The first trailer for the long-gestating Andy Serkis-directed version of The Jungle Book was released today.

Mowgli, a dark take on Rudyard Kipling’s stories, was written by Callie Kloves. It’ll be released in U.S. theaters on October 19.

The actors performing the mo-cap roles of the central animal characters are Christian Bale as Bagheera, Cate Blanchett as Kaa, Benedict Cumberbatch as Shere Khan, Naomie Harris as Nisha, and Andy Serkis as Baloo. Mowgli is portrayed by Rohan Chand.

Serkis, speaking to Gizmodo about the balance between the original motion capture of the actors and the work of animators who followed, was slightly more generous than usual, acknowledging that animators are involved in crafting believable animals. Said Serkis:

Because of the quadruped nature of the animals, the animators had to work tirelessly to capture the actors ‘performances. I mean, you know, the Framestore, who did the visual effects on this, have really made an incredible contribution to the movie. It’s great animation which takes the physical cues the actors are giving and turning them into believable animals, honoring the emotional engagement of the actors’ performances.

Serkis, however, still continues to push his illogical make-up analogy, pointing out that John Hurt got a nomination for The Elephant Man, even though he was in make-up, and therefore motion capture actors should receive acting nominations as well. It’s problematic for the simple fact that it reduces the contribution of an animator to nothing more than dressing up the actor, when in fact we clearly know that vfx animators are in large part responsible for crafting the emotional life of mo-cap creature performances, particularly when it comes to body language.

We’re not going to come to a satisfactory resolution to this issue in a post about the film’s trailer, so let’s move on. On the creative side of Mowgli, Michael Seresin (War for the Planet of the Apes) is director of photography, Gary Freeman (Tomb Raider) is production designer, and Mark Sanger (Gravity), Alex Marquez (Snowden), and Jeremiah O’Driscoll (Flight) are editors. The music is composed by Nitin Sawhney.

Mowgli is produced by Steve Kloves (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Jonathan Cavendish (Breathe, performance capture producer on Godzilla), and David Barron (Harry Potter films), with Nikki Penny serving as executive producer.

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