In what is yet another remake of "The Jungle Book," Warner Bros. has released the first trailer for "Mowgli," directed by Andy Serkis, he of "The Lord of the Rings" fame. What’s the difference between this version and the multiple others, you ask? Well, this one is giving me mild nightmares.
Serkis was originally trying to release this version before the 2016 Disney remake, but Walt’s minions beat him out -- and brought in a casual $966 million worldwide. Is two years enough time to wipe your palette clean of this story?
This take is earning its PG-13 rating (versus the PG Disney version by Jon Favreau) by giving the original narrative a closer read. Rudyard Kipling published “The Jungle Book” in 1984 as a collection of stories about the man-cub Mowgli and his relationship with the world around him. What didn’t make it into Disney’s adaptations were the dark political and societal undertones that Kipling laced throughout his writing.
Kipling grew up in England and moved to India to work for almost seven years; he drew a lot of inspiration for his stories from his own childhood and his experience with human nature and the Indian jungle.
This new movie seems to be drawing a lot more of its subject matter from Kipling’s ideas, granting Mowgli’s identity a larger spotlight.
We actually see the village Mowgli presumably came from, which is just barely introduced in past versions. He is interacting with his fellow humans now (or, maybe “interacting” is the wrong word -- he’s, like, locked in a cage for the first few frames of the trailer), most likely opening the door for Serkis to explore the themes that are so prevalent in the original stories, like abandonment and one’s place in a community.
It doesn’t seem like we’ll get any of the comic relief that we’ve come to expect from Baloo the bear, who Serkis himself will lend his voice to. (Friendly reminder that he was previously Gollum in the “Lord of the Rings” franchise and Caesar in “Planet of The Apes.”)
In fact, Serkis says that in the original story, Baloo acted more as a “drill sergeant” to keep Mowgli in line rather than a frivolous friend. I would assume we won’t be hearing “Bare Necessities” this time around.
“The ambition for this project is huge. What we are attempting is an unprecedented level of psychological and emotional nuance in morphing the phenomenal performances of our cast into the facial expressions of our animals,” Serkis told The Independent.
Uh, yeah, you did it, Serkis. Benedict Cumberbatch and Cate Blanchett as their respective voice roles as Shere Khan the tiger and Kaa the python give me goosebumps.
In Serkis’ words, “It’s not so much a child’s fairytale. There’s no singing or dancing by the animals, that’s for sure.”
I’ll attest to that. I’m kind of scared of it.
See the movie in full when it’s released on October 19, but maybe throw on the animated film for your kids while you’re gone.