Disney’s latest live-action remake, The Jungle Book, is being praised by critics and audiences for not only its lovely retelling of the classic animated feature, but also its amazing visuals. The entire film was shot on a soundstage in Los Angeles and besides Neel Sethi, who plays Mowgli, everything was later added in with visual effects. The Art of The Jungle Book is the newest art book that goes into the creative process of the film.
The Art of The Jungle Book takes the reader through the making of the 2016 adaption of The Jungle Book. The book is divided into a few chapters that each focus on a particular part of the making of the movie. The book is not so much an art book like we traditionally know them. A big part of the book is also about the making of the film and the technology behind it. After a foreword by the film’s director, Jon Favreau, and an introduction to the book, the first chapter talks about assembling the team behind the film. It was a fine, but unnecessary, addition to the book. I enjoyed reading what the actors had to say about their roles and why Favreau wanted them in the cast, but it was something that I could have missed in this book and could have been kept on a DVD bonus feature.
The third chapter, “Characters and Locations,” is where the book really starts to take off. This part of the book features all the characters and locations from the movie with a section of concept art that was made to create them. The art is astounding and varies from rendered concept drawings to rough sketches. The book shows a great variation of art and you really start to get a little understanding of the designing process. A big bummer, however, is that there is very little art. Each of the main characters only get three to four pieces of concept art, which is simply not enough in my opinion.
There’s also pretty much no text in this part of the book besides some quotes and small explanations. I usually don’t mind this, but I would at least have liked a little information at each new location or character section. This was not always the case, unfortunately. Another letdown is that there are no artists mentioned whatsoever. This is, in my opinion, very disrespectful to the artists who worked very hard on these pieces as well as really annoying for people, like myself, who would be interested to look them up online to see more of their work. It’s not that hard to add their names and it probably annoys me more than any of the other things I didn’t like about this book.
The chapter after that, “Exploring the Technology,” dives into the groundbreaking technology of the film. There’s a ton of text that explains the process of filming the movie, but also some of the technical challenges enhanced by beautiful behind-the-scenes images that showcase the process. It’s a small yet very interesting part of the book. The fifth chapter talks about the realism of the visual effects in the film. This part also has some text that talks about the subject, but the biggest part of the chapter consists of creature concept work and behind-the-scenes photos. It’s a small but great and informative chapter.
The sixth and final chapter talks about the process of putting everything talked about in the last few chapters together. This chapter features some spreads that dive into how particular sets and characters are built. They show reference, CG models, tests, and concept art. There’s some keywords that explain what you see. I personally really liked these pages. They reminded me of a simpler version of the “Building a Sequence” chapters we have come to know from DreamWorks art books and it definitely added to this otherwise disappointing book.
The art in this book is breathtaking and, if you were to be interested in purchasing this book, this should be the main reason to do so because everything else is kind of a letdown. If you liked The Jungle Book and you would like to have a book with a selection of concept art and some info on the making-of process, this book is great. Besides that, it doesn’t do much. I feel like they left out a ton of art and there could have been more information. This book has some nice art and information, but I wouldn’t say it’s an essential in your art book collection.
A special thanks to Titan Books, who provided review copies of ‘The Art of the The Jungle Book.’
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes