I recently had the pleasure of watching the fantasy adventure film, The Jungle Book.
Mowgli is a “man cub” raised by the Indian wolf Raksha and her pack, led by Akela, in a jungle of Seoni, Madhya Pradesh, ever since he was brought to them as a baby by the black panther Bagheera. Bagheera trains Mowgli to learn the ways of the wolves, but the boy faces certain challenges and falls behind his wolf siblings, and Akela disapproves of him using human tricks like building tools instead of learning the ways of the pack.
One day, during the dry season, the jungle animals gather to drink the water that remains as part of a truce during a drought that enables the jungle’s wildlife to drink without fear of being eaten by their predators. The truce is disrupted, however, when a scarred Bengal tiger, Shere Khan, arrives, detecting Mowgli’s scent in the crowd. Resentful against man for scarring him, he issues a warning that he will kill Mowgli at the end of the drought. As the wolves debate whether they should keep Mowgli or not, Mowgli decides to leave the jungle for the safety of his pack. Bagheera agrees with the decision and volunteers to guide him to the nearby man village.
En route, Shere Khan ambushes them and injures Bagheera, but Mowgli manages to escape. Later, Mowgli meets an enormous python named Kaa, who hypnotizes him. While under Kaa’s influence, Mowgli sees a vision of his father being mauled while protecting him from Shere Khan. The vision also warns of the destructive power of the “red flower” (fire). Kaa attempts to devour Mowgli, but he is rescued by a sloth bear named Baloo. Baloo and Mowgli bond while retrieving some difficult-to-access honey for Baloo, and Mowgli agrees to stay with Baloo until the winter season arrives. Shere Khan meanwhile, upon learning that Mowgli has left the jungle, kills Akela and threatens the pack to lure Mowgli out.
Bagheera eventually finds Mowgli and Baloo and is angered that Mowgli has not joined the humans as agreed. An argument flares between Mowgli and Bagheera, but Baloo calms them down and persuades both of them to sleep on it. During the night, Mowgli finds a herd of elephants gathered around a ditch, and uses his vines to save a baby elephant from the ditch. Although Baloo and Bagheera are both impressed, Baloo realizes that he cannot guarantee Mowgli’s safety after learning that he is being hunted by Shere Khan. Baloo agrees to push Mowgli away to get him to continue onward to the man village.
Mowgli is kidnapped by the Bandar-log (monkeys) who present him to their leader, a giant ape named King Louie. Assuming that all humans can make fire, King Louie offers Mowgli protection from Shere Khan in exchange for it. Baloo distracts Louie while Bagheera tries to sneak him out but their plan is discovered. As Louie chases Mowgli through his temple, he informs Mowgli of Akela’s death. Louie’s rampage eventually causes his temple to collapse on top of him. Furious that Baloo and Bagheera never told him about Akela’s death, Mowgli goes to confront Shere Khan alone.
Mowgli steals a lit torch at the village to use as a weapon and heads back to the jungle, accidentally starting a wildfire in the process. He confronts Shere Khan, who argues that Mowgli has made himself the enemy of the jungle by causing the wildfire. Mowgli throws the torch into the water, giving Shere Khan the advantage. Baloo, Bagheera, and the wolf pack intervene and hold Shere Khan off, giving Mowgli enough time to set a trap. He lures Shere Khan up a dead tree and onto a branch, which breaks under the tiger’s weight, and Shere Khan falls into the inferno. Mowgli then directs the elephants to divert the river and put out the fire.
In the aftermath, Raksha becomes the new leader of the wolf pack. Mowgli decides to utilize his equipment and tricks for his own use, having found his true home and calling with his wolf family, Baloo, and Bagheera.
It was a spectacular adaptation of the source material (both the original novel and the animated Disney film), and there were plenty of parts that gave me goosebumps. The plot was strong, the acting and voice acting by all involved was excellent, and it was an absolute joy to watch from start to finish. It’s a film for children and adults alike, and I can’t recommend ithighly enough.
Thanks for reading.