The pure necessity
2016, single channel projection, 2D animation, stereo sound, 50 min
Rather than repeating the story of a little boy abandoned in the middle of a jungle, far from civilisation, David Claerbout's take on the animated movie classic from 1967 turns the sentimental and comic story about dancing, singing, and trumpet-playing jungle animals into a film that dispenses with the 'humanization' of animals, and even with the 'man-cub'. The animals behave instead in a manner befitting their species. Balloo, Bagheera and Kaa, whose songs and slapstick acts have been delighting children and adults alike for decades, are now back to being bear, panther and python.
Over a period of 3 years, David Claerbout and a team of professional artists painstakingly redrew the frames of the original movie by hand, one by one, and then assembled them to create an entirely new, lifeless animation -a contradiction in terms-which stands in raw contrast to the lively and rythmical original.Now devoid of narrative, the animals move amidst the jungle as if the story were of their own making.
Claerbout writes that "In 1967 The Jungle Book appeared in movie theaters, in a time of proliferation of movie theaters and television after the second world war. the cinema became a place where people came to sit down together in silence, side by side, subcontracting the conversation to the screen. After all, many had recently gone trough two world wars of which the first was the war to end all wars.
Cinema had become a unifying space. Destruction, the carnivalesque, romance or dance could be replayed ritualistically in a temporal space that was certain to end, and often did end well.
Only now that we watch content on tablets -alone- it becomes possible to appreciate cinema and television as a place for being together, even if that means just sitting side by side in silence.
If what Margaret Thatcher said back in the eighties became true: that there is no society, only individuals and their families, it should be no surprise that by the year 2017 the once energetic characters of Jungle Book are folded back onto themselves in silence. This may reflect back onto the spectator looking at 'Die reine Notwendigkeit', he or her too, looking in solitude, not in a cinema filled with others.
The choice to work with Jungle Book was not accidental. The story is that of the strong and potentially cruel helping the weak, until emancipated and ready to face modern life. Around 1967, the individual did not look anything like the individual of today. The individual was a single brick in the architecture of society, today the individual is that society, millions of them.
David Claerbout ©2023