Disturbing Disney #14: The Salt Trap in The Jungle Book (1994)

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When Disney released a live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book last year, many seemed to have forgotten that this was the second live-action version of the story that Disney had ever made. The first was released in 1994 and stars Jason Scott Lee as Mowgli, Lena Headey (aka Cersei in Game of Thrones) as Katherine and Cary Elwes as Boone. I for one, can never wholly forget this film because it has a number of disturbing moments in the second half, one of the most disturbing coming in the Monkey City.

“The Salt Trap” from The Jungle Book (1994) (start at 1:01)

Unlike the animated film, where the Monkey City is just a pile of crumbling ruins, this version is not only loaded with treasure, but is also filled with booby traps of all kinds. Mowgli is forced by Boone and his compatriots to lead them to Monkey City so they can help themselves to the treasure (despite Mowgli’s warnings that the city is dangerous). By the time they get inside the city, most of Boone’s henchmen are dead, but a hunter named Buldeo (who incidentally left Mowgli’s father to die at the beginning of the film) is still alive and he is relentlessly pursuing Mowgli, intent on killing him. But this is complicated because Wilkins (another associate), accidentally shot him in the leg shortly before he was mauled to death by Shere Khan.

Limping all the way, Buldeo seemingly has Mowgli cornered in a sunken pavilion, when a stray shot unexpectedly causes a decoration to burst out of the wall, pouring salt out on the floor. This trips a chain reaction, where more and more decorations burst out, spilling more and more salt, and the reason why becomes clear; as the salt spills out, the roof of the pavilion is slowly lowering, meaning Mowgli and Buldeo are caught in a trap! Mowgli is able to leap out of the pit to safety, but Buldeo is hampered by his wounded leg and must hobble for the stairs, but he is caught in the growing streams of salt.

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I’m convinced it is salt and not sand because the material causes Buldeo intense pain in his wounded leg (and salt is very bad for open wounds). Also, this was supposed to be a fantastically wealthy city, so it makes sense to me that the people who built these traps could afford the luxury of using salt as part of the mechanism. All this time the ceiling is slowly but surely descending, to Buldeo’s mounting panic as it becomes clear he will NOT be able to get out in time. By the end, he is futilely pressing against the ceiling in an attempt to stop the inevitable…with a final scream the ceiling clamps down on the floor, entombing Buldeo forever in that small pit, where he will quickly suffocate (unless that salt fills up the space first).

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This scene terrified me as a child, because I would have nightmares of being trapped in that kind of a situation. To this day I can’t believe this film is ONLY rated PG because, in no particular order, we have: a man drowning in quicksand; a man being mauled to death by a tiger, people being shot, falling to their deaths, etc. But of all the deaths, Buldeo being buried alive in the Salt Trap is by far the most disturbing of all. I’d actually nearly put this scene out of my mind but I’m glad I remembered it so I could share it with all of you.

What do you think of the Salt Trap in this film? Does it disturb you? Can you believe they put this in a movie for kids? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to hear about it.

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For more Disturbing Disney see also:

Disturbing Disney #1: The Coachman in Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #2: The truth of Pleasure Island in Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #3: Escaping Monstro from Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #4: Dumbo loses his mother (1941)

Disturbing Disney #5 The death of Bambi’s Mother

Disturbing Disney #6: Faline vs. the dogs (1942)

Disturbing Disney #7: Cruella wants to do WHAT??

Disturbing Disney #8: The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met (from Make Mine Music, 1946)

Disturbing Disney #9: Dr. Facilier’s Fate (The Princess and the Frog, 2009)

Disturbing Disney #10: The rat in Lady and the Tramp (1955)

Disturbing Disney #11: Clayton’s Death in Tarzan (1999)

Disturbing Disney #12: The Bear from The Fox and the Hound (1981)

Disturbing Disney #13: “Smoking them out” in The Fox and the Hound (1981)

Disturbing Disney #15: Night on Bald Mountain from Fantasia (1940)

Disturbing Disney #16: King Triton destroys Ariel’s grotto

Disturbing Disney #17: Ratigan becomes a monster in The Great Mouse Detective

Disturbing Disney #18: The Queen’s assignment for her Huntsman

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21 thoughts on “Disturbing Disney #14: The Salt Trap in The Jungle Book (1994)

  1. Pingback: Disturbing Disney #2: The truth of Pleasure Island in Pinocchio (1940) | Film Music Central

  2. Pingback: Disturbing Disney #3: Escaping Monstro from Pinocchio (1940) | Film Music Central

  3. Pingback: Disturbing Disney #1: The Coachman in Pinocchio (1940) | Film Music Central

  4. Pingback: Disturbing Disney #11: Clayton’s Death in Tarzan (1999) | Film Music Central

  5. Pingback: Disturbing Disney #7: Cruella wants to do WHAT?? | Film Music Central

  6. Pingback: Disturbing Disney #5: The death of Bambi’s Mother (1942) | Film Music Central

  7. Pingback: Disturbing Disney #6: Faline vs. the dogs (1942) | Film Music Central

  8. Pingback: Disturbing Disney #9: Dr. Facilier’s Fate (The Princess and the Frog, 2009) | Film Music Central

  9. Pingback: Disturbing Disney #10: The rat in Lady and the Tramp (1955) | Film Music Central

  10. Pingback: Disturbing Disney #15: Night on Bald Mountain from Fantasia (1940) | Film Music Central

  11. Pingback: Disturbing Disney #13: “Smoking them out” in The Fox and the Hound (1981) | Film Music Central

  12. Pingback: Disturbing Disney #12: The Bear from The Fox and the Hound (1981) | Film Music Central

  13. Pingback: Disturbing Disney #16: King Triton destroys Ariel’s grotto | Film Music Central

  14. Pingback: Disturbing Disney #4: Dumbo loses his mother (1941) | Film Music Central

  15. Pingback: Disturbing Disney #17: Ratigan becomes a monster | Film Music Central

  16. Pingback: Disturbing Disney #8: The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met (from Make Mine Music, 1946) | Film Music Central

  17. alex

    When I first saw thus film, I thought it was a salt refrigerator not a death trap. Salt was a way of preserving food since ancient times and this was such a wealthy kingdom as you said that i thought, sure, a jungle refrigerator.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  18. Pingback: Disturbing Disney #18: The Queen’s assignment for her Huntsman | Film Music Central

  19. thestatsishere

    That entire movie is one I would never recommend for children. The salt death I had forgotten, and I’m slightly surprised it stood out to you the most. Because the ones that I remember is a guy being eaten by a python (Kaa), another killed by Shere Khan, a third sinking in a pit of quicksand, and I’m pretty there’s one more I’m missing. That whole movie was like Jungle Book meet Raiders of the Lost Ark type saga that really made little sense outside a quick thriller. But how it stayed PG makes me believe that the ratings people were either incompetent or bribed.

    And it’s hard to watch it knowing the damsel in distress goes on to play Cersei the most evil woman in Game of Thrones lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Film Music Central Post author

      I had no idea it was the same actress until I looked up the credits lol. Truthfully the quicksand death and Kaa is just as terrifying but the salt trap came up in my mind first (I meant to do a follow up but I got side tracked). At least with the quicksand and Kaa death comes quickly. In the salt trap though, I have to believe he suffers a while before he dies entombed

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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