On April 26, the Licensing Biz reports that “Disney’s The Jungle Book continues reign over UK and global box office.” Also on April 26, Encore describes this movie as “A Jungle of Wonder.” This movie is a wonder of special effects (on par with “The Life of Pi”), a wonder of a child’s view of the natural world, and a wonder of skillful storytelling, which is based on the demonstrated staying power of Rudyard Kipling’s classic Jungle Book. This movie that underscores the value of a child and of a child’s perspective has outperformed other movies with top talent all over the world.
Rudyard Kipling, a child and man of conflict, was born of lively Alice and artistic John Kipling, Principal and Professor of Architectural Sculpture at Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art in Bombay during British colonialism. Kipling’s parents considered themselves Anglo-Indians. Rudyard did the same, although he spent much of his life elsewhere. His writing reflected complex issues of identity and allegiance. In Something of Myself, Kipling wrote, “In the afternoon heats before we took our sleep, she (the Portuguese ayah, or nanny) or Meeta (the Hindu bearer, or male attendant) would tell us stories and Indian nursery songs all unforgotten, and we were sent into the dining-room after we had been dressed, with the caution ‘Speak English now to Papa and Mamma.’ So one spoke ‘English’, haltingly translated out of the vernacular idiom that one thought and dreamed in.”
As was customary at the time, Rudyard was taken back to England at age five with his younger sister to a boarding house for English nationals. He was brutally treated and escaped secretly into the world of literature. As a young man he returned to India where he became a part of both the British and Indian communities. He also came to love the United States where he happily settled with his wife Carrie and their children. He enjoyed children and writing for them. During this time, he wrote “Jungle Book.” (He was later deeply distressed by the loss of his first daughter, Josephine, to pneumonia, and returned to live in the UK.)
Rudyard Kipling’s many personal conflicts have certainly influenced his writing. In “Jungle Book,” Mowgli enjoys the wonders of the natural world. He also encounters conflicts there but develops courage. It is interesting that some of the top movies today (“The Jungle Book,” “Miracles From Heaven,” and “The Young Messiah”) have stories about children and through these stories with the outstanding child actors we all can learn how in trials we can develop perseverance, endurance and hope. It is often through the best stories for children and families that we see profound universal truth.
It is when we become as a little child with uncluttered minds that we can access fundamental eternal truth.
Box Office Mojo reports on April 25 its latest statistics and information that again demonstrates the attraction and staying power of good family and redemptive movies. “Jungle Book” remains number one at the box office. “Zootopia” also remains strong at the top of the box office. “Miracles From Heaven” and “God’s Not’s Dead 2” continue in theaters doing well. According to Fandango, top picks “Risen” and “Young Messiah” are still in theaters. This Friday the IMAX documentary, “A Beautiful Planet” comes out in theaters. These are all top picks for family and redemptive movies in theaters this week.