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Embracing the Emotional Connection with the Story in The Jungle Book

We attended as a guest of Disney

The World Premiere of Disney's "THE JUNGLE BOOK" Press Conference

The highly anticipated time has come for “The Jungle Book” to come back to life for children of our generation in theaters on April 15th. Earlier this month, I traveled to Los Angeles where I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of speaking with the cast and director of the film.

THE JUNGLE BOOK

I had just seen the movie a couple of night before with my children at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles, and I was still emotionally moved by the cinematic masterpiece. After watching the film, so many of my favorite childhood memories that I thought I had forgotten came back. The film evoked such a strong emotion inside myself, and when I walked into the room where we were going to talk with the cast, again, I was overwhelmed with emotion.

The World Premiere of Disney's "THE JUNGLE BOOK" Press Conference

We began by talking with Jon Favreau, the director, about why they decided to recreate this story, and why now at this time? He said, “The enthusiasm of Disney. I connected with Alan Horn, who was really connected to the Kipling stories when he was growing up, and for me, I was connected with the animated film growing up. We both had such great affection for the story, and the question became, ‘if we love it so much in those forms, why do it now?’ The technology has come to a point where we could tell the story in a different way.”

“100 years was the book

50 years was the film

50 years later we are updating the film for our generation.”

Jon Favreau

The World Premiere of Disney's "THE JUNGLE BOOK" Press Conference

It felt surreal to me that the actor who’s work I respect the most in Hollywood was sitting in front of me, Sir Ben Kingsley. He shared with us what drew him towards wanting to play the role of Bagheera, and he said, “I knew John well enough to know that his taste, humanity, and storytelling completely concurred with mine, so it was a joy to join his beautiful project.”

The World Premiere of Disney's "THE JUNGLE BOOK" Press Conference

The talented Lupita Nyong’o who plays the voice of Raksha shared with us that it was Favreau’s compassion that he had for the characters that struck her the most about the film. “The love of the story and vision for each character that he had was going to bring the film to life,” said Nyong’o.

The World Premiere of Disney's "THE JUNGLE BOOK" Press Conference

As for Giancarlo Esposito, who plays the voice of Akela, it was a much more emotional connection to the story that made him interested in doing the film. He shared with us, “For me this story came from my mother. I come from a family with divorced parents, and I have a brother. My mother would read the law of the jungle to us, and it was us three, we had to survive. So the story means something deep to me inside. Now, I tell my girls “you can never leave a man behind.” Then Favreau added, “That became the theme for our script. It became something that evoked over and over in the film.”

THE JUNGLE BOOK

Sir Ben Kingsley shared information about the story of The Jungle Book that I had never known before. While making the movie, there was an intuitive feeling that he couldn’t grasp at first. “It was that I was playing Kipling. Kipling had lost his only son in World War I in 1915, and after working with John, I had the opportunity of reading letters Kipling exchanged with his son while he was on the front lines. I read the letters with my son in front of an audience, and I realized ‘my goodness’ Bagheera is Kipling,” said Sir Ben Kingsley.

“I am privileged to be the voice of Kipling. A man I greatly admire, and love.” Sir Ben Kingsley

THE JUNGLE BOOK

While watching the movie over and over again, you’ll begin to notice a lot of Disney references to other films in this movie. “There were visual cues in the film. You’ll notice there are bits of Dumbo in there, and Pinocchio inspired the King Louie scene,” said Favreau.

Don’t miss falling in love with the story of The Jungle Book all over again in theaters, Friday, April 15th. Learn more about “The Jungle Book” online, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Photos courtesy of Disney

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