“The Jungle Book”

Rudyard Kipling wrote the rhythmic and balanced line : “for the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack”. Why scriptwriter Justin Marks had the trusted bear Baloo call this chant “propaganda” neglects the revolutionary theme of diverse creatures working together.

In fact, all “The  Jungle” ‘s  creatures could be grouped according to those with primarily self-interest and revenge on their minds ( take Kaa, King Louis and  Shere Khan,as examples) and those with aid and support of others foremost in mind ( like Bagherra, Akela, Raksha and Baloo) The Peace Rock scenes mirror nirvana for a time, where all hierarchies are put aside.

I was very pleased that my six-year-old grandniece selected the little group of tumbling, squealing wolf cubs, especially Grey Brother, as her favorite animal of “The Jungle”. Practicing their howls, having fun and cooperating seem like  values consistent with a kindergarten graduate.

Jon Faureau directs some scary scenes. The natural laws of the forest primeval are here. (Warning to those considering taking a two,three, or four-year-old) Learning how to run is highly sanctioned.  Neel Sethi, as Mowgli, practices with the panther, Bagheera, at the film’s start. Ben Kingsley’s voice is mellow and fatherly in his admonitions.

In fact, for me,  it is the voices that have prominence in this film. Christopher Walken’s orangutan, King Louis, is terrifying , as are his monkey hoards. His ” I want to be you” just may be problemed-solved by swallowing Mowgli up whole. And Scarlet Johannson’s hypnotic and sensuously-voiced Python lulls us into danger with its warmth.

One of my favorite scenes is of Baloo ( Bill Murray, sounding like Seth Rogen ) becoming Mowgli’s river raft as they both sing “The Bare Necessities”. Mowgli, the man- cub of Kipling’s imagination, demonstrates his tricks (  his problem-solving ) by constructing all kinds of pulleys and crane-like devices to help the lazy Baloo retrieve his  beloved honeycombs.

Mother and father wolves score high points for sacrifice and love. Another reason why I loved my charge’s favorite animal choice.  Akela ( Giancarlo Esposito) and Raksha  ( Lupita Nyong’o) soar above the Bengal tiger Shere Khan ( Idris Elba) in  nurturing warm fuzzies.

According to “The Guardian”, ” The Jungle Book”  2016 has garnered 684 million dollars worldwide so far. I don’t know exactly why 1893 original magazine stories and their moral tales draw such attention, but teaching younger viewers to stay in their seats until the final credits roll is a laudable goal. Teach them to watch the scroll of first names and scout for their own.  My grandniece found no ” Lydias”, but she did count eight “James’, her little brother’s name. Teach the young that    “going  to the movies” supports the creative work of many. “The Jungle Book” ‘s theme of cooperation will be even further enhanced.

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Christine Muller

Carrying a torch for film is what I have done for over forty years, thus the flambleau flamed when I was urged to start a blog. Saving suitcase loads of ticket stubs was no longer relevent so I had to change the game. Film has been important for me in the classroom and a respite for me outside of it. No other art form seems to edge the frayed seams of life as neatly as when a film is done well. I am happy that over one-hundred countries have citizens viewing my thoughts on Word Press, and a few leaving their own with me. Over eight- hundred comments to date, and over two-hundred films reviewed.

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