming through. “But when it comes to a snake, there’s no reason to motion-capture Scarlett Johansson’s performance. If you use her performance to drive a digitally puppeted rig, the human expressions on a reptile start to look weird. It’s not the right effect. We really tried keep the performances within the believability of the animal species.” Says Jon.
Of course this adaptation will be a different movie as it is not a cartoon film. Neel Sethi, who is of Indian-origin and plays the the title character of Mowgli is the only “real” character in the movie. The rest are all digital creations. The animals are carefully and painstakingly crafted to look like native Indian creatures. Baloo now looks much like the sloth bear from Rudyard Kipling’s original story, not the cartoon character from the 1967 movie. Kaa looks like the deadly python she is and King Louie is not the silly singing orangutan any more.
It is that attention to detail that drives Favreau, who is quite happy to be involved over the technicals involved in The Jungle Book. He is excited that “we have used techniques that haven’t been used since Avatar, and we built upon those… If you get the lighting and physics correct, your subconscious brain gets snapped into the belief mode. You feel like you’re watching something real.”
The entire film will be shot in native 3D. The 3D version of the trailer features slightly different cuts from the above clip and involves a greater and more gripping Avatar-like experience. The Jungle Book opens on April 15, 2016.
Watch the original Jungle Book once more before the new action version hits the theaters next year! Are you going to watch the new Jungle Book when it is released? I, for one, just can’t wait to see it!