"Now this is the Law of the Jungle — as old and as true as the sky; And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die. As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back — For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack."
A collection of stories published in 1894 by Rudyard Kipling, primarily about a Wild Child named Mowgli, and followed by a sequel, The Second Jungle Book, in 1895. The stories detail Mowgli's childhood and youth, of his upbringing with the wolf-pack and his battles with the great lame tiger Shere Khan, of his friendships with Bagheera the panther, Baloo the bear, and Kaa the python, of his abduction by the Bandar-Log of the Cold Lairs, and his great war against the Dhole, of his meeting with the White Cobra and his vendetta against his old people. Not all of the stories concerned Mowgli; the most well known exceptions being "Rikki Tikki Tavi" and "Toomai of the Elephants" in the first, and "The Miracle of Purun Bhagat" and "The Undertakers" in the second.In 1900, Kipling wrote a stage adaptation of the Mowgli stories which he never published or produced. It was finally discovered among his papers and published in 2000 as The Jungle Play.The original work has long fallen out of copyright note In Kipling's native UK, the copyright originally expired in 1986, 50 years after his death, but then copyright was extended to 70 years so his works went back into copyright until 2006. Which isn't that long really. and Mowgli and friends are now Public Domain Characters.The Jungle Books were instant hits and remain popular today, more than a century after they were conceived by Kipling. There are endless debates about the quality of Kipling's prose and poetry, his politics and racial views, but the books are still considered classics.Zoltan Korda turned The Jungle Book into a live-action movie using real animals in 1942, giving the part of Mowgli to Sabu, the star of The Thief of Bagdad.Disney found The Jungle Book, and loved at least some of its ideas, so they chose it for one of theirAnimated Adaptations. The result was and is widely considered a great Disney film, the best and perhaps most original animated Disney film of the 1960s. That said, this adaptation of The Jungle Book was one of the greatest cases of Adaptation Displacement in history, so great a case that Disney felt free to use some of Mowgli's friends and foes and rivals far, far away from the books and jungles where they were conceived, and so it considers them its own. This is the probable reason why Kipling doesn't receive a credit on TaleSpin, an Animated Series that puts three of the main characters from The Jungle Book (or Disney's version, at least) into an Alternate Continuity. A second series was created using the Disney interpretations Jungle Cubsreinventing the childhood lives of the animal residents into comical stories. See Disney: The Jungle Book.On the other hand, the great animation genius, Chuck Jones, produced three animated TV specials in the 1970s, Mowgli's Brothers, Rikki Tikki Tavi and The White Seal that were much more faithful to the original stories.There is also a Soviet animated series that is extremely faithful to the stories and to the general mood and style. No human-like mimics in animals here. However, some of the animal characters changed their gender — most notably, Bagheera is female (since the word "panther" is always feminine in Russian) in this adaptation.An anime series based on the books was also created. Jungle Book: Shonen Mowgli, though somewhat more faithful to the original novels than the Disney adaption, takes a similar more whimsical atmosphere, as well as expanding the cast and plot line to fit its over fifty episode long run. The anime aired during the late eighties and early nineties, amusingly around the same time Disney recycled some of their concepts adapted from the books for the Disney Afternoon series TaleSpin.There was a live-action 1994 film based on the Jungle Book, called Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. It was directed by Stephen Sommers. While taking elements from the original books and the 1967 animated film, it had a very different storyline. It mostly focused on Mowgli's (Jason Scott Lee) life after leaving the jungle: having to become accustomed to life in British-colonial India and attempting to woo upper-class love interest Katherine Anne "Kitty" Brydon (Lena Headey). This film was a modest box office hit, earning $43,229,904 in the United States market. It was the 31st most successful film of its year. The critics rather liked it, though some complained that it wasn't family friendly.An unrelated film called The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli & Baloo (1997) was released, possibly to cash in on the popularity of the above. It featured a still pre-teen Mowgli (Jamie Williams) pursued by the recruiting agents of a circus. The film performed poorly in theaters, but proved a hit in the video market. Which explains why there was yet another live action film, Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story (1998), a straight to video production. It featured Brandon Baker as Mowgli and various voice actors speaking for the animal characters. Despite featuring well-known actors such as Clancy Brown and Nancy Cartwright, it seems to be the most obscure of the three (though ironically the nearest Disney got to a faithful rendition of the novel).More recently (2010), there has been an Indian-made CGI TV series comprising 15-minute episodes, very loosely based on the stories and aimed at younger viewers.There have also been several comic book adaptations, including an issue of Classics Illustrated (1951), three issues of Dell Four-Color (1953-5), a serialisation in Marvel Fanfare (1980s), and three Second Jungle Book stories adapted by P. Craig Russell (1985-96).
