Hi guys! So I’ve had a bit of a lazy day today and decided to watch this Disney classic and one of the best animated films ever made. Being born in the 1990’s, I’m probably one of the only kids who grew up without this film in my life, instead I watched the sequel The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride (which I would actually recommend, it’s definitely not as good as the original but it’s still a really good direct to DVD sequel.) So my only experience of the original is actually through an adult’s perspective, but luckily I can say that The Lion King is a film that can be enjoyed by anyone at all because it’s maturity, compelling story and a relatable lead, Simba.
Loosely based off the Shakespeare play ‘Hamlet’, The Lion King follows the adventures of the young lion Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas), the heir of his father, Mufasa (James Earl Jones). Simba’s wicked uncle, Scar (Jeremy Irons), plots to take Mufasa’s throne by luring father and son into a stampede of wildebeests. But Simba escapes, and only Mufasa is killed. Simba returns as an adult (Matthew Broderick) to take back his homeland from Scar with the help of his friends Timon (Nathan Lane) and Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella). From beginning to end, this film is an entertaining package of humour, adventure, action, tragedy and is simply epic!! The iconic opening with the circle of life soundtrack playing over the impressive visuals is always a joy to watch and when the title appears and the music cuts, we just know we’re in for something special. As for the other songs, every one is just as iconic as the opening and equally memorable and fun to sing along with.
Additionally, the famous celebrities who lend their voices to these characters all do a fantastic job, with my personal standout being James Earl Jones, who does a fabulous job at capturing the sense of power and authority of the king, whilst also relaying his love for his son, Simba. I also enjoy Jonathan Taylor Thomas lending his voice for young Simba which effectively captures the prince’s childlike sense of adventure and rebellion, which makes him all the more believable for the kids to relate to. Furthermore, the dialogue for the characters also appears natural, especially when young Simba and Nala, his best friend and future lover, interact when they visit the elephant graveyard and when Mufasa must tell his son off for endangering their lives. These scenes make the film more realistic which is admirable, especially for an animated feature.
Of course, we have to talk about the most tragic scenes of the whole film: Mufasa’s death. The whole setup already hints at what is to come, when Scar tells Simba to wait for a surprise that Mufasa apparently wants to show his son and when Scar says the surprise is to ‘die for’, we know that something terrible is going to happen. And when the look of pure dread crosses Simba’s face when he sees the stampede of wilder-beast coming towards him, a scene of tragedy takes place as Mufasa succeeds in saving his son but realises his brother’s betrayal and is killed. Whilst watching it today, I found myself trying to control the tears, but when Simba sees his father’s lifeless body I couldn’t stop them falling, it’s truly a powerful emotional scene and hurts every time I watch it. At this point, we couldn’t hate Scar any more, especially when he makes Simba believe that it was his fault his father died and he effectively goes into exile, leaving Scar the king of Pride Rock.
It’s a good thing the next scene consists of funny sidekicks, Timon and Pumbaa to distract the kids from one of the most heart-wrenching moments Disney has ever produced. I’ve always enjoyed the montage of this song as Simba grows up and forgets his past and his reunited with Nala again as he falls in love with her. One of my favourite moments of this film is when Rafiki shows Simba who he really is, with a clever little moral thrown in, teaching children that although the past may hurt it is important to face your mistakes and take responsibility. And so the epic climax of the film commences, with impressive gorgeous visuals as Simba and Scar fight to the death, accompanied by a action-packed score, funny sidekick gags for the kids and a final realisation that Scar is responsible for Mufasa’s death. It’s truly satisfying to see this jealous, corrupt villain become dinner to the hungry hyenas! Finally, we can end on a high note when Simba and Nala present their daughter (though we don’t know at the time) to the rest of the kingdom and completing a wonderful film!
Although I wished this film was part of my childhood, I can still enjoy it just as much as an adult. It truly deserves it’s praise, though a little overrated from time to time, it’s still a magnificent achievement by Disney and is something I can return to knowing I’m in for a treat!