Balloo, Bagheera, Kaa and the other characters from the classic movie The Jungle Book animate the video by the artist David Claerbout entitled The Pure Necessity, but in an unexpected way. If the Disney classic released in 1967 was animated by wild dances, dynamism and a strong human characterization of the animal characters, inside Clearbout’s project the animals return to their true nature. The times have slowed down, the dance steps disappear in order to give space to a exploration and observation of the jungle.

The Pure Necessity is a 50-minute video made with the 2D animation technique: considering the labor and the quantity of images, it required three years for the artist, together with other collaborators, to end the project. Taking up the characteristics of the animal protagonists of the Disney film, the artist has carried out a series of studies on their behaviors and anatomy, focusing on the technique of drawing, a medium that is at the center of his artistic practice. After these researches and actions it was possible to arrive at the assembly of movements and consequently to the animation. Clearbout makes a real negative of The Jungle Book by going to study its skeleton and completely deconstructing the original movie. The result is a new film, an extraordinary revers in which the characters rediscover a new degree of freedom which is not inside the emancipation and the adherence to modernity, rather inside returning to the origins.

This return speaks to us of slowness as we enter an existential sphere in which the characters, free from anthropomorphization, can roam the jungle and can simply be themselves. This work stands out against the speed and dynamism that characterize human thoughts and activities in an increasingly accelerated era with the tendency loosing control. The artist focuses on the importance of the perception of time and on our adherence to it, placing the emphasis on the role of the individual as a subject within an enlarged and complex system of relationships. The animals are left to wander alone, in contrast to the imitation of parties and dances that follow the script of the original. The choice to redesign the animated version of the classic The Jungle Book is part of a reflection on today’s society in which the individual is confronted with a context in which the trust and the pursuit of sharing possibilities that permeated the Sixties, have left the place, in the 21st century, of a sense of bewilderment and loneliness in the face of challenges – first and foremost that of technological acceleration – which seem less and less reachable.

David Clearbout, depriving animation of animation itself, proposes a contradiction that becomes a investigation into the cinematographic medium itself and at the same time raises questions about the current needs of the individual and his living and acting in a community or, more generally, in society.


David Clearbout, The Pure Necessity, 2016
Color animation, single channel video projection, stereo audio, duration 50:00 min, Courtesy the artist and Esther Schipper Berlin, still ©David Clearbout


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