The Mowgli stories provide examples of:
The Ace: Bagheera, and to an extent Mowgli himself.
Arch-Enemy: Shere Khan. He's been trying to kill Mowgli since he was a baby. Eventually the feeling is mutual and Mowgli vows to kill Shere Khan.
Artifact of Attraction: The eponymous object in "The King's Ankus", a jewel-studded ivory artifact that Mowgli finds in a lost treasure chamber and then carelessly discards. He soon discovers that the Ankus causes men to kill each other for greed, and wonders why he alone is immune.
Now Chil the Kite brings home the night, that Mang the bat sets free The herds are shut in byre and hut, for loosed til dawn are we Now is the hour of power and pride. Talon and tush and claw. Come hear the call, good hunting all, that keep the Jungle Law.
Big Brother Mentor: Bagheera and Baloo, especially the former. Occasionally, Kaa and Brother Wolf.
Bittersweet Ending: In the first book, Mowgli kills Shere Khan, but after refusing to hand over his hide to a hunter, the latter convinces the village that Mowgli is a shape-shifting sorcerer, leading to the village driving Mowgli out. Mowgli is offered to rejoin to wolf pack, but refuses as they had forced him out before and decides to hunt alone, joined only by his four wolf "brothers", but it ends with a mention of him eventually getting married.
In the second book seventeen-year-old Mowgli becomes restless for reasons he does not understand. Later he rediscovers his adopted mother Messua, now widowed and raising her infant son alone. After much soul-searching Mowgli decides he can no longer live with his animal friends and they watch sadly as he returns to Messua and human society.
Butt Monkey: Tabaqui in many depictions tends to see his friendship with Shere Khan as something of "street cred". Since Shere Khan himself is often the butt of jokes from other animals (including his own mother), it's needless to say it doesn't quite work that way. It's also implied that he's rabid, since the book is careful to mention how prone jackals are to catching that disease.
Casual Danger Dialog: When the villagers are turning against Mowgli, it's the wolf Akela who first recognises how much trouble Mowgli is in.
The old Tower musket went off with a bang, and a young buffalo bellowed in pain. "More sorcery!" shouted the villagers. "He can turn bullets. Buldeo, that was thy buffalo." "Now what is this?" said Mowgli, bewildered, as the stones flew thicker. "They are not unlike the Pack, these brothers of thine," said Akela, sitting down composedly. "It is in my head that, if bullets mean anything, they would cast thee out."
Cats Are Mean: Zigzagged. Shere Khan the man-eating tiger is the main villain, but Bagheera the black panther is a wise and trustworthy friend.
One of the things Disney's adaptations conveniently left out is the fact that Bagheera is one of the most feared (and respected) creatures in the entire jungle.
The giant rock python Kaa (who is first an ally and later a friend of Mowgli's) is feared by many, but absolutely terrifies the monkeys. When they outnumber their enemies a hundred to one, they'll fight Baloo or Bagheera, but they will not fight Kaa - at any odds.
Eloquent In My Native Tongue: In the prototype Mowgli story, "In the Rukh", when the German Muller is speaking English, his accent is rendered atrociously, but when he's speaking to Mowgli (presumably in Hindi) it's translated in the same archaic and poetic English Kipling uses to render most non-English languages.
Exact Eavesdropping: Mowgli overhears that his adoptive human parents are to be executed, and immediately sets about saving them.
Fantastic Caste System: Each species acts a little like an Indian caste and has parts of the law of the Jungle designed specifically for it.
Later subverted when Mowgli lives with the humans and helps out the potter, as he didn't know the potter was an untouchable.
Full-Frontal Assault: Just about any time Mowgli attacks, since he generally doesn't wear clothes at all.
Growing Up Sucks: A recurring theme notable at several points: when Mowgli is first kicked out of the pack at the end of the first story; when he divorces himself from the pack and the villagers at the climax of "Tiger! Tiger!"; and when he must leave the jungle behind at the end of the second volume.
