Hands up if you heard this one before:
“Where are your manners? Were you raised by animals?!”
You’d think that your parents would know fully well that you weren’t raised by animals. But in the case of Mowgli, the “man-cub” at the heart of the classic tale The Jungle Book, the answer would be yes.
Back in 1967, Disney made an animated film about an orphaned boy who was discovered by a wise black panther named Bagheera, raised in the jungle by a pack of wolves, befriended by Baloo the bear, and hunted by the man-eating Bengal tiger Shere Khan. (By the way, if 1967 seems like a long time ago, the film was based on a book of fables written by author Rudyard Kipling in the 1890s — that’s over 120 years ago.)
The original Jungle Book was a really successful movie. So what can be added to the film in 2016? Animation has come a long, long way in fifty years. The new Jungle Book is full of eye-popping CGI (computer-generated imagery) very similar to those seen in films like 2013’s Walking With Dinosaurs. This super realistic look turns characters like Shere Khan from a nearly huggable cartoon in 1967 into one mangy, battle-scarred cat today.
Everywhere else, the lush green rainforests of India (where the film is set) are stuffed full of wild animals, rivers, temples, a tricky python, and a whole bunch of monkeys ruled by King Louie, an ancient ape called Gigantopithecus (juh-gahn-toe-PUH-thuh-kus). If we’re being picky, Gigantopithecus has been extinct for over 100,000 years, but isn’t that why we love the movies?
And as for Mowgli himself, he isn’t a cartoon at all, but a real young actor named Neel Sethi. Sethi was picked from thousands of boys who auditioned from all over the world. You can see just how good a job he does in his very first film on April 15th!