The Jungle Book Movie Review #junglebook #review
I have never seen the cartoon version and I have never read the book, so I saw the movie through unbiased eyes. I plan to find out about the plot of the original and the cartoon adaptation to see how much was ‘real’ and how much was Disneyfied.
The themes were identity, belonging, growing up/coming of age and the positive and negatives of being human – the potential power which can be harnessed for the greater good or destruction.
Mowgli is a man-cub, but he is out of his ‘natural’ habitat. He is discouraged from embracing all aspects of his human nature – he is not allowed to manipulate the environment – he is rebuked for making machines and for farming honey. He is encouraged to consider himself a wolf, as that is who has raised him.
So, his identity is in crisis and the solution to this – and to another of his problems (the fact that a mean tiger wants him dead) – is to go and live in the man village.
He then goes on a journey through the jungle passing through many different landscapes and hazards (and a flashback scene from The Lion King in the stampede) and Mowgli has various interactions with various creatures and characters that want to work with him or against him.
There is the snake that mesmerises him, the bear that wants to exploit him, the panther that wants his safety, the humongous ape that wants his knowledge about fire (that he doesn’t have). There are also the elephants who need his help and whose help he eventually needs. (And we lapse into a touch of the circle of life).
The conclusion of the movie seems to be that one should embrace all parts of ones self – but that one can work in a team with those of any sort – it was a kind of festival of equality and diversity – symbiosis.
Apart from the bad guy (SPOILER ALERT!) who ends up giving the audience a flashback to the death of Scar.
So, despite the equality and diversity thing – there was still a “them” and an “us” – the tiger was outcast because of a chip on his shoulder from years previous and a thirst for revenge.
The action scenes were good, the CGI sometimes great, sometimes a bit clunky – especially in the first scenes with the tiger coming down the mountain. The Mowgli parkour was entertaining. The eventual twists in the plot were quite heavily foreshadowed (the little elephant and the dead tree), but never mind.
So, whether it a careful or clumsy handling of literature, or a refreshing or unnecessary adaptation of a Disney classic – I don’t yet know. But at least it had interesting ideas about the value of community and the importance of individuality within that community.