Like every other deluxe edition Disney has released on Blu-ray they carry over most of the special features from the original DVD release (which are usually pretty good) and add on some new material (which is usually pretty awful and/or pointless.) We get more of the same here.
The new material starts off with a 10-minute video called Music, Memories, and Mowgli, a conversation between Richard M. Sherman, Diane Disney Miller, and Floyd Norman. Itís basically a quick reflection on the production, explaining how wonderful it was to work for Disney himself, and then talking about his death shortly before the film was finished and released. The only real benefit to the segment is a quick visit to the Disney vault to see some recently discovered artwork made for the film, and itís possibly one of the last things Miller would have filmed (she passed away this past November) but itís otherwise simply a summarization of the making-of documentary included elsewhere.
A 9-minute storyboard reconstruction of an alternate ending found in an early story treatment is the next feature. It ends in a similar manner to the film except Mowgli comes across a guard at a gate to a village. The ending that Disney ultimately felt was best (spoiler: being drawn to the village by the young girl he sees) was more appropriate for the ďcoming-of-ageĒ story that the film essentially was.
And it wouldnít be a Disney Blu-ray without the shameless advertisement. I Wanína Be Like You is basically a (fairly obnoxious) 18-minute ad showcasing the latest attraction at Disney World, the ďAnimal Kingdom.Ē As far as I can tell it basically looks like a souped-up zoo. Yep, 18-minutes.
Disney yet again includes another karaoke feature, common for their Blu-rays now, this one called Bear-e-Oke (natch!) and it delivers an animated karaoke presentation for a number of songs in the film for about 13-minutes. This is also what plays when you pause the film (I, like my daughter, canít understand why Disney just canít ďpauseĒ the film.)
@DisneyAnimation: Sparking Creativity is actually the only decent new supplement in the bunch. This 9-minute feature gives us another look at the animation department of the studio, focusing on their Spark program. The Spark program is where animators come up with new, innovative ideas and then share them with other animators and executives, and I assume being awarded or compensated if the idea is valid enough. We get a sampling of two of the submissions: a new motion capture technique that was used for the effects in Frozen, and then a new look for computer animated films, which was used for the award winning short Paperman (anybody else find it odd that in the last few years Disney themselves has been far more innovative and interesting than Pixar in computer animation?) Thereís a couple of other things brought up, like a flash mob moment I didnít quite understand, but itís easily the best feature of all of the new material.
Disney then includes most of the content from the original DVD in the section aptly labeled ďClassic DVD Bonus Features.Ē A sub section called ďBackstage DisneyĒ first presents The Bare Necessities: The Making of The Jungle Book, a 46-minute documentary covering the development of the film. These are usually pretty good and informative, and this is no different, but you can basically follow these with a check list now: get rights to classic story. Check. Go through months, maybe years of story development. Check. Get voices. Check. Animate. Check. Write music. Check. Release film to public. Check. Sometimes serious issues arise (like with The Little Mermaid) but the development of this film was fairly straightforward, except Disney was more involved with this one after the failure of The Sword in the Stone. He really didnít want the writers to know much of anything about the Rudyard Kipling story other than the basics, wanting them to concentrate on just making some interesting characters for Mowgli to interact with (though Disney himself apparently turned to the story many times for influences.) Of course the one sad fact about the film is that Disney passed away before the film was anywhere near finished, never seeing a finished print. Ultimately itís good making-of, but really follows the motions of these types of featurettes.
Disneyís Kipling: Waltís Magic Touch on a Literary Classic is a 15-minute featurette on how Disney altered the original source heavily to fit his vision. Interestingly the segment covers some material that was in original treatments, a lot of which was closer to the source. Thereís also more insight on trying to give the story a more central focus so that they could rely less on plot. Disney seemed determined to make the film simply a collection of kooky characters for Mowgli to interact with, and thankfully they did cut out one called Rocky the Rhino. Itís interesting in looking at Disneyís vision, but somewhat frustrating when you realize he didnít actually have much interest in actually adapting the story.
The Lure of The Jungle Book is a 9-minute collection of interviews with Disney animators (current at the time this was filmed) talking about how the film and its animation influenced them. Itís pointed out how Sheer Khanís mannerisms made their way into Scar in The Lion King (with Jeremy Irons doing George Sanders I guess) and how the free flowing movement of Mowgli has made its way into other animated films. The segment turns into one of the strong features as it ends up offering a great examination of the filmís animation and techniques.
Mowgliís Return to the Wild is a 5-minute segment featuring Bruce Reitherman, son of animator/director Wolfgang Reitherman, and the voice of Mowgli. Reitherman talks about the film and his father, while also talking about his current profession, that of a wildlife filmmaker.
We then get an interesting archival feature, that of Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston talking about animating the characters and giving them personalities. They also talk about studying live action and poses, and the importance of the characterís eyes. Itís short but fairly illuminating.
That closes off the ďBackstage DisneyĒ section but there are still a few other features. There is 6-minutesí worth of deleted scenes, presented with storyboards and newly recorded voice acting. We get to see Rocky the Rhinoís rightfully deleted scene and then a deleted musical number involving the vultures, making their Beatles influence more obvious.
Disney offers a 14-minute feature on the animals and settings that appear in the film, called Disneypedia: Junglemania!. Itís aimed more for kids, providing easy to digest information on India, bears, panthers, tigers, pythons, and so on. Itís a decent educational feature.
ĒMusic & MoreĒ presents a couple of more musically themed features. Common on Disneyís releases is the Disney Song Selection, which allows you to jump to any of the filmís musical numbers, complete with subtitles for the lyrics. There is then the I Wanína Be Like You music video performed by the Jonas Brothers. I only got through 30-seconds of the 3-minute video.
Thereís a decent audio commentary closing off the supplements, which presents Sherman, Bruce Reitherman, and artist Andreas Deja talking about the development of the film and Disneyís involvement. Thereís also some archival audio interviews edited in, backing up some comments or possibly filling in some dead space. I think everything covered in here is covered elsewhere so itís not a necessary feature, but itís a decent track that flows nicely and has quite a bit of content.
And that closes off the discís supplements. Not entirely surprising, but the old material is the worthwhile content here. Save for the new feature on the animators the rest of the material feels like filler or shameless advertising. 7/10