Disney recently released a much-anticipated remake of the classic film The Jungle Book, based on the book by Rudyard Kipling. Here is a Christian review of the kids movie from Minno blogger and mom of 2 Jess Chambers.
In true Disney fashion, the introduction to the remake of The Jungle Book throws the viewer right into the story from the opening scene. It begins with the iconic image of the Disney Castle, which has commenced so many classic films, and quickly spans deep into the woods as a young Mowgli is racing through the jungle with his adoptive family and learning the ways of survival in the forest.
The story line doesn’t stray too far from the original movie released in 1967, but technology has breathed new life into these timeless characters and provided another box office hit for a once classic film and Rudyard Kipling’s beloved collection of stories. This is Disney’s second attempt at a remake of the original version, which was the last film that Walt Disney himself spoke into before his death in 1966.
The story line likely needs no introduction, but under Jon Favreau’s direction, this movie is fresh and visually stunning. The use of Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) technology creates a world where it seems normal for wolves to parent a young child who has been lost in the woods. The viewer may easily find themselves lost in the story, forgetting that the main characters are mostly animals. The images of the enchanted landscape of the jungle hold beauty in one hand and darkness in the other.
Along the way, the man cub, Mowgli, forges relationships with animals who serve as his protectors as he learns the ways of the world – even in the jungle. It’s comforting to follow a story line that parallels life in the wild with so many of the same struggles of the real world. We watch as Mowgli finds that life, no matter where it’s lived, isn’t fair. In his heart he feels he belongs in the wild with the wolves and panther who’ve raised him and the free-spirited bear he chose as a best friend.
However, the tiger Shere Khan clearly doesn’t think that the man cub should be welcomed into the jungle. The theme of belonging is ever-present, and can provide a great jumping off point for conversations with your kids about acceptance. Mowgli is certain that his home is with these animals and that they are his family, but his outer image isolates him from the world he so deeply wants to be a part of because it the only home he’s ever known. He often uses his deep sense of ingenuity as his survival mechanism. This intuition proves to show the difference between him and the creatures he has grown to love and call his family.
The film is fast paced and just as stunning for the life lessons it teaches as it is for the rich imagery it projects. It’s littered with nuggets of truth about the importance of knowing who you are and fighting for what you believe to be true in life.
As a mom of two boys, 4 and 7, I struggled with whether or not watching this film would be a family adventure. I chose to watch it beforehand and I am grateful I did. The intensity of the action and the realistic computer-generated effects make this movie a bit too thrilling for little ones. The mature themes and emotions that the character Mowgli encounters and navigates made it a bit too heavy for my little ones to experience just yet. While at its core this is a children’s story that is rich in life lessons, I believe this return to The Jungle Book should be best taken by kids 10 and older.