The Lion King

The high point of the Disney Renaissance, and still the most commercially successful 2D animated film ever made. “Commercially successful” does not necessarily translate as “best”, although this is a very, very solid film, Sergeant Pepper to Beauty and the Beast’s Revolver (if you’ll forgive the pseudish comparison). I believe this is the first animated Disney film to have no humans OR animals wearing little trousers.

In retrospect, after the impressive ‘Circle of Life’ opening sequence and the classic death-of-the-father scene at the hooves of a thousand CG wildebeest, there’s a certain inevitability to the plot – what, Simba wasn’t going to return to Pride Rock to confront his evil uncle? Everyone made the Hamlet comparison when it first came out, and outraged anime fans have well documented the debt it owes to Osamu Tezuka’s Kimba the White Lion, despite Disney’s official protestations of ignorance of the work of Tezuka. Tezuka’s people pointed out that this is like a Japanese animator claiming to have never heard of Walt Disney.

Everything about this film works, from the all-star voices (Disney soon worked out you could get similar results without paying for quite so many celebrities) to the gorgeous character animation and intricate backgrounds. Watching it for the first time since 1994 I still cringed at Jeremy Iron’s Kenneth Williams impression (yet another camp villain with hooded eyes, a little beard and a look of disdain!) and that fucking awful ‘Hakuna Matata’ song. Still, the songs are better integrated into the plot than Aladdin.

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13 Responses to “The Lion King”

  1. Well, I think Hakuna Matata is great. I still know all the words too.

  2. I’m afraid it makes me stabby. Possibly because Bobby McFerrin was involved.

  3. Or maybe you needed to be 11 when you first saw the movie, like I was?

  4. Good point. Although, funnily enough, I don’t have a similar fondness for The Black Cauldron.

  5. Actually, I have a confession to make. I like “Don’t worry, be happy”. It doesn’t make me stabby.

  6. Well, you’re a much more positive person than I am.
    I think more things should be rated on a ‘stabby’ scale.

  7. Interesting thing about The Lion King: despite ‘Circle of Life’ and the lack of little trousers, it pussy-foots around the whole issue of “hey some of these guys eat some of these other guys”. Ice Age and Madagascar, regardless of their merits as cinema, both tackle this squarely. Maybe we’ve evolved.

    Oh yeah and they had to make the camp villian look like that else someone might have mistaken him for a Good Guy. Oo

  8. They also skirt around the fact that Simba and Nala are probably brother and sister…

  9. Hang on! Madagascar does not address the meat-eating issue, it “solves” it by allowing the lion to eat sushi, implying that fish don’t count… why couldn’t he have eaten lemurs? There were quite a few around, and he can’t have known them all personally. Madagascar contains far more ecological inaccuracies than Lion King. Actually, one could say Madagascar makes me stabby.

  10. I quite like the Madagascar films, particularly the animation. Good thing Ross from Friends turned to directing, though.

  11. thomsedavi Says:

    I spent the last ten years telling everyone I hate the Lion King soundtrack – then my mother pointed out that I owned the cassette when it first came out.

    When will I be allowed to say ‘I’m showing my age’ when I mention that I once owned a cassette tape? And when will I be able to say ‘do you know what a cassette tape is?’ to teenagers, the way adults used to ask me if I knew what a vinyl record was?

    Of course I knew what vinyl record was. That’s how I knew about Dire Straits, and why I get nostalgic whenever I see a guitar floating against the sky.

  12. “I was young once… but I got better.” Don’t worry, I (have to) say that too.

  13. Ugh. People need to stop claiming The Lion King as the best animated feature film. It’s not. Heck, it is secretly an atrocity if anything. Whoever likes the movie really deserves to be slapped in the face.

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