When writer Irene Mecchi joined the production of The Lion King (originally titled King of the Jungle until someone realised that lions don't live in the jungle), she was told that the story pitch was "Bambi in Africa meets Hamlet". She later termed it "Bamlet".
Disney themselves were keen to stress that the film was more inspired by Bill's play, rather than a direct adaptation of it. This is their way of saying that the film has roughly the same plot, but they’ve changed enough of it so that they wouldn’t have to credit the Bard and thus avoid alienating everyone who instinctively associates Shakespeare with school work. Even with all the changes that have been made, this is still recognisably the Danish play, or at least the bare bones of it: a king, the majestically majestic Mufasa, is murdered by his jealous brother, the delightfully sardonic Scar, who then drives his nephew, the slightly annoying Simba, into exile and assumes the throne. Well, there isn't really a throne, these are lions after all, more a pointed rock with a great view that is ideal for standing on and looking all majestic. Anyway, years later, Simba now a dead ringer for Sam Winchester with the voice of Ferris Bueller) is living happily in exile with
I can’t think of a single thing not to love about The Lion King. It has it all: great story, likeable characters, memorable songs, and as a work of animation alone it is simply spectacular. That opening scene, where the various animals gather at Pride Rock for Simba’s presentation, is simply breath-taking, probably the greatest work of animation in film history. It is so good that Disney used it to promote the film rather than a traditional trailer. Watching the film again only highlights how much of a tragedy it is that traditional hand drawn animation has now been almost completely abandoned in favour of computer animation. I mean just look at these stunning screencaps:
Not to say that there is anything wrong with computer animation. Without it we wouldn't have the only scene in the film that rivals the opening - the wildebeest stampede, which I still haven’t fully recovered from. I doubt I ever will. It is just too painful. Even though I know how it will end, I'm always on the edge of my seat, clutching a pillow every time I watch that scene, preparing myself for the inevitable emotional breakdown that will take place when it comes to its devastating end.
|Be prepared...to be seriously traumatized.|
While the film's songs were written by Tim Rice and Elton John (and I am not ashamed to admit that I can probably recite them all), the score was composed by Hans Zimmer rather than Alan Menken, who was busy with other projects at the time. I’m a massive fan of Zimmer’s work (I’ve listen to the Man of Steel score more times than is mentally healthy) and his score for this film is one of my favourites. I always get goosebumps when Simba starts to climb Pride Rock and the music goes into overdrive.
Notes and Quotes
--Irons blew his voice while recording ‘Be Prepared’ and the rest of the song was sung by Jim Cummings (who also voiced Ed).
--First Disney film to make reference to the Nuremberg Rallies:
|Guys, call me crazy, but I think Scar might be up to no good|
--Until Frozen came along, The Lion King was the most successful animated movie of all time at the box office.
--Pumbaa is the first character in a Disney film to fart.
--What exactly did Scar do to cause such devastation to the Pride Lands?
--Disney have never released Zimmer’s full score so obsessive soundtrack collectors like me have had to rely on bootleg recordings.
Simba: "Hey Uncle Scar, when I'm King, what'll that make you?"
Scar: "A monkey's uncle."
Pumbaa: "Kid, what's eatin' ya?"
Timon: "Nothing, he's at the top of the food chain!"
Zazu: "Well, as slippery as your mind is, as the King's brother you should've been first in line."
Scar: "Well, I was first in line, until the little hairball was born."
Mufasa: "That hairball is my son. And your future king."
Scar: "Oh, I shall have to practice my curtsy."
Pumbaa: "It's our motto."
Simba: "What's a motto?"
Timon: "Nothing. What's a motto with you?"
Scar: "Oh, Zazu, do lighten up. Sing something with a little bounce in it."
Zazu: "It's a small world after all..."
Scar: "NO! No. Anything but that!"
Sarabi: "You're son is awake."
Mufasa: "Before sunrise he is your son."
Four out of four circles of life, that move us all, through despair and hope, through faith and love, till we find our place, on the path unwinding, in the circle, the circle of life.