Many people remember Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book’ with fondness. Even the recent remake, despite losing most of the story’s comedic elements, could still be enjoyed by adults and children alike. When a film relating to The Jungle Book is released, a lot of people won’t be expecting for it to be dark and slightly twisted at times. ‘Mowgli’, was originally a Warner Brothers’ production, before being sold to Netflix in July 2018 who then released it on their platform in December 2018. The film has many recognisable voices including Andy Serkis, who also directed the film, as Baloo the bear, Christian Bale as Bagheera, Benedict Cumberbatch as Shere Kahn and Cate Blanchett as Kaa.
This isn’t the first lovable children’s story that Netflix has made a twist to. The streaming platform has also recently released a new television series based on Sabrina the Witch, ‘The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’. Sabrina was done a little better, keeping the essence of the old show and its characters. The characters in Mowgli are different from both Disney’s creations. They make unexpected choices throughout the story and are shown to have a darker side to them, especially to the good ones. You will also find that one of the vital characters from The Jungle Book is missing and three new characters are added, such as Shere Khan’s right-hand hyena, one of Mowgli’s wolf brothers and a colonial hunter.
Some good things about the story, however, are that they include a back story to Bagheera, giving greater understanding to the black panther’s compassion. It’s clear in The Jungle Book as to why certain animals act in the way they do because their characters are stereotypically associated with the animals they are. However, this might be due to the lack of common knowledge on Panthers, but it has always been unclear as to why Bagheera brought baby Mowgli to the pack of wolves. The film also shows many elements of Indian culture and showing the beauty of it through Mowgli’s eyes. A colonial hunter is added as one of the main characters. A man who has come to the Man Village to protect the people from the tiger. Some may argue that the cast should have been kept to actors from Indian descent, but the filmmakers have done it in a way that portrays colonialism in a terrible light.
In terms of similarities, the main story stays pretty much the same way but just told differently. You won’t be surprised to see Shere Khan as vicious as ever, with his goal being set on killing Mowgli. The way the filmmakers have cut the scenes also brings you back to the original Disney picture. It’s done in such a way, that it feels abrupt and contrasted, with viewers being brought to a rather peaceful scene straight after an action-packed one.
Altogether, the film is a great watch and the twist on the story has been done well. Fans of Disney’s The Jungle Book will be avidly disappointed in this one, especially those who grew up continuously watching the film on VHS. You won’t be brought back to the beloved Jungle, instead, just like Mowgli in this one, you will come to realise the harsh realities of the animal kingdom.
By Sam Dawson
Images provided by Netflix