I’m sure you’re all familiar with either Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Books, or the movie adaptations by Disney. Either way, as I have just about finished reading The Jungle Books for the first time, and I recently saw the new Disney film, I wanted to do a little comparison between the two. This does include some spoilers if you haven’t seen the live action version of The Jungle Book, or if you haven’t read the book itself.
First of all, both the animated The Jungle Book and the live action The Jungle Book are both very different from Rudyard Kipling’s story. Yes, Mowgli, Balloo, Bagheera and Shere Khan are still very prominent characters in both, but the actual stories themselves are not exactly the same. When Walt Disney’s original animation came out, they knew it was going to be very different from the get go. I mean, in the book there are no singing monkeys.
However, at the end of most chapters, there are poems which are meant to be like songs of the Jungle, so I suppose in that sense, the book and the films are kind of the same. For those of you who have seen the newest adaption of The Jungle Book, you’ll remember the part when all the animals of the jungle come to the same place to drink. Because of the drought, there is a peace treaty, as in the predators are not allowed to kill the other animals whilst they are at the watering hole. This is the same in the book, yet this part of is in the second Jungle Book. In the film, this is fairly close to the beginning.
The main differences I’ve noticed is that each chapter in the book is like it’s own short story, making up one whole story. Sometimes Kipling will go back and forwards in time, sometimes he will refer to things that have happened already if that is relevant to the story he is about to tell. Whereas in both of the films, they have taken certain aspects from the book and put it into a linear narrative. Some of the characters which we all know have slightly different characteristics, or they are portrayed differently. For example, in both films, as I’m sure you’ll remember, Kaa the snake is made out to be sneaky, manipulative, hypnotizing as he wants to eat Mowgli… yet, in the book, this is not the case. Kaa actually helps Bagheera and Balloo save Mowgli when he is captured by the monkeys and taken to their “kingdom”.
Finally, all three have slightly different endings for Shere Khan. The book has Mowgli successfully killing the tiger when he is living in the village with the other people, and he skins Shere Khan and this is placed on top of the Wolves Cave. Brutal, I know. You definitely don’t want to see that in the Disney version, which is probably why they didn’t include it. In the animation, I believe Shere Khan just runs away, but I haven’t watched that one in absolutely ages so please correct me if I’m wrong. And in the live action version of The Jungle Book, Mowgli again is somewhat responsible for the death of Shere Khan, as he brings fire into the jungle and the tiger falls into the flames. What was interesting though, was when I watched it, I didn’t want to see him die because I hate it in films when any animal dies, whether they’re evil or not. Yet when I read the book, I didn’t have that same feeling of sadness.
I have to say that the newest adaption of The Jungle Book is very similar to the original story when compared with Disney’s animation of it. It is much darker, and the lack of songs also makes it like Kipling’s original story. If you asked me which of the three I like the best… I would probably have to go for all three. They’re all so different, yet they tell the same story in different ways. I can’t choose.