For years, The Jungle Book was known for being a light-hearted, action-packed musical adventure about a young man-cub named Mowgli. However, what the Disney version neglects to share is that The Jungle Book comes from much darker roots, than you might’ve known. In fact, the book, from author Rudyard Kipling, was published in 1894 and featured several short stories that had to do more with abandonment than whimsy, that part didn’t come until Disney took over the IP. Even the 2016 film, from Jon Favreau, featured a tale that, while it was indeed darker than the animated feature, still felt light compared to the version Andy Serkis has been trying to develop.
Today, his vision unfolds before our very eyes, with a trailer that shows a side of The Jungle Book no one has ever seen. This is Mowgli.
Blending live action and performance capture, the story follows the upbringing of the human child Mowgli (Rohan Chand) raised by a wolf pack in the jungles of India. As he learns the often-harsh rules of the jungle, under the tutelage of a bear named Baloo (Andy Serkis) and a panther named Bagheera (Christian Bale), Mowgli becomes accepted by the animals of the jungle as one of their own. All but one: the fearsome tiger Shere Khan. (Benedict Cumberbatch). But there may be greater dangers lurking in the jungle, as Mowgli comes face to face with his human origins. The other story’s central animal characters are: Kaa, the snake (Cate Blanchett); the leader of the wolf pack, Akela (Peter Mullan); the scavenging hyena, Tabaqui (Tom Hollander); Nisha, the female wolf (Naomie Harris), who adopts the baby Mowgli as one of her cubs; Nisha’s mate, Vihaan (Eddie Marsan); and Mowgli’s Brother Wolf (Jack Reynor).
I think Cate Blanchett summarizes this perfectly when she says, “I think we can both agree, Mowgli, that you are something the jungle has never seen.”. This savage, more realistic version of The Jungle Book is exactly what director Andy Serkis is trying to accomplish. For starters, one of his biggest goals was to channel the late great Kipling and create the film that closely resembles what his book was trying to convey. Plus, he had the onerous task of trying to make his film stand apart from the other Jungle Book tales. I’d say he succeeded in both ventures, as Mowgli feels like The Jungle Book is all grown up, almost like Mowgli when he stands up to Shere Kahn.
Mowgli releases October 19, 2018! Check out Andy Serkis Behind the Scenes Featurette to hear more about what he has to say about the film.