Here’s Why Baloo And Little John Were The Same, Switch

Bloody hell, not this one doing the rounds again!

here's why baloo and little john are the same

Of course they were the same – and the explanation was simple.

Back in the 1960s, Walt Disney was the first cartoon studio to experiment with a process called Xerography (sometimes incorrectly referred to as Xeroxgraphy for reasons that will become apparant). To cut a long story short, this was the early form of what we know today as photocopying.

One of their animators, Ub Iwerks – the guy you can blame for starting the process of mixing animation with real actors (Song of the South, Mary Poppins, Bedknobs And Broomsticks, etc) – experimented with using xerography to directly print artists drawings to film cells, speeding the process up enormously and also making for smoother animation by being able to make perfect copies of existing cells for altering.

As costs came down, along came the temptation to recycle existing drawings for new characters in order to get movies finished and out – this became especially imperative. Never mind Little John, Fisherman Bear from Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971) was also a Baloo clone.

As with all things pertaining to Disney, context is everything. After Walt’s death in 1966, Disney had to content with a lot of negative press – not least of all their move towards more live action movies (especially the Herbie series) being interpreted as meaning that without Walt around Disney no longer had a clue how to make animated movies. Xerography allowed them to continue to churn out animated features without cutting back on the live action productions with their limited studio resources to work within.

here's why baloo and little john are the same 1

‘Remember Skippy, shoot the accountants first, after that the management’.

Disney’s Robin Hood was a project first mooted back in the 1930s (along with a certain movie which was to become Frozen…) but squashed by Walt’s diktat (ie. the subject matter was too ‘left-wing’), only to be resurrected upon his death from the desire to get something – anything – out at minimum cost. Robin Hood was in fact the first movie made entirely by the xerography process – with the result it only cost $1 million to make, a quarter of the cost of every Disney animated feature film from the previous two decades. Old animation set piece routines from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, The Jungle Book and their previous release The Aristocats were copied and rehashed. In comparative terms, Robin Hood was the cheapest film Disney ever made.


‘Just wait until we have the DVD release with extra content, followed by the Bluray release with extra barrel scrapings!’

Suffice to say the severe budget cut was not entirely appreciated – least of all by those who thought that by being rid of Walt a more understanding management structure would come into place – in particular Don Bluth, who was lured back to Disney in time for Robin Hood.

As a result, the film is riddled with ‘up yours’ in-jokes having a swipe at the movie’s budget cuts: Skippy having his penny-pinched by the Sheriff of Nottingham (who along with his deputies sound like stereotypical Deep South rednecks from In The Heat Of The Night), Little John being voiced by the exact same person (jazz icon Phil Harris) who voiced Baloo in The Jungle Book to make it even more pointedly obvious where some of the original drawings had originated from, Trigger calling out ‘one o’clock and all’s well’ when the clock in visible view says three, the differing sounds for the longbows and crossbows being the wrong way around… we’re sure MadameLee could tell you plenty more if she wasn’t currently sucking the wills to live out of Simmers elsewhere.

That was a Party Political Broadcast by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party

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