Held Gaze: The Jungle Book references the direct gaze that when an animal views it that in Real Life it signals a threat to the animal; and it comes into play during the wolf-pack meeting at the beginning when Mowgli is allowed into the pack. His ingenuous, even gaze is unsettling to the animals gathered when he looks at them, meeting their gaze for only a few seconds, as most look away quickly except for ones like Bagheera, who knows something of the ways of men. And by the time Mowgli's grown up even Bagheera has to look away.
Humans Are the Real Monsters: Not really avoided, but it's clear that the animals would rather just ignore humans. Mowgli himself, however, comes to feel this way about the villagers who take him in and then drive him out again, except for Messua, the woman who adopted him and the only one to oppose his expulsion.
Hypnotic Eyes: From the reaction of the beasts, Mowgli seems to have a mild version. The trope is played full-force with Kaa.
The Igor: Tabaqui, the jackal who kisses up to Shere Khan.
The Imp: Again Tabaqui, being a cowardly little jackal amist a bunch of Earth's most formidable predators, his activities consist largely of teasing the wolves and spreading word of Shere Khan's wrath.
In "Kaa's Hunting", Mowgli is able to show the monkeys his skill at weaving sticks together because he is a woodcutter's son.
In "Red Dog", Mowgli cuts off the leading red dog's tail and then taunts him by telling him "There will now be many litters of little tailless red dogs, yea, with raw red stumps that sting when the sand is hot." (Since a wolf ends up killing him anyway this theory is never put to the test.)
Mass Hypnosis: Kaa does this to the Bandar-log (and Baloo and Bagheera, who were watching).
Meaningful Name: In the story "Mowgli" (a name Kipling made up) means "frog", which refers both to his hairless skin and to his "amphibious" life between the worlds of the Jungle and that of Man.
Mighty Whitey: Subverted, Mowgli is Indian (though it's implied that he acts "whiter" than other Indians).
Subverted in one line from 'Letting in the Jungle'. "He knew that when the Jungle moves only white men can hope to turn it aside."
The first story he appears in, "In the Rukh", takes place after the books, and Mowgli impresses his white, British boss, Gisborne. Then the boss's German boss, Muller, with a thick Funetik Aksent pays a visit, recognizes what Mowgli is, and tells Gisborne to give him free rein.
Naked on Arrival: Mowgli first appears as a naked baby, and goes on to spend most of his childhood and adolescence naked too.
No Name Given: Messua's husband, Mowgli's adoptive father, is never given a name, despite being the richest man in the village. (This likely reflects the fact that he and Mowgli, the point-of-view character, never really connect.) By contrast, Kipling gives names to a couple of minor characters who are never seen again.
While an Informed Attribute for the most part, Tabaqui, often an irritating coward that serves as a bigger laughing stock of the Jungle than Shere Khan, is noted for his occasion bouts of insanity (suggested to be formed from rabies), biting and attacking anything in his path, during which point the wolves and Shere Khan himself are fearful of him.
Shere Khan himself, though considered an egotistical fool by many, he's still a great hulking tiger whose a known man-eater responsible for the deaths of many people to the point he was known amongst the people of India and the government even offered a reward for whoever killed him. The animals also did not in any way consider him harmless either, as even Bagheera had to repeatedly remind Mowgli that Khan was a very dangerous enemy.
Old Master: Kaa, who is the oldest creature in the jungle — his sheer size only makes sense when you realise this.
Shere Khan, despite being regarded by the rest of the jungle as a bullying coward
Bagheera, who can saunter into a wolf pack during one of their meetings and have their immediate and respectful attention
Papa Wolf: It's generally Akela, rather than Mowgli's actual wolf dad.
Physical Scars, Psychological Scars: Hathi the elephant has a large white scar from the time he fell into a spiked pit trap and felt humiliated enough that when he escaped he razed three villages.
Prequel and Sequel: Kipling had first created Mowgli for the short story "In the Rukh", which was republished in 1893 in the collection Many Inventions. In that story Mowgli meets a British forestry official, marries and has a child.
Worthless Yellow Rocks: In "The King's Ankus," Mowgli can't see why the ancient treasure trove is worth guarding. He later sees why it needs a guardian — not for its innate value, but for the way other humans will murder each other for it.
Artistic License - Biology: The cobras in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi are implied to be King Cobras, but they are described as looking like Indian Cobras. (Five foot long adult size, a white marking on the hood, etc.)
