Animation has to be sensationally compelling to ambush my attention and even more fascinating for me to become emotionally invested in the characters. Disney’s “The Jungle Book” , inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s iconic tales, directed by Jon Favreau (“Chef”), staring child prodigy Neel Sethi, is a film to be viewed more than once, an enchanting story, rich with lessons, for all ages, profound, at times terrifying, but always pragmatically realistic.
“Mowgli”, “man-cub” (Sethi), raised by wolves ( voices of Lupita Nyong’o and Giancarlo Esposito as his protective parents) is being threatened by “Shere Khan” ( powerful voice of Idris Elba) a wrathful, brutal tiger who was maimed by Mowgli’s fire -wielding father. It was a painful, arresting decision to cast Mowgli out of the pack; his acclimatized jungle intrepidness cannot save him from the vengeance of Shere Khan. His journey to the camp of the two-legged creatures is paved with Ulysses travails, particularly unnerving is his encounter with slithering snake “Kaa” (syrupy, lusty voice of Scarlett Johansson), a “Siren” who hypnotically lures him into darkness and doom; he is championed by “Baloo” a slothful bear (Bill Murray) and “Bagheera” a sleek, black panther (Ben Kingsley). Dramatically filmed, nature’s unpredictable whims, captured magnificently, pulsate throughout “The Jungle Book”.
“Now the law of the Jungle, as old and as true as the sky; the wolf that shall keep it may prosper but the wolf that shall break it must die…the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack”. Kipling’s words recognize the dictates of the pack transcend the individual, and at times vice versa.
“The Jungle Book” sheds a sublime, uncompromising message that touch mammal and mankind alike.