THE BOOK AND THE FILM
“Oh, coo ca choo, I wanna be like you-hoo-hoo,” said the film to the book, once Uncle Walt had decided that Mr. Kipling had, indeed, produced an exceedingly good tale.
Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book contained related short stories and I first read them by torchlight under the bedclothes when I was ten years old. Although they seemed to be child-like tales of talking animals I recognised even then the poignancy of their over-all theme of an abandoned baby being adopted by a wolf pack and felt proud to be reading a book written for grown ups.
By the time Walt Disney adapted the book to a film, allowing his illustrators to draw the animals in a light far removed from the nature red in tooth and claw to be found in Kipling’s work, I was a man in my twenties.
The film showed a jungle paradise of sunshine and friendship and cuddly animals where the head of the monkey clan saw himself as the king of the swingers, a jungle VIP.
The book made me cry, and still does in the passage where Mowgli, the abandoned child has to decide whether or not to return to human kind.
The film made me smile, laugh out loud, tap my toes and sing my head off.
We live now in an era where Kipling is viewed as a suspected racist and even cartoon films carry a kind of violent pornography but the Jungle Book, in whatever format makes me yearn for simpler times.
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© Norman Warwick