Badass: Almost every main character. Also the cobras in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.
Big Damn Heroes: Rikki arriving to stop Nagina from threatening the humans at the dinner table.
Cue the Flying Pigs: At the beginning of "Toomai of the Elephants", the title character is told by Petersen Sahib that he may one day go into all elephant stockades "when thou hast seen the elephants dance"; although there is evidence that such events occur, no human has yet witnessed it, thus the statement equates to "never". Sure enough, though, by the end of the story, Little Toomai has seen the dance of the elephants.
Exact Eavesdropping: Rikki-Tikki-Tavi the mongoose overhears the two cobras' entire plan to rid the bungalow of humans. Granted, he was warned to go listen in by another animal, but that seems a bit too convenient, no?
Friend to All Living Things: In "The Miracle of Purun Bhagat", the title character renounces his worldly goods and becomes a holy man, befriending all of the animals that live in the hills near his shrine.
In "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", Teddy's father isn't named, although Teddy's mother's name is Alice, as given in dialogue.
In the Inuit story "Quiquern", there's a girl from a tribe whose womenfolk are rescued after their men die on a hunt. Despite accompanying the hero Kotuko on a dangerous mission, and eventually marrying him, she's only ever called "the girl".
Sliding Scale of Villain Threat: Averted in "Rikki-Tikki Tavi," considering Rikki's first battle was against Karait, the Dust Brown Snakeling, a small highly venomous snake whom the story notes is a deadlier threat than the cobrae.
Something Completely Different: Each anthology has a story that has nothing whatsoever to do with the jungle or India: in the first, it's The White Seal, set in the northern oceans; in the second, it's Quiquern, which is about huskies and Inuits.
Unholy Matrimony: The two cobras in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi are mates who wish to assassinate all the humans in the house so that their children will have room to grow.
What Measure Is a Non-Human?: In the stories, all animals have sapient intelligence like humans. But humans are still treated as objectively worth more than non-human animals. Especially in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi (A mongoose goes to kill two cobras who want to kill the humans in a bungalow so that they can raise their children.) Probably justified in this case, since the cobras would also be a potential threat to Rikki Tikki as well. Plus, the humans had saved the mongoose's life and so they deserved his protection for that matter at least.
Adaptation Distillation: The Jungle Play is mostly based on four stories, "Mowgli's Brothers", "Tiger! Tiger!", "Letting in the Jungle", and "The Spring Running". He also created a new character, Dulia, a girl from the village, as Mowgli's love interest, and actually weaves her into the plot nicely (for instance it is she who brings news of what the villagers are doing to Mowgli's adoptive human mother to Council Rock).
Bowdlerise: On top of how animated depictions usually skip over or tone down the family unfriendly parts, this is somewhat AVERTED, in the most ironic of instances, in at least one young children rewrite of the story released in the U.S, which not only leaves in the creepy mass hallucinate and feast scene with Kaa eating a ton of simians completely intact, but even includes a lovingly drawn scene of Mowgli and the wolves killing Shere Khan.
The Film of the Book: Not just the Disney version or the 1994 version, but there was one done in 1942 with Sabu as Mowgli. It is much closer to the original story than the Disney version obviously.
1967 saw 'two' animated adaptations released the well known Disney one, and a lesser known (over here), but rather more faithful series ('67-'71) in Russia.
Hero Killer: Shere Khan will sometimes kill a major character close to Mowgli to make their feud even more personal.
She's a Man in Japan: Bagheera is female in the Russian translation, mostly because the Russian word for "panther" is grammatically feminine.
Same in Spanish; the word "pantera" is grammatically feminine and thus Bagheera is refered to as a "she".
Bagheera has a female voice in Disney's Mowgli's Story as well.
Spared by the Adaptation: Most famously Shere Khan in the Disney animated film (he survives in the later live action variant too).
Tabaqui's death at the hands (sic) of Brother Wolf is also absent in the Russian adaptation, and is shown having a conversation with Shere Khan prior to his own death (granted whether Tabaqui survives the stampede just after is left ambiguous).
In the 1955 Dell Comics adaptation of "The King's Ankus",note the second story in Dell Four-Color #620, Rudyard Kipling's Mowgli: Jungle Book some of the men who steal the ankus survive and Mowgli has to steal it back from them.