The Jungle Book With Mowgli, Baloo and Shere Khan
I can remember the day I first went to see The Jungle Book when my parents took me on a weekend outing from my school. Going to see a movie was such a treat, but there was something special about seeing this one!
Only a few years earlier our family had returned to Ireland from living in Kenya. Well, of course I was familiar with several wild animals and birds, like monkeys, snakes and vultures, but I had never come across tigers, panthers or bears before. I had read Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book on which the film was loosely based and loved the idea of a little boy being brought up by the animals.
This animated film was produced in 1967 and was the last one under the direction of Walt Disney himself.
I've often wondered why I felt that The Jungle Book has left lasting impressions on me, perhaps it's one of a sense of identity and place. I was a little boy in Africa (I know the story is based in India), and I had roamed around deep afforested areas whilst watching monkeys swinging in the trees, and vultures descending on carcases. I had even seen the occasional large python from a distance!
An orphan boy named Mowgli is discovered in a basket in the jungle by an evil-eyed looking black panther called Bagheera, who takes the boy to a mother wolf who has just had her own cubs. She raises Mowgli as her own and teaches him all about jungle life.
Years later a man-eating tiger, named Shere Khan returns to the jungle and the wolf pack realizes that Mowgli could be in danger and must be taken to the 'man village' for safety. Bagheera says he'll take him back, so the journey begins...
They stay their first night up in the branches of a tree, and it's not long before they have an encounter with Kaa, a very hungry python. Kaa swings and sways back and forth as Mowgli is hypnotized into a deep sleep while the snake wraps its coils around the boy. Ready to swallow him, Kaa is thwarted as Bagheera jumps to the rescue and all is well once again.
The next day Mowgli tries to join in on an elephant patrol that's passing by, and soon comes across chilled out Baloo, a bear with few worries. Baloo wants to look after Mowgli and show him how to live a hassle-free life, this is what it's all about thinks Mowgli while Baloo sings 'Necessities' - [the bare necessities of life].
Mowgli gets to meet King Louie, the orangutan, after being kidnapped by a troupe of monkeys, however, all is not well and chaos soon ensues. Fortunately Baloo and Bagheera come to the rescue of the little jungle boy and try to tell him that with Shere Khan patrolling the jungle he's not safe there. Fearing that he'll be sent to the 'man-village' he runs away and has further encounters with the elephant patrol and Kaa, the python, but escapes yet again after Kaa is interrupted by the vicious Shere Khan.
The next bit is one I remember well as four vultures, resembling The Beatles are perched on a branch and offer a hand of friendship to Mowgli because they have no friends themselves. Shere Khan arrives to chase off the vultures and confront Mowgli, but good 'ol Baloo is there to save the day. During a storm a tree is struck by lightning and goes on fire, the vultures descend to help distract Shere Khan while Mowgli attaches a flaming branch to his tail. The tiger hates fire and flees with his burning tail between his legs!
Baloo and Bagheera now take Mowgli to the 'man-village' where he sees a gorgeous young girl collecting water from the river. She notices him and drops her vessel on purpose, Mowgli picks it up and follows her back to the village where he remains while Baloo and Bagheera return to the jungle knowing that he's now safe.