The live action version of Disney’s Jungle Book reignites our Throughline Thursdays feature here on Narrative First. Visually stunning and cleverly cast, this Jon Favreau take on a classic beloved by animators tells an effective and complete story.
Main Character Mowgli (Neil Sethi) is the only human in the jungle. Full of tricks and ingenuity that separate him from the others more than his preference for walking on his hind-legs, the young man-cub offers the Audience a chance to experience intimately his problematic Situation.
Influence Character Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) provides the alternative perspective needed to influence Mowgli’s personal growth. Filling in for Mowgli’s father Akela (Giancarlo Esposito) after his untimely demise, Bagheera pushes forward the wolfpack agenda of assimilation. This problematic Fixed Attitude challenges Mowgli to find himself.
The Relationship Throughline that develops between them runs somewhere along the border of father/son and mentor/mentee. Their problematic Manners of Thinking both pull them into their relationship, while simultaneously pushing them apart. One must eventually convince or coerce the other to his way of thinking. And eventually Mowgli does.
Bagheera’s eventual embracing of Mowgli’s ingenuity is the type of thinking the jungle needs if it is to survive the violent antics of Shere Khan (Idris Elba). His attacks on animals of all shapes and sizes in response to the attack he endured years ago, speak of problematic Activities within the Overall Story Throughline.
Jungle Book feels like a complete narrative because it addresses all four of these Throughlines. By providing an insight as to what the conflict looks like from all angles, the Audience doesn’t feel like anything is missing.