die reine notwendigkeit

single channel projection, 2D animation, black & white, stereo sound, 60 min

The film Die reine Notwendigkeit (2016) is a surprising adaptation of the animated movie classic The Jungle Book of 1967. Claerbout’s one-hour loop turns the sentimental and comical story about dancing, singing, and trumpet-playing jungle animals into a film that has dispensed all ‘humanization’ of the animals – but also its young protagonist Mowgli – and portrays them instead in a manner befitting their species. Baloo, Bagheera and Kaa, whose songs and slapstick acts have been delighting children and adults alike for decades, are now back to being pure bear, panther and python. For Die reine Notwendigkeit, the artist painstakingly redrew the frames of Wolfgang Reitherman’s prototype by hand, one by one, and then assembled them to create an entirely new film. Now no more than shadowy outlines, the animals move around before a jungle backdrop. Claerbout alludes to the original only in the work’s title, Die reine Notwendigkeit, a reference to Baloo the Bear’s song about the “bare necessities of life”.

Despite the fact that David Claerbout’s Die reine Notwendigkeit completely eliminates the narrative of the original, it holds a fascination of its own. It is the viewer’s associations that account for this quality, but also the oddly stiff and jerky movements of animals as strange to us as they are familiar. The ambiguity and incongruity of the protagonists, on whom a human ego was first imposed, only to be deprived of it again in Claerbout’s adaptation, serve to charge the completely eventless film narrative with a suggestive tension virtually impossible to put a finger on.

Rather than telling the story of a little boy abandoned, far from civilization, in the middle of a jungle and in the midst of its fauna, Claerbout’s film loop culminates anew every hour on the hour – somewhat like a clock – in the final scene of the original animated film. It is the moment in which a young girl comes to the edge of the jungle to fetch water.

artist : david claerbout
production: claerbout studio
sound: kwinten van laethem

Die reine Notwendigkeit (trailer) from Claerbout Studio on Vimeo.