Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction – Edward Wilson
The Jungle Book was one of the animated films of Disney that I failed to see when I was a boy. I wasn’t really interested to see it. Probably because I feared the jungle. It felt like the trees, the beasts, the ground will devour me whole. Apparently, the 2016 movie says so.
The way I see the movie, it talks about the relationship of man and other species. It tells a story of an orphaned boy named Mowgli who lived in a jungle and was taken cared by a pack of wolves. Together with his animal guardians the boy embarks on a journey towards self-discovery. This adventure film takes us to the wild and let’s us experience the realm of the animal kingdom.
While watching the film, it occurred to me that why does it seem that we humans feel like we are always dominant? Why do we feel that we are the most intelligent? The most powerful? When in fact nature is more intelligent and powerful than us.
Then comes the biggest question: Are the laws of man superior to that of the laws of nature?
In the movie Baloo the Grizzly bear was alarmed when the boy Mowgli intended to return to the human village, he said: Shere Khan’s (the antagonist of the movie) hunting him? Oh. But if you send him back to the man village they’ll ruin him. They’ll make a man out of him. We should send him back to the wolf pack! So, I wondered if we are better being human or are we better by being one with nature? Presently, this society imposes so much to us that the present generation Y has literally became generation why. Why have we become like this? We have become greedy, narcissistic and apathetic. We have lost our identity. Whereas the rules of the wolf are simple: love your pack and they love you back.
Rob Zombie’s More Human Than Human suddenly popped in my mind. The more we become human the more we become monsters?
The animals in the film also respect a truce which is agreed upon whenever dry season comes. Everyone can gather to drink in a communal spring without being threatened by predators. In our present society it’s a “save my own ass” mentality all year round.
Shere Khan the villain, however, is driven by his desire to protect the integrity of the animal kingdom. For him, man is the sole enemy. He is traumatized by being attacked by Mowgli’s father and left him with a scarred face. He said: Does my face not remind you of what grown man can do? He is compelled to fight in order to prevent other animals from suffering the same fate. On the other hand, its unfortunate that the likes of a Shere Khan is rare, here, in the real world. If so, prestige hunters would be very wary. In 2015 a famous lion named Cecil of Zimbabwe was killed by an American hunter named Walter Palmer. The whole world mourned as Hwange National Park’s “rockstar lion” was shot, skinned and decapitated.
But some hunters got what they deserved. In 2014 a video circulated showing a man who shot a deer but miraculously springs back to life. The lesson: never underestimate the power of nature. Watch the video here:
One thing that I found very symbolic about the movie is the red flower (fire). The red flower is considered by the animals as the biggest threat mankind has discovered. It’s a supremely destructive force that can wipe out every species. It seems that the red flower refers to desire for power. If the red flower will not be handled responsibly it could spread chaos or even worse as to exterminate the community. As exemplified, Mowgli impulsively gets a torch from the human village in order to get his revenge from Shere Khan. Consequently, he accidentally sets the jungle on fire. When Shere Khan corners Mowgli on top of a tree and everything was being burned to the ground, Khan was so consumed by his greed that he foolishly attacked Mowgli which ultimately led to his own demise. He tumbled to the fire. He fell to his own corrupted desires.
One of the magical aspects of the movie is the scene where the snake named Kaa seduced Mowgli. The snake spirit, in many cultures, is strongly connected to primal energy or the expression of our higher self. It is a very powerful totem that represents the source of life. In native american zodiac, the snake sign is where most shamans are born.
In the movie, Kaa stalked Mowgli and hypnotizes him in a dream state. In some cultures, if a snake appears on a dream it signifies a warning about inner struggles. It could mean that the person is ignoring things that are supposed to be important and that he should pay attention to it. If the snake in the dream is after the person, it could be that he’s been shying away from his problems. As the movie illustrates, Mowgli, lost between being human and animal, was challenged by Kaa to face his fears.
The poet Jim Morrison coined the term “ride the snake” which roughly means: pulling through a psychedelic drug experience by help from friends. Morrison sees the snake in his visions as a harbinger. Kaa actually revealed Mowgli’s past and thus providing him knowledge to go through his journey.
I find The Jungle Book very very cute. But my fear in the jungle has yet to dissipate. I guess the best protection for us is to respect the law of nature. In the end, death would always find me. So its a matter of choice whether I purposefully die in the mouth of a predator or should I foolishly jump in the fire of desire.