Monday, 25 April 2016

The Jungle Book [2016 version] (4 Stars)

In 1967 Walt Disney made an animated film based on Rudyard Kipling's collection of short stories that were collected into a single volume called "The Jungle Book". Considerable rewriting was needed to thread the events of these stories into a single story. The Walt Disney film is considered to be one of the best children's films ever.

Now a new version has been made. It's called a live action film, but I use the word live very loosely. The boy in the story, Mowgli, is played by a real person, the first-time child actor Neel Sethi, but all the animals and most of the backgrounds are computer generated. The emphasis is on realism. As such, it's a masterpiece. The state of the art computer animation makes the animals look real. Even more astounding is Neel Sethi's acting, considering he was effectively performing to empty scenes, imagining the creatures that would be added later.

The new film is based on the 1967 film, rather than on Rudyard Kipling's original book. Apart from minor details the story follows the same plot as the 1967 film, with the exception of the end. You'll have to watch the film yourself to see what I mean.

The differences between the two films are more in the mood than in the story itself. The 1967 film was very child-friendly. The new version is still aimed at children, but it's aimed at today's children who are less sheltered than the children of previous generations. It's harsher. There's more violence between the animals. It's scarier.

Was the film worth remaking? That's a difficult question to answer. As a remake it's a success, and it's an enjoyable film, but was it necessary? I somehow don't think that 20 years from now it'll be considered a classic. 20 years from now children will still be watching and loving the 1967 film, while this version will be forgotten.

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