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The Jungle Book
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In this film version of Rudyard Kipling's book, Mowgli's father is killed by Shere Kahn, the tiger. The toddler boy wanders into the jungle, and is raised by wolves. Mowgli (Sabu) returns to the village in his early teens. Once his mother recognizes him, she socializes him and teaches him the native language. Intent on killing Shere Kahn, Mowgli buys a knife from Buldeo (Joseph Calleia), who hunts for reasons of pride instead of need. Though Buldeo tells his daughter Mahala not to talk to Mowgli, she goes with him into the jungle, where he shows her an abandoned palace filled with gold and jewels. A cobra warns them that the jewels are deadly. Mahala takes one coin, and when her father finds it, he wants Mowgli to show him how to get more. Other locals find out and want to find the palace, too. They find the place, but a battle over the treasure ends in deaths and a fire. Mowgli saves his mother, and returns to the jungle forever.
Is it any good?
Visually lush and striking (it was produced by some of the same people who made Thief of Bagdad), this version is in sharp contrast to the Disney animated movie. It has a real sense of the danger in the jungle and the different kinds of dangers in the "civilized" village.
Like other "fish out of water" stories, this movie provides an opportunity to deconstruct "civilization" a bit by looking at it from the perspective of an outsider. Mowgli compares of the values of the "wolf-pack" and the "man-pack," and finds it hard to understand why someone would take something of no inherent value (money) in exchange for something of value (a knife), or why someone would kill an animal to display its hide. Children will enjoy Mowgli's ability to talk to animals, and the way he treats them with respect and affection. He is clearly more at home with the animals than he is with the humans.
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