A couple of weeks ago, I wrote the first of this series on writers who I consider influential (to me at least). While Frank Yerby was personally influential when I reached my teens, it was the Kipling stories that my parents and grandmother read to me that most likely helped to spark my lifelong love of the written word. The Jungle Book and especially Riki Tiki Tavi. I think the only reason I would have liked to maybe be a father is to have the opportunity to read the Just So Stories aloud to my children.

Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

I don’t think I wanted to be Mowgli but I think most all children have a point where they wonder what it would be like to live with wolves and be friends with the bear and the black panther.

The Jungle Book has been made into a movie multiple times. There are at least two live-action versions with one from 1942 starring Sabu as Mowgli and a version from 1994 with Jason Scott Lee as Mowgli. I’d guess the Disney animated version from 1967 is the version that most people are aware of and think of when they see The Jungle Book as a movie. Check out that cast in the Disney version!

I periodically go back and re-read some of the Kipling stories and books. Even his poetry has been made into movies. Yes, the movie Gunga Din is first based on a Kipling poem of the same name. The movie is a fun action/adventure starring Cary Grant, Victor McLaughlin, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr though it suffers from the same major problem as many other movies in that it uses a white man to play the major character of Gunga Din (Sam Jaffe).

The Man Who Would Be King was a novella that got made into a movie in 1975 starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine.

Kim is another Kipling novel that was made into a Hollywood movie, this time starring Errol Flynn.

If you are looking for a movie, most of the Kipling based films can help to while away an afternoon but it is the writing that most draws me into the story.

I know to some people, Kipling represents the worst of Western excesses and colonialism; the condescension that the Empire knew best how to rule other races and civilizations. I’m not going to argue the point. But to me, Kipling represented the introduction to other cultures, for good or ill.

And because I can:

Photo from Nick O’Doherty licensed under Creative Commons