Monday, 18 March 2019

Bare necessities are still firmly in place

HOW do you improve on an all-time classic? That was the daunting task confronting the makers

HOW do you improve on an all-time classic? That was the daunting task confronting the makers of the Jungle Book “reimagining” that has just hit cinema screens.

The film is actually the Walt Disney Company’s second live-action adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli stories — following on from the 1967 animated musical classic we all know and love.

A first live-action adventure was released in 1994, to both popular and critical acclaim. The major difference from the original being that this time around the animals did not speak.

Fast forward 20 years, and with visual effects technology having leapt ahead, Disney decided it was worth having another crack at one of their landmark tales.

The film was entrusted to Jon Favreau, whose previous directing credits included the first two Iron Man films.

He had grown up with the 1967 version and felt a need to strike a balance between the two films by retaining the original’s buoyant spirit — including some of its memorable songs — while crafting a movie with more realism and peril.

He also noted a cultural shift that has occurred since Kipling’s day — and arguably since the Sixties — saying: “In Kipling’s time, nature was something to be overcome. Now nature is something to be protected.”

As for the approach to making the film, he was encouraged by Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn to embrace the latest technological advances that had helped make James Cameron’s Avatar such a hit.

Favreau said: “The idea of going out to the jungle and shooting this, it just felt like it wouldn’t have the magic that the 1967 film had had.

“There was a dreamlike quality to it. There was a surreal quality to it. It was a high-water mark for character animation, and to me that’s what I remember about it. And so I wanted to make sure we preserved that.

“But what Alan Horn said was ‘Look at the technology. Look at Life of Pi, Avatar. Why not use the technology to create a whole world that transports you? Let’s really embrace this technology and see what we can do if we push its limit.’ ”

The Jungle Book is now showing at the Henley Regal Picturehouse.

Review: Matthew Wilson

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