We continue our analysis of scenes 13 to 16 in the fifth and final installment of our look at Disney’s The Jungle Book.
Scene 13, 14 & 15: A Lesson in Simplicity
At first glace these shots seem rather ordinary but I think that’s the entire point; they are meant to be easily understood. Baloo is making a rather basic request of Mowgli and is talking to him in as simple a manner as possible. There is quite a bit of twinned posing and action here but it’s beautifully disguised when possible. Notice how Baloo’s overacted “scare me” pose is almost childish, but that’s very likely the feeling Frank wanted. Often times as animators we get caught up trying to be original or even wanting to show off our creativity or skill, but at the end of the day, the performance to be delivered must be one of appropriateness — true to the moment and to the characters.
In the following scene, I like the choices Frank makes here with Mowgli. First, his eyes open and connect with Baloo, then he grinds out an intense emotional effort with weak bodily power and meek vocals:
In this next shot, simplicity is at play again. Held moments are crucial here; it lets you absorb the moment that Baloo has just experienced and relays his feelings about it. Notice how apathetic his expressions are. He barely budges upon hearing Mowgli’s modest squeek. In exact and uncomplicated order, he blinks, shakes his head, moves up, and then, in an almost frozen state of disbelief, let’s out the words that confirm everything that he feels about the display just witnessed. No overacting here.
After that held moment, which helps set up the contrast, he bolts directly into action. Notice there’s no pre-anticipation necessary since he’s already in a high position. From a straight and stable position, he bounces immediately into dynamic and emotional form as we return to asymmetry before match-cutting into the wide shot:
Scene 16: A lesson in Posing with Attitude
When it comes to posing, we often think of amazing draftsmen like Bill Tytla or Glen Keane — powerhouse animators that create domineering characters — but sometimes great attitudes can come from posing that just fits the character and isn’t overdone. Here, we see Frank Thomas display some actively interesting poses of Baloo that still match his profile. Remember he’s a chill, lovable guy, whose gonna temporarily go into “real bear” mode for the sake of “demonstration.” He sounds scary and the growl is very real, but the poses that lead up to the final expression are anything but dynamic or frightening — they simply fit.
In conclusion of this lengthy five part analysis, the big point I want to make here is this: don’t be so quick to pretend to know or judge a shot or any piece of art. Take the time to see what’s going on, both on the surface and between the frames. Only in this way, do we get the chance to get inside the mind of the creator. Masterworks such as these from Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston are gold and studying them, or the works of any master, gives us a glimmer of hope that maybe some of that shine will make its way onto our own work.