The Jungle Book

Remember the adventures of Mowgli the man cub raised by wolves in the deep jungles of India who hung out with best friends Baloo the singing bear, and Bagheera the silky Black Panther? Well they’re back. And they’re bigger and better than ever in this latest magical retelling to receive Disney’s digital live-action treatment. 

Based on the classic animated feature film, The Jungle Book (1967), which was an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s beloved timeless collection of animal fables, Jon Favreau’s Jungle Book is stunningly beautiful and hugely enjoyable to watch, retaining all its charm while expanding the spectacle of Mowgli’s vast jungle world.

Roaring back onto the big screen, like Disney’s other recent live-action remakes of its classic animated films; Alice in Wonderland (2010), Snow White & the Huntsman (2012) and Maleficent (2014), The Jungle Book does a magnificent job of re-imagining this enduring children’s tale, breathing new life into the time-honored traditional animal fable while staying true to the spirit of its origins.

Hunted by the wounded man-eating tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba), who wants to kill Mowgli (Neel Sethi) before he grows into a man and becomes a threat to him and the rest of the forest animals, the feral boy decides he must leave his jungle home to protect his wolf pack brothers.

Baloo the bear (Bill Murray), and Bagheera the Black Panther (Ben Kingsley) who has undertaken Mowgli’s training and education in the laws of the jungle, accompany him on his journey that will return him to the human village where he will be safe from harm. 

The original 1967 animated film has a special place in my heart as it was one of the first feature films I saw as a child, and I’m still to this day intrigued by animal fables and jungle stories. What attracted me back then was the visually splendid and shadowy depths of the jungle world, and the array of strange wild creatures that lived there. 

The Jungle Book had a nostalgic feel of a childhood fondly remembered and a mythical coming-of-age tale that marked the end of one idealized freewheeling life of discovery, and the beginning of another more structured world of rules and responsibilities.

Kipling was himself born of English parents in British colonial India, where he grew up with Indians and the many species of exotic Indian animals living in and around the dark tropical forest. He was inspired to create the world of The Jungle Book from memories of his childhood spent in India and the rich tradition of ancient Indian beast fables many Indians grew up with, like the Jataka Tales, The Panchatantra, and The Hitopadesha Tales which gave The Jungle Book its mythical quality.

These allegorical tales are as relevant today as ever and can easily be adapted to suit a modern society which is what Disney and Cowboys & Aliens (2011) director Jon Favreau have done here using new digital technology to create eye popping visuals that immerse us in a majestic three dimensional world of jungle wildlife a la Life of Pi (2012).

In this darker, action-packed version, Mowgli is no vulnerable little child that needs protecting, he is a curious and courageous kid with a knack for using “tricks”; inventing new tools that he uses to help his jungle friends. 

All the iconic characters from the original Disney film are back, voiced by well-known actors including Bill Murray as Baloo, Christopher Walken as King Louie, king of the Apes, and Scarlett Johansson as Kaa the sly python.

The Jungle Book is great entertainment for the whole family and re-energizes the age-old tradition of talking animal fables for a new generation while also re-kindling moviegoer’s childhood memories. 


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