Episode 1: "Raksha"
Shere Khan (Scott McNeil) attacks an Indian village, causing toddler Mowgli to wander into a wolf den, where he is adopted by Raksha, a mother wolf who has just had cubs. The black leopard, Bagheera and Baloo (Cam Lane) defend Mowgli against Shere Khan, who vows revenge.
Episode 2: "The Kidnapping"
Now a young boy, Mowgli (Cathy Weseluck) leans how to move about the jungle as the animals do and how to show respect ("We are of one blood, you and I.") His cleverness and opposable thumbs make him popular among the animals, particularly the Bandar-Log, a pack of irritating monkeys, who kidnap him to make him their king.
Episode 3: "Akela's Last Hunt"
The great python Kaa (Sam Elliot) helps grown Mowgli (Ian James Corlett) prepare for the inevitable fight against Shere Kan by showing him the treasures of the abandoned city, particularly the "iron tooth," a bejewelled dagger. Shere Khan plots to topple pack leader, Akela (David Kaye), and Mowgli uses his new power (and fire) to help his adopted wolf father.
Episode 4: "The Fight"
A giant pack of wild dogs with Australian accents threaten the animals of the jungle. Akela prepares the pack to fight to the death. Mowgli and his friends help defeat them by enlisting an angry mob of bees. Mowgli becomes leader of the pack. (This one's kind of scary and sad.)
Episode 5: "Return to Mankind"
Drought threatens the jungle. Shere Khan and Mowgli finally face off and Bagheera realizes its time for Mowgli to join his people. Sniff.
Adventures of Mowgli (1973)
Maugli (a.k.a. Adventures of Mowgli) is a Soviet animated classic produced by the creative geniuses at the Soyuzmultfilm studio. The films were originally released between 1967 and 1971 as five, 20-minute shorts that were later combined into one full-length feature in 1973. The somewhat controversial distributor, Films by Jove, made a straight-to-video English version in 1996, with Charlton Heston as the narrator and Dana Delany as Bagheera (an excellent choice).
Each episode follows the progression of Rudyard Kipling's original stories about Mowgli and his life among the animals in The Jungle Book. Bagheera is transformed by Russian grammar (I think) into a female, which totally works for me, even though it's the biggest departure from the book. As a work of animation, Maugli's level of place detail and observation of animal movement and behavior are astonishing, yet it maintains a hearty appeal for younger kids, with its occasionally goofy characters and catchy tunes.
As a feature film, Adventures of Mowgli is an engaging and moving coming-of-age tale; one that conveys the harsher lessons of animal life and man's capacity to screw things up, while illustrating the beauty of companionship, respect, and brotherhood.
In other words: superior in every way to its Disney contemporary.
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