A film like The Lion King only has to take 12 seconds like the rising of the sun in the pride lands with how iconic it's story, characters, and legendary music. The rest has become history and the legacy that follows is still felt even to this very day.
The Lion King is one of those unique stories of how it demonstrates that sometimes people don't see the vision of a story, yet it turns out to be the legacy since making it’s debut in 1994. George Scribner who was the director of Oliver And Company was intended to direct, for he envisioned the film to be an animated documentary instead of a musical which Disney is very well known for, Somehow those differences for him and the some of the producers couldn’t be overcome. The Director’s chair was then turned over to Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, who became the main components behind one of the most memorable Disney films ever. The accolades it garnered helped build it to the legacy became and cemented itself in the prestigious list of Top 250 Movies Ever. Although the success of the film is felt worldwide today, Allers and Minkoff didn’t recognize the massive hit they had on their hands. The high level of quality that is seen in the film can be largely attributed to lots of collaboration and a shared vision. Because of the timing of its release and associated nostalgia, this film holds a special place in myself, and Gold Leader’s heart.
This film’s lasting impact can be attributed largely from both the musical numbers and the Oscar-winning score from Hans Zimmer. Zimmer’s score is monumentally iconic with scores like “This Land” which display uplifting Kenyan roots while showcasing Pride Rock at night. On the other hand, “To Die For” showcases crafty heartbreaking tension of epic proportions. “Under the Stars” does a great job reiterating an uplifting mood, while setting the stage for the grand finale. “King of Pride Rock” is the most important piece and is special to me because it is separate from the other iconic Disney scores or songs you know and love. Zimmer goes for an epic shift forward, and that shift is the reason why it separates itself into something new. Whether it’s the first time you’re watching The Lion King or your fiftieth, the song still evokes feelings that you cannot describe. To me, it seems straight out of a epic war, which is different than many Disney movies. Looking beyond the score throughout the movie there are other times where there are songs that fit well into the movie and help explain the plot. This can definitely cause goosebumps, especially “The Circle of Life”, which starts the movie off with an iconic bang, “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King”, “Hakuna Matata”, and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”. These works are equally iconic to Zimmer’s work as the music team lead by Elton John and Tim Rice won the Oscar for Best Original Song for “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”.
One of the reasons this film was an outrageous box office success which also went on to win many accolades, was the high level of voice acting that was captured. The iconic characters that we know and love were truly brought to life by their actors, breathing both essence and soul into animated animals. James Earl Jones did a great job voicing Mufasa, a very humble and strong father who wants his son to succeed him. Matthew Broderick was brought in to voice adult Simba which is struggling to face his destiny of becoming the new King of Pride Rock. Jeremy Irons is fantastic as the cunning and sly Scar who only wants to become king and ruler of pride rock. Two great castings are Nathan Lane as Timon the meerkat and Pumbaa the warthog, played by Ernie Labella. A surprisingly great performance was brought by Rowan Atkinson, who played the messenger Zazu. Zazu reports to Mufasa and gives him the recurring morning report which is prime time for Simba to learn how to pounce. There are three villainous hyenas who bring a henchman-like comedy to the movie with their three different personalities. Whoopi Goldberg plays Shenzi who is the very sassy leader of the three hyenas, joined by Cheech Main as Banzai and Jim Cummings as Ed.
The first thing to mention with regards to production design is how great of a job the directors did in getting the look right. They put in the time and research needed to make the movie look real and fantastic. They traveled to real locations including the Savannah and Hells Gate National Park in Kenya. The sun that is rising frame by frame at the very beginning is now one of the most iconic movie shots ever, and then shifts the spotlight all types of different animals. Because of the way the directors created this opening, both the song and scene will forever be etched in movie lore. What the movie does well is also accurately represent the animals. This creates a believable story because all of the animals look right, and also opens a gateway into nature for kids watching the movie. The Lion King’s production design does a great job at presenting variety, from the bright cheery colors on its most energetic and cheerful songs, to the dark and bleak colors on songs that hint at trouble or dark times ahead. Not only was the production design good back in the day when it originally premiered, it has aged phenomenally and still looks great today.
The story gets kickstarted with the birth of Simba which is shown through “The Circle of Life”. Soon after being born, Simba learns that he is set to succeed his father Mufasa and become the new King of the Pridelands. One of the softer moments of the film, Mufasa teaches Simba about the Circle Of Life and how far their kingdom stretches. Mufasa’s brother Scar feels cheated in the line to become king and hatches a plan which sends Simba to exile, tricking Simba into thinking that he is responsible for Mufasa’s death. While running away, he meets Timon and Pumbaa who help raise him from a cub into a full-grown lion. However, the way they raise him may not be the way Mufasa had intended Simba to end up. A great part about the movie is the accuracy to which some of the animal behavior is represented. I saw a nature video in high school that helps explain some of Scar’s actions. In the movie, Scar wants the throne to become King and the leader of the pride. To do so, he has to kill both the current king and his heir. It turns out this also takes place in the real world since a new male lion will kill any remaining cubs in a pride when he takes over.
To even unlock the potential of words to elaborate on the emotions of this movie would be way out of proportion. Simply being because of there being an abundant amount of so many words in the dictionary that it is hard. What i can say however is the this movie is good at being one of those movies from Disney remembered at making sure it is never forgotten the first time you have seen it and that it will remind you that it will remain by your side by the hundredth time you have seen it.