Rikki Tikki Tavi, TV (1975)

Thanks to Melissa – in the comments to this post – I realized that Rikki Tikki Tavi, the cartoon I saw on television when i was 8 years old is on Youtube. It’s in three parts. I just watched it again. It’s fantastic. And it’s just so interesting to me how memory works – that was so so long ago, but the images remain – especially the HORRIFYING moment during the first fight between Rikki Tikki Tavi and Nag when Nag’s back flies towards the camera (you forget that you are watching something DRAWN as opposed to something ACTUAL) and for a sickening moment, his cobra markings take up the screen and go psychedelic. That was a horrifying moment for me as a child, as sickening as the moment, years and years later when I saw Vertigo and she emerged from the bathroom and the room went all green and you knew that he was mad. That’s what I felt in that moment, as a small child … that if I looked too long at that image I would go mad. The animals in the garden understood that well, and knew not to look directly at the cobra’s eyes … but those markings – turning colors – filling up the screen – It’s one of the scariest moments of movies that I can remember from when I was a wee one. It felt like what happened, when the image went abstract, is that it insinuated itself into my brain. shivers. I remember that so clearly.

I have included that moment below in my screengrabs. You know what is so scary about it? It’s gleeful. That’s what it is. It reminds me of Pennywise, from Stephen King’s It, the chortling cynical clown who ADORES how afraid you are. That’s what that cobra marking gone to different colors and filling up the screen reminds me of. It is something scary that thinks it is hilarious how frightened you are.

Also, I did not realize that it was narrated by Orson Welles.

I love how Rikki Tikki Tavi moves – how he fluffs out his tail, how he zips around and the tail zips around after him, and it feels like it takes a minute and a half for his tail to catch up.

The animation is superb.

The “set direction” is fantastic. I can feel that house. The Victorian-era lamps and portraits on the walls, the big fat chairs … and I love the use of close-up foreground to way way background. It makes Rikki Tikki Tavi seem WAY too small to stand up to two angry cobras. He looks positively dwarfed in that house.

God, that was so much fun to watch again. I love reencountering something I loved as a child and find that it holds up!

Grabbed some images off of Youtube.

This entry was posted in Television and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Rikki Tikki Tavi, TV (1975)

  1. Kerry says:

    Oh, I LOVED that movie as a child, just absolutely loved it. Thanks so much for this post. I am going to watch it again. I was so scared by the cobras. . .

  2. melissa says:

    I watched it again, and it makes me sad for children’s movies today. This is so wonderful – sad, scary, happy, hopeful. Rikki is a role model. (OK, I trip over the line about every mongoose’s dream is to become a house mongoose, but…). I mean – he doesn’t rest on his laurels. He does great things and stays focused, even when others are (literally!) singing his praises.

    Why isn’t this still shown?

    Did you see this as a child also? (I saw it in school at one point, and it stuck with me almost as much as Rikki Tikki Tavi).


    (animated Tell Tale Heart)

  3. ricki says:

    I forgot how scary that one image (sixth? from last – where the snake is coming up to the boy when the family is on the veranda). Wasn’t the dialog there something like, “If he moves…I strike. If he does not move…I strike.”


    It’s also interesting that I can look at these shots as an adult and go, “Oh, Chuck Jones!” He had such a distinctive style…so many of the expressions on the animals.

  4. Dan says:

    I loved that show too – along with the animated ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ it dominated my childhood.

  5. nightfly says:

    Last night I re-watched this, with the story in my hands to follow along. Jones was very smart, and essentially lifted most of the dialogue intact from Kipling, trimming only here and there – even the song of Darzee the Tailorbird is exactly as Kipling wrote it. Welles’ narration is pretty much word-for-word in most places.

    And there was none of that over-done voice acting involved like in many children’s videos. So well done.

Comments are closed.