In Disney’s live-action remake of THE JUNGLE BOOK, Mowgli (played by Neel Sethi) has to gain his freedom from the Law of the Jungle so that he can finally become the leader of the Wolf Pack. Join us as we discuss these Christian themes and so much more on this episode of the Finding Christ In Cinema podcast.
For your convenience you will find each podcast segment at the time referenced below:
- 00:00:00 – Introduction and Previous Episode Recap
- 00:03:24 – Movie Discussion
- 00:15:46 – Christian Themes in THE JUNGLE BOOK (2016)
- 00:45:40 – Listener Challenge and Feedback
- 00:48:43 – Well-mannered Frivolity
- 00:51:33 – Upcoming
Freedom from the Law of the Jungle
Mowgli is a man-cub living with wolves. Found as an infant by Bagheera the Panther, he has been brought to Akela the Wolf. This Pack and several other animal families adhere to the Law of the Jungle:
This is the Law of the Jungle
as old and as true as the sky;
The Wolf that keeps it may prosper,
but the Wolf that breaks it will die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree trunk,
the Law runneth over and back;
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf,
and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.
Akela’s interpretation of this Law means that the creative and inventive Mowgli cannot use his “tricks,” like using a turtle shell on a rope to gather water for himself. “It’s not the Wolf Way,” Akela admonishes.
When Shere Khan the Tiger hears of a man-cub living with the Wolves, he threatens to eviscerate the entire Pack if the man-cub isn’t killed. Mowgli leaves the Pack for fear of Shere Khan making good on his threat. In this, Mowgli dies to the Law of the Jungle.
On his journey, Mowgli learns that his “tricks” are actually gifts that he can use to help others. He helps Baloo get his honey, and then he saves a baby elephant from a pit. Mowgli ultimately uses his tricks to defeat Shere Khan and save his family’s life.
Jesus brings his followers to a similar crossroads: either continue to bind yourself and others to the letter of the Law or let Jesus free you from it so that you can freely perform its unwritten commandments: love God and love your neighbor as yourself.
The Strength of the Church Body is Its Members
As good as Mowgli is with his tricks, however, he is not good enough by himself. In the climactic battle, it takes the entire animal kingdom to fight Shere Khan while Mowgli prepares his finishing blow.
Even after Mowgli first leaves the Pack, his Wolf-mother Raksha laments his absence. She had raised him, and she didn’t want him to leave, but Akela felt his departure was best for the Pack.
Maybe that was Akela’s own transgression against the Law of the Jungle: he didn’t stick with his family, and he suffered for it when Shere Khan threw him off a cliff. Maybe that’s too legalistic of an interpretation of the Law (something of which Christians and the Church have never been guilty).
Either way, Mowgli’s excommunication was painful, and he was sorely missed. But when he came back, everyone stood by him in his fight against his enemy. It’s a perfect illustration of how the Church is supposed to act.
Key Texts for The Jungle Book
Let these passages be your guide as you watch THE JUNGLE BOOK with friends and loved ones.
Romans 7:6 ESV
But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
Romans 12:5 CEB
In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other.
Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes – including links to articles discussed – by clicking here.
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