There is a lot of hype going around the latest adaptation of Mowgli which is being watched and reviewed like hotcakes on Netflix right now! We decided to join the party and watch this nostalgic throwback to the animated version of the Jungle Book, one of the most quintessential things of being a 90’s kid. To give you all some context, Jungle Book appeared in magazines for the first time in 1893 and was a series of short stories by Rudyard Kipling who spent many years of his childhood in India.
Mowgli- Legend of the Jungle is a fairly recent adaptation of this classic and moves away from all previous adaptations that were much more child-friendly in their make. It has been directed by Andy Serkis, known for his work in the LOTR trilogy and the Planet of the Apes revival series and the cast is a good enough reason for you to go watch the film. Mowgli is played by Rohan Chand, Baloo by Andy Serkis, Sher Khan by Benedict Cumberbatch (drools) and Bagheera by Christian Bale. This troupe of formidable artists have done a great job at providing voice and motion capture movements and they have perfectly portrayed the dynamics of a jungle and its inhabitants.
Interestingly, Serkis started working on this movie approximately 7 years ago and after a series of delays, the rights were bought by Netflix for distribution and the movie also hit a few theatres in America. The story more or less follows Kipling’s original tale which a small human baby being found in the jungle after his parents are killed by the man-eating tiger Sher Khan. After this, A panther picks up the little boy and leaves him outside the cave of a wolf family who decides to raise him as their own son, a child they name Mowgli. Mowgli is brought up similar to his wolf siblings in plentiful ways: he runs on all four limbs, consumes raw meat, gets lessons from Baloo for hunting. However, with time, a lot of questions start cropping up about his identity owing to the explicit physical differences between them. When Sher Khan returns and poses a threat to his life, Bagheera makes sure Mowgli is sent away to a human settlement at the edge of the forest. But having grown in a jungle, Mowgli can’t really belong amongst his race either. The movie then goes on to capture the struggle that comes from his fluid identity and his struggle for survival in the jungle.
One thing that we observed in the movie is that it is dark, full of blood and killing and we would definitely not recommend very young chidlren to watch it. The movie opens with the death of Mowgli’s human parents, and we first see him covered in their blood. Serkis has made no attempts to censor the barbaric and visceral lifestyle of jungle. There is also a huge difference in the portrayal of certain characters such as Baloo and Kaa who were comical characters in adaptations before this and are in this movie a kind-hearted drill sergeant training young wolves, and a wise all-knowing snake whose scales are brilliantly used in a scene as mirrors or screens that offer glimpses of the past and the future.
We absolutely loved the cinematography of the film and special credits go to Michael Seresin, the Director of Photography Michael Seresin whose camera transformed into Mowgli’s and our point of view perfectly and Production Designer Gary Freeman, who recreated Kipling’s jungle very close to his imagination.