Way back in December of 2014 I visited the set of Disney’s upcoming new adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic, The Jungle Book. While I can’t say much about the movie at this time (expect more details on exactly how this film came to life closer to release), I can say that it most certainly was not your average set visit. We saw way more than you usually see of a movie on this thing. But that’s literally all I can really describe in terms of technical detail at this point.
What I can say is that the movie looks gorgeous, and that every effort has been made to immerse the audience into a world that honors Kipling’s book. The film may play to a wide swath of audiences, and of course the appeal is certainly wide, but the filmmakers also seem to be including a sense of danger, stakes and adventure that honors the wildness of the film’s titular environment.
With the advent of the release of last of the Triptych posters for the film (be sure to check out Tuesday’s poster and Wednesday’s poster) below, I can share with you a few thoughts from director Jon Favreau from our visit (where we also first met Neel Sethi, who plays Mowgli).
Even though what you’ve seen from the trailers of course features a large amount of computer animation that seems to be aiming for photorealism, Favreau isn’t afraid to nudge things in a more fantastical direction:
“What creating the world allows us to do is exaggerate proportions and scale. So the jungle is slightly heightened. The animals are slightly heightened. And we have we’re not forced into tying into a real tiger as they would be like Life of Pi where half the shots are real and half are fake.”
Similarly, if the glimpse of King Louie you saw in the trailers feels “big”, well… you wouldn’t be wrong. Favreau explains:
“the thing with King Louie is there’s no orangutans in India. So but we liked that it was a character invented by Walt [Disney]. But we had an interesting take on him. There’s a creature called the Gigantopitchecus, which is kind of a Missing Link slash Yeti type creature that’s of legend in the jungles of India. And so we used that as inspiration because that had somewhat orangutan like features. And we exaggerated the size even more, so he’s really big and allows for again, just playing with scale. Because you have tiny creatures down to insect size, all the way up to King Louie and the elephants that are enormous.”
If all this seems technical (and there’s a lot more technical stuff to report later on), don’t worry there’s a huge human element to The Jungle Book. For instance, when you hire Bill Murray you want Bill Murray. You don’t want the technology to override his presence:
“When you have Bill Murray, you want him to do his thing. You don’t want him to move his mouth like a bear, you know. So I think that that’s gonna be, that’s always been the most challenging aspect of this, ’cause you don’t wanna break the anatomy of it. We find subtlety is probably better than overly enunciating things. “
That’s literally all I can say at this point without treading into waters that may spoil some of the film’s technical marvels (not to mention Sethi’s performance), so I’ll leave you at that for now. And be sure to check out that third triptych poster below!
The Jungle Book includes the voice talent of Scarlett Johansson (Kaa), Idris Elba (Shere Khan), Bill Murray (Baloo), Christopher Walken (King Louie), Ben Kingsley (Bagheera) , Lupita Nyong’o (Raksha), and Giancarlo Eposito (Akela). You can see it in theaters April 15th.