The Jungle Book

22 Apr

The Jungle Book – directed by Jon Favreau. Fantasy/Adventure. 105 minutes color 2016


The Story: A wild child reared by wolves in an East Indian Jungle faces comic characters and tragic perils as he faces his life head on.


I have never seen a movie like this!

This was my first impression and my last.

For there are now film processes which make of this Disney jungle a realistic world, not a cartoon one. The animals appear to be real animals. The water real water, the jungle real jungle.

This enables innumerable craftspeople to make this world move at their will. It moves as it would move, but at their will.

Thus granting one infinite security in a dangerous environment, I sit back and view Kipling’s Mowgli fight for his life and the lives of others with and against animals which abound.

It is the story of an eleven year old miniature Tarzan reared by the wolves, fostered by a black puma (Ben Kingsley) and adopted by a lazy nonchalant con artist bear (Bill Murray).

Mowgli is torn between two moralities, the ethics of his wolf training on the one hand and on the other his own human natural craftiness. Central to his dilemma is that he is also the favored and predestined prey of a tyrannical tiger (Idris Elba). He has other opponents equally large: Kaa (Scarlet Johansson), an endless Indian python who takes a liking to him, and King Louie, a Gigantopithecus Orangutan with a strong Queens accent (Christopher Walken).

But the chief charm of the film is the boy who plays Mowgli. He is a real boy, Neel Sethi, not a machine-made one, and he is delightful. He is so good I thought he was a machine-made one because his body fit seamlessly into the settings and fur. Besides, no one could do that racing through the trees and jungle. Yet, we learn he underwent parkour training to develop the alacrity, resourcefulness, and finesse to speed across high boughs, leap boulders, fly through the air, and outpace a leopard.

A number of movies of The Jungle Books have been made. The first one I saw I remember best, the 1942 version with the great Sabu and real animals. If you’ve never seen Sabu, see it; see anything with him. But all versions are enjoyable because of the fundamental necessity of the story to our lives. We need to be entertained by this vision of human inventiveness and resourcefulness and probity – in a child. It encourages us to be cunning and wise and persevering in what we are and do. It tells us that it is never too late because we are never too young. We could do this from the start!

So the story is a tonic and the film is a miracle. The version I saw was in 3D, and I recommend you see that too. I am a very old man and I adored it. Not a moment of it was lost on me. And if you are any younger than what will turn you into a very old man one day, you will have a wonderful and important recollection in your tummy if you go.

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