In early December, Netflix added “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle” to their original collection after removing the live-action “The Jungle Book” by Disney. After Disney terminated their contract with Netflix, Netflix began to come out with a lot of their own original films. Inspired by the original “The Jungle Book,” Netflix made their own version. As “Mowgli” is more accurate to Kipling’s novel, it isn’t entirely appropriate for children. There are major differences in the movies, but all have the same component that can be connected back to the original story line; Mowgli must go back to the village he was born in, or the “man-village.”.
Walt Disney Pictures has two current installments of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book:” the animated one from 1967 and the live-action one from 2016. In the animated movie, Mowgli is found alongside a river by Bagheera, a black panther. It is assumed from the boat wreckage in the scene that his parents died after their boat crashes. Bagheera wants to leave him but can’t. He takes Mowgli to Raksha and Akela, wolves that just had cubs of their own. They raise Mowgli alongside the cubs, giving Mowgli the nickname “man-cub.” Mowgli is raised by the same wolf family and known as the man-cub in all three movies, but his story differs in some ways. In the 2016 film, Mowgli is rescued from Shere Khan by Bagheera after Mowgli’s father blinds Shere Khan and attempts to kill the child. In “Mowgli,” he is rescued after it is clear that Shere Khan killed Mowgli’s parents and wasn’t able to with Mowgli Baloo the bear is present in all three films, but his role differs. In the animated and live-action films, Baloo is a major influence on Mowgli, teaching him the bare necessities. In Netflix’s version, Baloo is the one who trains the wolf cubs so they can become part of the pack. When it is decided that Mowgli will stay with the wolf, Baloo is reluctant to train him as a wolf because he isn’t a wolf. He also doesn’t teach Mowgli about the bare necessities.
In both the 2016 and Netflix’s version, Shere Khan is crippled. He is blind in the 2016 version and has a half-burnt paw in “Mowgli” — both injuries a result of fire mishaps. Khan also takes control of the wolf pack in both live-action versions, but not in the animated version. Kaa is present in all three, but only as Khan’s sidekick in the animated. Kaa’s gender also changes from male (animated) to female (live-actions). Kaa is also able to tell the future in both live-actions compared to the animated version with the ability to hypnotize. The monkeys are present in all three; however, King Louis, the king of the monkey people, is present in the Disney “Jungle Book”s. In the animated one, he is just a regular orangutan; in the 2016 version, he is the equivalent of an extinct species of giant ape, the Gigantopithecus. He is not present at all in Netflix’s “Mowgli”. In “Mowgli” there was a wolf named Bhoot which was present in the novel but not in the Disney versions of the Jungle Book.
Overall, all three movies basically are the same given the fact that they are inspired by the same novel. Some aspects from each movie follow the original novel, but not one specific movie follows the novel. As far as each individual film goes, I was a fan of all of them. However, as I wasn’t very keen on Netflix’s version at first, I thought it was pretty good the second time I watched it. I do recommend these movies, especially “Mowgli” as they are all great films.