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Headscratchers / The Jungle Book (2016)

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  • While it's nice to see that, in this live-action adaptation the animals speak just like humans, moving their mouth, in stark contrast with previous live-acted films and the 1998 movie where they spoke with their mind in Garfield-style, it still baffles me that some of them don't seem to be capable of speech at all. The elephants for example (they could have their own language), the civets which steal Mowgli's fruit, the buffalo, the birds (with exception of the peacock at the water hole), and even the Bandar-log. Why are those devoid of speech while other beasties can talk freely?
    • They might be able to speak. Just not in a language that Mowgli knows. Elephants are known to communicate with each other on frequencies below those a human can hear. And the others might just not speak a language he's learned yet.
    • In the book it's implied that there are at least four languages spoken in the Jungle: the language of predators (shared by wolves, tigers, bears and panthers), herbivores (spoken by elephants, buffaloes and the like), birds and snakes. Baloo pays special attention to teach Mowgli the latter three. Monkeys, meanwhile, don't have their own language and just loan words from the other languages. Maybe this is also the case in the movie?
      • King Louie called "papaya" a "stolen word", so this may be true.
      • When he says that, he means that the other animals stole it off the monkeys.
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    • If you listen closely, some of the monkeys' noises sound pretty close to human words. For example, the first one to meet Mowgli squeaks out "Hi!" Then outside of Louie's temple, a larger ape grunts "Go! In!" at Mowgli. Maybe he can't understand them well because Mowgli has been raised speaking Animal all his life, and the monkeys are trying to speak Human to him, or at least what little they know.
  • Was Shere Khan just that committed to being a petty bastard? The wolves did what he wanted and got rid of Mowgli with very little hesitation, so what does he do? Murder their leader. Ungrateful Bastard or just chewing on the Idiot Ball you decide.
    • He didn't just want Mowgli gone. He wanted him dead. And he wanted to kill Mowgli himself. So just sending the man cub out of the jungle and out of reach rather than letting him kill the boy ticked him off. So he made an example of Akela by killing him.
    • At the Water Hole it was established he kills for sport not food (which is why he is both dreaded and loathed.) Whilst he could have drawn Mowgli back simply by threatening the wolves, killing their leader would be much more fun.
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    • He was also aware that individual wolves would try to aid Mowgli as best they could whenever a chance arose (which they did in the original Novel well after he was banished). Even in the animal kingdom, divide and conquer is an effective strategy.
  • Baloo makes multiple references to winter coming. How could Mowgli understand what Baloo means, when he grew up in a jungle where they only have rainy and dry seasons, but not winter? (Also, I know it's Rule of Funny, but how did Baloo come up with that idea in the first place?)
    • In this adaptation, he is a Himalayan brown bear (a species that you wouldn't see in the jungle). Perhaps he traveled to the jungle so he'd never have to worry about the cold or hibernation. More time to enjoy the 'bare necessities' of life.
      • Actually Bagheera said he was a sloth bear, which is found in the jungle of India.
      • Baloo has a full set of upper front teeth, which means he can't be a sloth bear. Possibly Bagheera doesn't know that bears other than sloth bears exist.
    • Even if that is the case, why did Mowgli never ask "what is winter" from Baloo? He seems to buy Baloo's story despite never leaving the jungle in his life.
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    • Of course, by "winter" they might just mean the dry season, when food is more scarce than in the rainy season. Hibernating to avoid the drought is a strategy by many animals (though not bears).
  • Why did Baloo have to be so mean-spirited in convincing Mowgli to leave? "Kid, you're cool and all. But Baggerah told me the details about your predicament with a tiger. We both agree you should return to the man village for your own good." Bam done! Unlike in the animated version, Mowgli isn't as dead-set on staying in the jungle. So telling him shouldn't be such an issue.
  • How exactly did Kaa know about Mowgli's origin? Do they explain that at all?
    • Word travels quickly. It's possible that some animal witnessed Shere Khan killing Mowgli's father and spread the word around the jungle. Kaa simply managed to connect the dots, linking the offspring of the human Shere Khan killed and the "man-cub" adopted by the Seeonee wolf pack.
    • In the book, Kaa just seemed to know EVERYTHING. It's possible that this is the case here too. Additionally, there isn't anything suggesting that Kaa herself wasn't the animal that witnessed the death of Mowgli's father.
    • Or, as suggested above, the whole story was in Mowgli's mind as a repressed memory - and she read it from his mind while hypnotizing him.
  • How could Baloo defeat Kaa? Baloo was shown to be terrified of heights, and Mowgli had to climb quite a bit to reach her. And, if I'm not mistaken, he attacked her from above.
    • It didn't look that high.
    • Also, he hated climbing stone cliffs, trees might be another story.
