Over the decades, it’s possible no single company has been able to build its own fan base to the degree that Disney has. They’ve been running for so many generations now that the people who became fans as children have grown up and become filmmakers in their own right. Jon Favreau is one of these people. When he decided to take on the live-action version of Disney’s The Jungle Book he also decided he wanted those familiar with the 1967 animated classic to get some additional levels of entertainment. The new film is full of references to its predecessor.
The most common use of reference in the film is when Jon Favreau filmed scenes that were directly taken from the animated version. Yahoo Movies points out several of them including:
Mowgli (Neel Sethi) howling with his fellow cubs in the wolf pack
You might have to be an animated Disney expert, or have recently rewatched the animated version, to pick these moments while watching the live action film, but it’s clear that Favreau wanted those fans who would notice to be reminded of the original film.
The shots are far from the only Jungle Book references. While the most obvious callback to the last film is the inclusion of some of the songs, another reference is incredibly obscure because it never actually appeared in the original film. Rocky the Rhino was a character who was going to appear in the film’s finale, alongside some Fab 4-inspired vultures. According to Yahoo:
Ultimately the filmmakers decided that having four vultures and a rhino was just too much and poor Rocky hit the cutting-room floor. But Favreau has restored the character for the film, giving him a bit of screen time and the voice of comedian Russell Peters.
There's generally two ways that remakes get handled. One way is to try to make something completely new, only using the original film as a springboard. The other way is to make something that holds the source material in reverence. Since Disney was responsible for both films, and the company was built on the success of animated features like the original Jungle Book it’s no wonder that this is their point of view. As Jon Favreau himself says, the people making the new movie loved the old one as much as those in the theater.
These are all little director games we play to keep ourselves occupied.I wanted to make sure the core group of fans of the underlying material were respected and rewarded. You want to make it fun for someone who has never seen the original film but for someone who loves the original film, we want them to understand that we love it, too.
Did you catch all the references in the new Jungle Book? Let us know what your favorite moment was in the comments below.