ⓘ Adventures of Mowgli

                                     

ⓘ Adventures of Mowgli

Adventures of Mowgli is an animated feature-length story originally released as five animated shorts of about 20 minutes each between 1967 and 1971 in the Soviet Union. It is based on Rudyard Kiplings The Jungle Book. They were directed by Roman Davydov and made by Soyuzmultfilm studio. In 1973, the five films were combined into a single 96-minute feature film. The Russian DVD release of the restored footage, distributed by "Krupnyy Plan" and "Lizard", separates the animation into the original five parts.

An English-language version made jointly by Soyuzmultfilm Russia and Cyrillic Films U.S. was completed in 1996 and released direct-to-video on April 28, 1998 under the name Adventures of Mowgli. Charlton Heston is the narrator in the English version. Proceeds from the U.S. release were donated to The Audrey Hepburn Hollywood for Children Fund.

                                     

1. Style

This is the second film adaptation of Rudyard Kiplings work released in 1967. Even though the movie was not conceived as a reaction to the Disney adaptation, it proves an interesting contrast, being more faithful to the epic and primal content of Kiplings original work. The Soyuzmultfilms adaptation appeared more adult and in spirit is closer to Kiplings book. There are scenes of mass fights and duels, blood and death are shown, there is charged atmosphere, suspense. Subjects of life and death, debt and feelings, heroism of the soldier and human essence arise.

                                     

1.1. Style Portrayal of characters

  • Snake characters talk in a slow and hissy manner.
  • White Hood, the white cobra guarding the treasures in an old cave, has also been changed into a female named Mother Cobra. She is also much more vicious than her book counterpart.
  • All female characters are mothers except Gita, a local girl which attracts Mowgli.
  • The ruins of the Forgotten City contain Buddha look-alike statues in Lotus position.
  • Bagheera has three cubs in this film, one black and two gold. They are only mentioned in the book while Bagheeras female mate is not.
  • In this film, the kings ankus is replaced with a dagger, the Iron Tooth. This is the same departure as in Disneys later film The Jungle Book.
  • While it is uncertain as to what bear species Baloo may be in the books, here he is an Asiatic black bear
  • One of Hathis sons shows similarities to the baby elephant Junior, from the Disney adaptation.
  • Unlike most adaptations that show Tabaqui, this is loyal to the story and he is a golden jackal. In most adaptations like Jungle Book Shōnen Mowgli, and The Jungle Book: Mowglis Story, he is a hyena.
  • In this version, Bagheera is female following the Russian translation by Nina Daruzes. She is also less willing to spoil Mowgli, as she spanks him after he refuses to apologize for landing on Baloo, saying "Mind your manners!". This scene has inexplicably been deleted for the English-language version made by Films by Jove, though it appears uncut in the Cyrillic Films English-language adaptation.
  • Most instances of physical violence, brutality, and lethality are implied but not shown. The scenes of Shere Khan slaying numerous humans and animals are not portrayed, instead Bagheera is constantly accusing him of being a "Manhunter! Murderer! Baby snatcher!" and so on. Also his evil deeds are described verbally in brief by the Narrator. The scene of the Kaas hunt is ended right at the moment when Kaa is about to proceed to feast on the hypnotized Bandar-log population. Baloo is taking Mowgli away, saying that "Wed better leave now. This is something you shouldnt see." Only scenes of actual violence, which are portrayed, occur when: 1) Baloo and Bagheera are fighting the Bandar-log crowd in order to free Mowgli, 2) Mowgli, triumphant after he obtained the Iron Tooth, wields and accidentally hurts a paw of his Grey Brother wolf with the dagger, and apologizes right thereafter, 3) the Pack confronts the Red dogs, 4) the final fight.
  • Human characters like Messua and Buldeo are not present in this film.
  • Shere Khan escapes the stampede and is eventually killed by the grown-up Mowgli in a bare-handed manner similar to Samson slaying the lion. The Shere Khans death in the hands of Mowgli is implied by the next scene, which depicts Mowgli with the tigers skin.
                                     

2.1. Plot Episode 1 - "Raksha"

The story starts with a golden jackal named Tabaqui walking towards his master, the dreaded tiger known as Shere Khan, who stretches himself, and then walks to the spot of a camp with Tabaqui guiding him. Out of cruelty and hatred, Shere Khan leaps towards the campsite. Whilst doing so, he accidentally burns his right forepaw, forcing a young child, Mowgli, to wander into a wolf cave in the jungle. At that point, Shere Khan accompanied by his servant Tabaqui appears at the entrance and, unable to pass through the caves apperture with his massive body, demands that the wolves give him his prey, but the wolf mother Raksha refuses and drives him away. He taunts them and says that the wolf pack will decide as he skulks away, angered by her defiance. Meanwhile, Tabaqui runs around the whole jungle and tells all the animals that a wolf pack has adopted a human.

A moment later, Bagheera, the melanistic Indian leopard, is minding her business when Tabaqui appears to tell her the news. Bagheera scolds him for spreading malicious falsehoods, then puts up quite a display that causes Shere Khan to walk away with hatred.

The elders of the wolf pack watch a performance of the wolf cubs and Maugli, with Maugli matching the cubs every step. The elders are evenly split about whether or not they should allow him to stay until they see Maugli pinch the nose of Tabaqui, who came up to taunt him. At this point, however, Shere Khan appears and demands that he be given his prey. Akela, also known as "The Lone Wolf" and patriarch of the pack, refuses to listen, so Raksha and Baloo the white-chested bear who instructs the young wolf cubs come to his defence, but Shere Khan is undeterred until Bagheera also appears and offers the wolf pack a freshly killed bull in return for keeping Maugli alive. Shere Khan is forced to admit defeat, but vows that he will still eat Maugli one day.



                                     

2.2. Plot Episode 2 - "The Kidnapping"

Maugli and Rakshas cubs are being taught to hunt by Baloo, who also teaches them the call of the jungle: "We be of one blood, thou and I". Then Bagheera appears and teaches Maugli to climb and jump between trees. The Bandar-logs in the trees watch Maugli perform and decide that hes just like them but without a tail. A short while later, they kidnap him while hes sleeping and take him to their city. Baloo and Bagheera run after him but decide that they need the help of the Indian rock python Kaa. They dont know where to look until Chil the brahminy kite, flying above them, tells them that he saw him being taken to the abandoned city; Maugli had used the call of the jungle as he was being carried away and asked him to help. Baloo and Bagheera arrive first and are both overwhelmed by the monkeys. Once Kaa arrives, the monkeys go still and sit quietly on the city ruins around him. Kaa begins a hypnotizing dance, and every so often tells the monkeys to come one step closer. Bagheera and Baloo are nearly caught in the trap as well until they are pulled away by Maugli, after which they leave the scene.