It was my first moment of spiritual Eureka mixed with awesomeness and bewilderment in terra incognita when I first read The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. It was a wonderful pictorial book painted with the scenes from the Disney’s classic animated film version. To the child’s eye, it was like a fiesta of vivid colors and vivacious characters set in motion in the heart of jungle I had never seen. What’s more, the animals were so humanlike and likable into the bargain that while reading the book, I almost forgot that they were beasts speaking their own language, which I was able to understand through the presence of Mowgli, who looked a lot like Tarzan in diminutive stature and size wearing only a loincloth and long dark hair. Mowgli’s knack of communicating with his beastly friends who were always there for him even compelled me to try talking to my domestic puppy Nena at that time by using a quaint conflation of the human alphabets and the doggie phonetics to a moderate success.
Now I am pitchforked forward in 2018, but the childlike sensation of reading The Jungle Book still resonates strongly with me in defiance against the existential horrors of life that I deal with everyday. Amid the the detritus of daily chores and duties, I turned to Disney’s remake of The Jungle Book (2016), which I chose to watch on my Kindle Fire a few nights ago. At first blush, I had a certain indisposition to watch the highly-acclaimed film: although I am not altogether unreconstructed in terms of watching a film version of classic literature, I tend to shun adopted film versions of classic literature because of the gratuitous rendering of post modernist revisionist interpretations of the books they put on screen. But such misgiving was proved to be an unnecessary mental albatross.
The Jungle Book is a cinematic eye candy to children and adults with its stunning visual impacts and a spectacular scale of the story set in the background of a deep jungle somewhere in India populated with a cast of magnificent characters representing human characteristics in different forms. To classify this film as an anthropomorphic children’s film is to miss the essence of Kipling’s allegorical allusion of our human nature to multifarious animal forms: Sloth, Integrity, Conscience, Humor, Greed, and Vengeance, all of which is manifested in contact with the nature itself whose essence is of neutrality. It is in this background of nature, which is neither paradise nor hell where our human nature becomes conspicuous in its very essence, a primeval form. The manifestation of such human traits is a fortiori overcome by the figure of Mowgli, a feral child brought by a benevolent wolf family. Mowgli is an emblematic of resilience, independence, and courage against the gravitas of trepidation, death, and despondency.
Given the authenticity of the storytelling aligned with the original context by Kipling and the performance of the characters studded with breathtaking scenes of nature so characteristic of Disney’s creative imaginativeness, it is a film worth of the spending your time on screen. It is a kind of film that stimulates your mind by inviting you to think about a meaning of our human life and existence and of our purpose of life. It will also thrill your heart with the adventures of Mowgli in the heart of the jungle and the stereoscopic views of the nature on screen created by a wonderful collaboration of our timeless human imaginations and 21st century feats of technological bona fides.