The Jungle Book (1994 film)

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This article is about the 1994 film. For Kipling's books, see The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book. For other uses, see The Jungle Book (disambiguation).
Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book
Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster by John Alvin.
Directed by Stephen Sommers
Produced by Edward S. Feldman
Raju Patel
Screenplay by Stephen Sommers
Ronald Yanover
Mark Geldman
Story by Ronald Yanover
Mark Geldman
Based on The Jungle Book 
by Rudyard Kipling
Starring Jason Scott Lee
Cary Elwes
Lena Headey
Sam Neill
John Cleese
Music by Basil Poledouris
Cinematography Juan Ruiz Anchía
Edited by Bob Ducsay
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • December 25, 1994 (1994-12-25)
Running time
111 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30 million[2]
Box office $43.2 million[3]

Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book is a 1994 American adventure film co-written and directed by Stephen Sommers, based on the Mowgli stories in The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.[4] The film stars Jason Scott Lee as Mowgli, Cary Elwes as his adversary Captain Boone, and Lena Headey as Mowgli's eventual love interest Kitty. Also appearing in the film were Sam Neill, John Cleese, Jason Flemyng and Ron Donachie.

In this version, the animals do not speak.


During the British Raj in India, Mowgli is the 5-year-old son of the widowed Nathoo, whose wife died in childbirth. Nathoo works as a tour guide. On one of his tours, he is leading Colonel Geoffrey Brydon and his men as well as Brydon's five-year-old daughter Katherine. That night, the deadly tiger Shere Khan attacks the encampment, killing some soldiers who had been hunting down several animals for fun in the jungle earlier, which had enraged him. When he tries to kill the third hunter, Buldeo, Nathoo defends Buldeo, who ungratefully leaves him to be mauled to death by Khan. In the confusion, Mowgli is lost in the jungle with his pet wolf, Grey Brother. Brydon and his men believe Mowgli has been killed too. Mowgli is taken by Bagheera, a gentle black panther, to the wolf pack. Mowgli also befriends a bear cub named Baloo.

Years later, Mowgli, now a young man, discovers Monkey City, a legendary ancient city filled with treasure belonging to King Louie, who has his treasure guarded by Kaa the python. Elsewhere, Katherine and her father are still stationed in India. She and Mowgli meet again, but neither recognize the other. Katherine is also in a relationship with one of Brydon's soldiers, William Boone. Mowgli enters the village in search of Katherine. Boone and his men manage to capture him and see that he is in possession of a valuable dagger that he took from Monkey City. Katherine discovers an old bracelet of her mother's: one she gave to Mowgli when they were children, and instantly realizes who Mowgli is. She and Dr. Julius Plumford (a good friend of Brydon's) decide that they must re-introduce Mowgli to civilization. In doing so, Mowgli and Katherine fall in love, much to Boone's displeasure. Boone later proposes to Katherine and she accepts. Around this time, Mowgli returns to the jungle as he does not feel at home in the village. After Boone's cruel treatment of Mowgli, Katherine realizes she cannot marry Boone, so her father decides to send her back to England.

Meanwhile, Boone and his friends (Lieutenant Wilkins and Sergeant Harley) team up with Buldeo and his confederate Tabaqui. The men gather some bandits to capture Mowgli in order to find out where the treasure is. They shoot Baloo when he comes to Mowgli's defense, much to Mowgli's distress. Boone and his men then kidnap Katherine and her father (who is shot and wounded in the process) and use them as blackmail: if Mowgli leads them to the treasure, Katherine and her father shall live. That night, the group learns that Shere Khan has returned to the area and is following them.

The next morning, Harley catches Mowgli escaping (with the aid of Bagheera) and gives chase, only to fall in quicksand and drown, despite Wilkins' attempt to save him. Mowgli then has an elephant to take the injured Brydon back to the village, promising to rescue Katherine. As the day progresses, Tabaqui attacks Mowgli on top of a cliff, but falls to his death when Mowgli causes him to lose his precarious balance. Wilkins panics and tries to run off, but is mauled to death by Shere Khan. Eventually, the remaining group enter Monkey City, where Buldeo inadvertently entombs himself in a trap. Only Mowgli, Katherine, and Boone reach the treasure room, where Mowgli and Boone engage in a fierce fight until Mowgli injures the soldier with another dagger. Mowgli then escapes with Katherine, while Boone begins greedily pocketing treasure, only for Kaa to attack and kill him.

