If you want to remember the original Disney animated feature before checking out the incredible new adaptation in theatres, Disney’s recent Blu-Ray HD release is a beautiful transfer with some great extras.
If you want to see how much Walt saved the film before his death shortly before its release, watch the fully storyboarded “Alternate Ending.”
There’s so much story and exposition here, it would have added an additional 40 minutes to the movie, given Mowgli a new enemy in a human hunter, changed his name after his parents show up (and force him to sleep in a bed), and given the kid huge angst due to nobody believing his jungle stories.
He eventually tells the hunter all about Shere Khan and the Monkey City filled with gold, but the entire village thinks he’s crazy. Of course, Mowgli’s natural response is to grab a torch, run into the jungle and threaten every animal who once befriended him.
Eventually Mowgli challenges Akela the wolf to a duel and tells everyone they should be very afraid of him and his fire stick. By this point, even Bagheera and Baloo are done and reject the kid, leaving him alone with his red flower. Long story short, the hunter shows up, forces the kid to take him to the treasure, and then decides to shoot the boy. Before he can, Shere Khan kills the hunter–and Mowgli ends up shooting the tiger.
The next day, he’s telling the tale to Bagheera and Baloo, who have inexplicably decided to be friends with him again. Mowgli’s convinced they don’t believe his story about shooting the tiger after Shere Khan killed the hunter.
But Bagheera smilingly reassures Mowgli that they do believe him. And then casually glances at the two dead bodies on the ground behind him.
What the heck? In this ending, Mowgli tries to burn down the jungle, threatens his adopted father, acts so awful that his two best friends reject him, casually lures an old man to his death, and then leaves two dead bodies out as a warning to his enemies.
Good thing Walt went with the whole “cute girl singing and beguiling Mowgli” ending instead. Because that original idea would have out-Revenanted anything in Leo’s revenge tale.