'The Jungle Book': Disney's latest remake of animation into live-action film

Starring Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, and Lupita Nyong'o, it is the latest remake of a Disney classic with live-action technology. 'The Jungle Book' opens April 15. 

Mario Anzuoni/Reuters
Ben Kingsley voices Bagheera the panther in Disney's live-action version of 'The Jungle Book,' opening April 15.

The Disney animated movie "The Jungle Book" gets the live-action treatment with the new movie of the same name, which stars Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, and Lupita Nyong’o and is now in theaters.

"Jungle," based on Rudyard Kipling's work, stars Neel Sethi as Mowgli, a young boy who grows up in the jungle and meets various animals both friendly and dangerous including Baloo the bear (Mr. Murray), Bagheera the panther (Ben Kingsley), Kaa the snake (Ms. Johansson), and Shere Khan the tiger (Idris Elba). 

The animated version of the story was released in 1967 and this new film is Disney’s latest effort at adapting their animated stories in a live-action format. Past successes include "Cinderella" (2015) and "Alice in Wonderland" (2010). 

Director Jon Favreau spoke recently about his cast, which includes more actresses than the original movie. (Verna Felton was one of the few actresses to have participated in the 1967 animation giving voice to the elephant. Her role was significantly smaller than those of lead actors like Phil Harris, who voiced Baloo, and Sebastian Cabot, who voiced Bagheera.)

"Times are different now," Mr. Favreau said in an interview with the Telegraph. "It seems odd to have all-male characters. In the '67 film, it was an all-male cast. In Kipling's [book], there was a prominent character we really played up called Raksha [portrayed by Ms. Nyong’o]. She really is the heart and soul of the central relationship with Mowgli. And then we changed Kaa the snake to be Scarlett Johansson who has an incredibly warm, wonderful, compelling, dramatic voice, and I think it helped balance it out and feel more of our time."

Nyong’o said in an interview with Parade that the film has universal themes. 

" 'The Jungle Book' is a lot about family and longing and I think it's such an homage to nature," she said. "The story of Mowgli and how he finds his place in the world is really moving."

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