As they escape from Monkey City, Mowgli and Katherine are ambushed by Shere Khan. However, Mowgli shows no fear and stands up by roaring back at the tiger, who then sees him as a creature of the jungle and accepts him. As a result, Khan allows Mowgli and Katherine to leave peacefully. Mowgli and Katherine meet both the Colonel and Baloo, both of whom have recovered from their injuries under Plumford's care. Mowgli becomes the new lord of the jungle and begins a relationship with Katherine.


Trained animals

Kaa is portrayed by both a computer-generated and a real anaconda. Other trained animals were monkeys, elephants, camel, horses, zebu, and wolves. The sounds used for the monkeys were actually those of chimps.[6]


Principal photography took place in Canada (Abbotsford), India (Jodhpur) and parts of the Southern United States (South Carolina and Tennessee).[7]



The film was well received, with praise towards its performances, action and visuals, but chided for not staying true to Kipling's work, although his name remains in the title.

Noted critic Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times shared this sentiment. He said the film "has so little connection to Rudyard Kipling or his classic book that the title is beyond explanation."[8]

He goes on to say that it is a good film, awarding it three stars out of four, but it does not fit its target audience; some "scenes are unsuitable for small children, and the 'PG' rating is laughable."[8]

Brian Lowry of Variety said that, "Technically, “Jungle Book” is an encyclopedia of wonders, from the dazzling scenery (shot largely in Jodhpur, India), cinematography, costumes and sets, to the animals, who frequently out-emote their two-legged counterparts. Even so, “Book” may have been more effective had its story stayed on one page."[9] Rita Kempley from The Washington Post was more favorable, stating that "the narrative shifts from romance to adventure the way Cheetah used to hop from foot to foot, but Sommers nevertheless delivers a bully family picture."[10]

The film currently holds a 92% 'fresh' rating at review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes, based on 26 reviews.[11]


The film was nominated for Excellence in Media's 1994 Golden Angel Award for best motion picture.[7]

Video game[edit]

The film was adapted into a 1996 game, which includes clips from the film, while providing an original story and new characters.

The game follows the player in his/her quest to save the jungle. Soldiers have stolen King Louie's crown and the player must recover it to prevent the jungle from losing its magic. The player is aided by a Scotsman named ilgwom ("Mowgli" spelled backwards) and his chimpanzee, Lahtee, while also guided by a spirit made from Mowgli's memories.


As of 2014, Disney is working on another live action Jungle Book film with Justin Marks writing the script and Jon Favreau attached to direct, though Peter Pan director P.J. Hogan had previously been involved.[12][13] In addition, Idris Elba has been cast as the voice of Shere Khan, with Bill Murray as Baloo, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, Christopher Walken as King Louie, Lupita Nyong'o as Raksha, Giancarlo Esposito as Akela and Neel Sethi playing Mowgli. As Mowgli, Sethi will be the only actor on film, with CGI being used to depict the animals. The film is a combination of live-action and animation and is scheduled to be released on April 15, 2016.[14][15][16]


  1. ^ "RUDYARD KIPLING'S THE JUNGLE BOOK (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. 1995-01-18. Retrieved 2013-06-25. 
  2. ^ New York Times
  3. ^ Box Office Mojo
  4. ^ Nibley, Alexander (1997-05-26). "Are Films Using Names in Vain?". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-22. 
  5. ^ Bates, James (1994-12-23). "Company Town : The Civilizing Force Behind Disney's New 'Jungle' Movie". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-22. 
  6. ^ Fleishman, Rick (1994-12-22). "Jungle Goes Back to Drawing Board : Movies: Disney's live-action version of the Kipling tale has the same basic story as the animated hit. But unlike that one, this film has real animals and a balance-of-nature message which means they do speak.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-22. 
  7. ^ a b "Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book". Variety. [dead link]
  8. ^ a b c "The Jungle Book Review". Chicago Sun Times. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book review". The Washington Post. December 25, 1994. Retrieved May 23, 2010. 
  11. ^ Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book at Rotten Tomatoes Retrieved June 25, 2013
  12. ^ "'Jungle Book' Live-Action Reboot in the Works at Disney (Exclusive)". Retrieved 2013-12-02. 
  13. ^ Fleming, Mike. "Jon Favreau In Talks To Helm New Disney Adaptation Of Kipling's 'The Jungle Book'". Retrieved 2013-12-02. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ Meet Mowgli: Newcomer Neel Sethi Joins the Cast of The Jungle Book
  16. ^ Ben Kingsley to Become Bagheera

External links[edit]