The Jungle Book
“Born of man, raised by animals, destined for adventure”
In the year 1967, arose an animated heart warming sensational film that became a worldwide phenomenon appealing to a wide variety of young children. Produced by Walt Disney, The Jungle Book articulates a story where a young orphan boy named Mowgli is left stranded in the deep mists of the jungle, looking to acquire new friends and a place that will provide him with food and hospitality in order to survive. Throughout the story, Mowgli admires and trusts Baloo, the carefree party bear, and Begheera, a panther, who has a heart for this jungle filled sensation of a boy. The message that can be conveyed from this compelling tale, evokes children’s emotions by allowing them to realize that regardless of who you are or what you look like, there will always be people out there that are willing to care for you when all hope may seem lost.
In contrast, some critics contend that specific scenes in The Jungle Book contain racial stereotypes depicting African-Americans as not being equally accepted into society. However, most critics believe the positive attributes of the characters in The Jungle Book outweigh the negative implications in some scenes, resulting in a storyline that is loved and cherished by children and families around the world.
Often times, people are in need of a parent, sibling, or simply a friend, to be there for them when they are in need of support and encouragement. In The Jungle Book, Baloo acts as both a friend and father figure towards Mowgli because he looks at him for who he truly is—an inspiration to the jungle. Baloo teaches Mowgli that all you need in the world is “The Bare Necessities” and that seeking a fortune cannot buy happiness in the jungle.
From the article Understanding Movies, “The major source of sound was the dialogue and the images tended to illustrate the soundtrack” (Sound 2). The lyrics and voice of an individual, in this case a character named Baloo, helps Mowgli realize by letting life come to you and accepting who you are is all you need in order to live a successful and happy life. As Baloo sings his most prize possession, a song called “Bare Necessities”, images are shown that imply his philosophy of life. One verse that perfectly describes this scenario is “Be happy with what you have”. This phrase illustrates Baloo’s belief that he does not have to venture through the jungle for more than he has because all he needs is his trees filled with honey and bananas. Baloo is a mentor to Mowgli with desirable character traits such as wisdom and experience that truly resemble an admirable individual to children all around the world. In adults, these characteristics can bring back old childhood memories prompting people to reminisce about others who have had positive influences in their lives.
Although The Jungle Book has many positive qualities, one negative connotation has been identified as an unjust depiction of one racial or ethnic group as unacceptable. This can result in an undesirable message for impressionable children. In terms of King Louie and his fellow monkey apprentices’, The Jungle Book portrays them as being all one color (i.e. black or brown). Also, I noticed that they are the only ones that speak in slang and jargon compared to the other animals who have British accents. King Louie addresses this concern when he sings his song; “I want to be like you” implying that he wants to be accepted into society just like Mowgli, who happens to be a more acceptable color. According to Gabriel Yared, “When I write music for a film, I try to connect its spirit rather than working shot by shot” (Music and Mood 1). Throughout King Louie’s song, I could feel the loss of entitlement and acceptance of not only himself, but his friends as well. I never really considered this subliminal message in the movie until I began thinking more in depth about the characters and my mind made the connection, leaving me at a loss for words.
Overall, I believe that The Jungle Book accurately portrays the ideal children’s movie of laughter and joy that we have all grown up to love. Regardless of the negative connotations, I still firmly believe that this story is one that will never be forgotten. I rate this film 4 out of 5 Slurpee's and hope that the positive attributes will leave a lifelong stamp of approval that convey the message of happiness and bliss into the hearts of children.