    • Granted, but when Baloo climbed that tree in the end he did so rather clumsily and was visibly exhausted, despite the branch not being that high. It should have been hard to ignore the noise he undoubtedly must have caused, when climbing the trees to rescue Mowgli. Though Kaa might have just been too preoccupied with her prey to notice. Also, Bagheera's sarcastic comment suggests that Baloo doesn't like climbing in general.
    • It's entirely possible that Baloo just started mauling whatever part of Kaa he could reach as well. I mean, even if he was twenty feet down her body, she wouldn't have appreciated a bear attack.
  • How did Bagheera know that Shere Kahn killed Akela when he was with Mowgli the whole time? Better question, how did King Louie know??
    • In Louie's case, his monkey minions must have spied on the wolf pack and reported the incident to him. He's got ears, his ears got ears, after all.
    • Word probably did travel fast (as Shere Khan intentionally wanted to do to bring Mowgli back) that reached Bagheera when he was separated from Mowgli (kid did got one heck of a distance away from the two when they went at it).
  • How does Mowgli know how to make all those tools and gadgets, but not know how to make fire?
    • Because making fire is a fairly complex trick. Mowgli's tools and gadgets are mostly plant parts tied together, which, while ingenious, don't require as much knowledge as rubbing plant parts together persistently enough to make fire. Plus, he didn't know fire existed in the first place, so why would be so keen on making it?
    • Mowgli'd probably watched birds make nests by threading and knotting bits of creeper and grass to twigs, and built upon what he'd seen them do in his own uses of string and rope. But apart from lightning, there's nothing in nature that regularly makes fire for Mowgli to observe.
  • I may just be missing something here, but why does Shere Khan ask Akela where Mowgli is after he tried to ambush him? He's already seen the Man-Cub is far from the pack; why go there and interrogate the wolves? Is he already somewhat aware that they sent Mowgli away, or what?
    • To quote Aesop; "Any excuse will serve a Tyrant". He doesn't care whether Akela could help him or not, he just wanted an excuse to enter their den and pick a fight.
    • He went there to make clear that the wolves had not done as he wanted by turning the man-cub over to him (instead of Bagheera removing Mowgli from the pack without their consent, perhaps), and so that he could kill Akela as a means of drawing Mowgli back to him.
  • How did Mowgli escape from the fire? Shere Khan falls to his death because the dead tree Mowgli is sitting in with his rope seat trick is surrounded by a flaming jungle. In the next scene Mowgli is walking through the burnt jungle, with the fire out in that area. Did the dead tree just not burn? What about smoke inhalation?
    • Fire doesn't burn so well after all the fuel is spent. A real life survival technique is to burn your immediate surroundings with a controlled fire, and then take hunker down on the burnt section before the wildfire arrives. My guess is that the fire in Mowgli's section burnt itself out and the blaze moved on to ravage the rest of the jungle.
  • Why did Louie go after Mowgli and let his monkey mooks fight Baloo and Bagheera? The hundreds of monkeys could easily have surrounded and caught Mowgli, whereas him, a Kong-sized ape, would have had no trouble beating a bear and a panther in a fight. He made a terrible tactical choice that led to his downfall.
  • Why do people see this King Louie as an example of Adaptational Villainy? Sure, the animated version was more goofy, but he still kidnapped Mowgli and demanded the secret of fire, and he became decidedly less jovial when Mowgli couldn't do it. During his song, Bagheera even commented "Fire? So that's what that scoundrel's after!" So it had always seemed to me that the animated Louie's goofiness was merely a facade for more sinister motivations. This version of Louie is just less subtle about it.
    • The key difference (other than how their act) is the explanation they give for why they want fire. The animated Louie wants it because he is "tired of monkeying around", and seems to believe fire will, somehow, help him become a man. The live-action Louie makes it explicit that he wants to rule the jungle and "rise to the top of the food chain" with the help of fire.
  • Shere Khan's plan to kill Akela to lure Mowgli back seems to only make sense based on information he didn't have at the time. Mowgli does hear of it and come back as planned, but only because he'd been stubborn and not left the Jungle at all. As far as Khan had been told at this point, Mowgli was already in the Man Village, where he would have had no way to hear of Akela's death.
    • Maybe he hoped that the rumors will reach Mowgli eventually. After all, Mowgli understands Animal Talk, so he might overhear birds or squirrels chattering in the trees about Akela's death even when he's in the Man Village. Or maybe Shere Khan didn't think his plan through, and killed Akela primarily out of spite.
      • "Killed Akela out of spite" is in Shere Khans character all right. In his mind, getting rid of Mowgli was the wolves way to weasel out of trouble from the tiger. He's still angered that they raised Mowgli and even stood up to him to protect the mancub.
    • The scene immediately prior to Akela’s death shows that Shere Khan was lying in wait for Mowgli as he was complaining about having to go to the man-village. He could’ve reasoned based on that that Mowgli would remain in the jungle once separated from Bagheera (which he did), if he even knew how to get to the village without Bagheera’s guidance.


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