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Jungle Book
The imagination of Rudyard Kipling is brought vividly to life in this classic Disney animated film. The tropical jungle is teeming with animals, not all of them friendly, which get along in their own amusing fashion. Mankind seem to play a small part in this happy world until, one day, Bagheera the Panther hears a strange sound. Investigating, he discovers a man-child in the wreck of a boat. Normally he would walk away but this time Bagheera feels some pity for the orphaned infant and takes him to the wolves, to be raised as one of their own. Ten years later the child has grown into Mowgli the Man Cub, happily adopted as a wolf. Unfortunately a shadow is cast over this picture - Shere Khan the Tiger is returning to the area and he is certain to kill Mowgli, such is his hatred of humans. Bagheera volunteers to take him to the human village where he'll be safe.

Since darkness falls before reaching the camp they decide to stop for the night, high up in a tree. Bagheera falls asleep but hasn't reckoned for the dangers of the jungle, specifically Kaa the Snake. Slithering along Kaa spies the young boy, perfect for a snack, and wriggles over to gain his confidence. Using his wildly hypnotic eyes Kaa sends Mowgli into a trance, prior to swallowing him, but is disrupted in the nick-of-time by Bagheera (who narrowly escapes being eaten himself!). The morning arrives uneventfully, except for the fact that the ground is shaking - the elephants are on patrol. Colonel Hathi marches into view at the head of his troops, all stepping in line and in perfect synchronisation. Mowgali decides to join in, leading to much hilarity and jokes at the expense of the military, as an elephant before Bagheera drags him away.

Mowgli is dead-set against joining his own kind though and runs away from the kindly, but exasperated, panther. Soon he bumps into someone who is much more fun to be with - Baloo the Bear. Prepare for a superb song, "The Bare Necessities", and some memorable insults between Bagheera and Baloo. More trouble lies ahead for the independent and adventurous Mowgli - tangles with the apes (especially King Louie of the Apes), barber-shop singing with a quartet of vultures and finally Shere Khan himself. Baloo and Bagheera repeatedly show their devotion to Mowgli by rescuing him from all sorts of situations, although the result of all of this action is a somewhat bitter-sweet ending.

There are several memorable aspects to this thoroughly enjoyable story - the songs, the voices and characters of the animals, the excellent animation (including some beautiful colours) and the strength of the underlying tale. Together these unify to give a very funny, heart-warming and very fast paced movie. On the minus side there are a few not quite so brilliant songs and some of the attitudes, particularly towards women, are a little old-fashioned. Despite this, The Jungle Book ranks as one of the finest Disney animations, with absolutely no excess sentimentalism. There are few better ways to spend a spare 75 minutes.







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