A Jungle Journey

Eventually every story comes to a close. The journey comes to an end. This was our journey’s end back in late summer 1966 and believe it or not, we had finally gotten the Mancub to his final destination. This is the man village. It’s the home of the Mancub and our final goal in Walt Disney’s final animated motion picture, The Jungle Book.

Yesterday, I sat and spoke with composer, Richard Sherman about this journey we took together back in 1966. It’s only one of the many adventures we shared with the Old Maestro himself. I was lucky enough to work with Robert and Richard Sherman on three projects that were very important to Walt Disney. Can you guess what they were? Winnie the Pooh, Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book. And, here we are working together again nearly sixty years later. Time flies when you’re having fun.

Our journey began after the meltdown of the Kipling inspired motion picture. Bill Peet had departed the movie along with songwriter, Terry Gilkyson. Now, the Sherman Brothers would join the filmmakers as we took on the daunting task of retooling the film. Robert and Richard Sherman using the tools of their trade, continued to inspire us. Of course, as Disney storytellers we were actively creating a visual narrative. Yet, music can drive the story as much as impressive artwork. Our trip through the jungles of India took most of the year, but by late summer we finally had Mowgli the Mancub right where we wanted him. Like the Mancub himself, we peered across the shallow river toward the Man Village wondering how we were going to get the kid back where he belonged. The beautiful color comp by background veteran, Al Dempster provided some incentive. The village looked pleasant and inviting, yet not enough to motivate the reluctant Mancub. Something else was needed…but what? Well, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that it was Walt Disney himself who gave us the answer to our dilemma. “Have a little Indian girl come to the river to fetch water,” said the Old Maestro. “Once he sees the little girl he’s gonna follow her back to the village. Mowgli won’t be able to resist.” We had our doubts. Why would a kid Mowgli’s age have an interest in girls? Well, it turns out Walt Disney was right. I’d venture to guess you agree as well.

Today, my favorite actor - director, Jon Favreau has brought a new version of Kipling’s The Jungle Book to the screen and I can assure you it is every bit as magical as the movie we made way back in 1966. I confess I loved taking the incredible journey all over again and it’s a journey you might want to take as well.

A very cool color sketch of the Man Village by Disney background artist, Al Dempster. We had finally gotten the Mancub home.

A very cool color sketch of the Man Village by Disney background artist, Al Dempster. We had finally gotten the Mancub home.