Book - The Art of The Jungle Book


With Jon Favreau’s take on The Jungle Book hitting the heights at the box office, Susan Omand discovers much more than the bare necessities with Titan Books’ beautiful companion book The Art of The Jungle Book by Ellen Wolff...

Like most people, I came to The Jungle book through the original Disney animation and it will always be the benchmark for any remake/reboot of that story even though it wasn’t the first and will not be the last. So I was really interested to see how Disney would approach this “live action” version with the new technology now available. That is where this book from Titan Books comes into its own.

As I’ve come to expect from Titan Books' “Art of” companion books, as well as containing beautiful and fascinating concept art, photos and storyboards, The Art of The Jungle Book also gives the reader a unique “behind the scenes” insight into the making of the film in a way that feels neither jargon filled nor dumbed down. It starts with a foreword from the film’s director Jon Favreau about why he wanted to revisit a story that was also integral to his childhood. One of the most interesting points he made, and one that really got me thinking about modern film-making in a different way, is that, with CGI, films are more handmade now than ever. You don’t just pick a location and “point a camera at it” as he put it, every last detail has to be designed and drawn, and sometimes built for the characters to interact with, whether it is an animal, a leaf or a mountainside. Computers are still just tools, however much they have developed, and it is the artistry and imagination of the animators that adds the missing realism.

The book is then split into chapters that cover the technology, the animation process, the characters and locations as well as highlighting the huge amount of teamwork involved in getting this story from inception to finished product. For me, one of the most interesting sections was the casting of the characters and finding out how the animators picked up on little traits of the actors voicing the characters to add in to how the animal looked on screen and, looking at the plentiful and sumptuous photos in the book, it’s true – you can really see that it’s Bill Murray when you look at Baloo's face for instance. The other thing that this book really brings home to the reader is how much work and skill is involved from the whole team, from the actors, especially the young boy who played Mowgli, often with just a blue screen to interact with, to the cameramen, the animators and the musicians, all of whom were a very necessary part in pulling this film together.

If you’ve seen the film already, this book will give that viewing added depth and many hours of enjoyment. However, even if the film is not currently on your “to watch” list, this is a fascinating look at the world of modern film-making and the challenges of CGI and the myriad of wonderful photos, story boards and concept art may well convince you that the film is worth a look too.

Image - Titan Books