Ossus Library Index Animated Movie Index

THE LION KING

Directed by Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff (1994, Walt Disney Pictures)
Featuring voices by Rowan Atkinson, Matthew Brodrick, Whoopie Goldberg, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, and Nathan Lane

After his uncle blames him for the death of his father, Simba runs away and tries to come to grips with who he is.

 

 

5 stars

June 11th, 2011, for the 7th time

 
    Absolutely stunning, once again. The animation has stood the test of time, the songs are even better than the ones we still hear on the radio, and the story is very well told. There are no surprises anymore, yet it still manages to keep me in full anticipation of what's to come. The moment when Simba curls up under his father's unmoving paw is heart-wrenching, while the emotions are triggered again when Rafiki appears. I had forgotten about the new song Morning Report, though I realized at the time that it felt unfamiliar to me. As usual, I laughed a lot and cried, too. All around, that in itself makes it a good movie.  

 

5 stars

October 19th, 2003 on DVD for the 6th time

 
    It's good to see this movie again in widescreen. The sides of the film don't seem to contain too much action, but there is still detail to be seen.

The beauty of this tale comes with everything that is involved in the movie, from the comedy, the heartbreak, the fabulous scenery and colors, to the way the characters interact, and especially the songs and music.

Actually, I love the music more than the songs. The instrumentals sound very African, which was intentional, and can really get the heart going. I loved the tune when Simba decides to run back to the Pridelands, because it is really energetic, and the chanting makes it feel even more so.

The new song, Morning Report, doesn't do much for me, though somehow I found myself humming it the following day. I prefer the monolog that Zazu goes through, to him singing something new. The voice of young Simba doesn't even sound like the one in the rest of the movie. Still, it's pretty good, nonetheless.

From the special features on this DVD, we learned that the movie developed from an unknown project into something to be proud of. I wish we saw more of the progress, and the stages where the film started to come together. I think it can be seen which parts belong the original kid's movie, and what was replaced by subject matter and dialog that could be more enjoyed by an adult audience. When the movie suddenly goes into pastels, at the beginning of "I Just Can't Wait to be King", the feel of that section becomes very different from the rest of the movie. Again, it's not bad in any way, it just doesn't feel as epic and mature as other parts.

There is a really amazing split in this movie, as it goes from very serious to severe comedy and back again in split seconds. That's just great.

Many of the extras are rather interesting, but all are way too short. Even using the "play all" feature, the breaks are very visible, and the sections quite distinct. I enjoyed the material concerning the stage production, as well as the shorts on the animals of the Savannah! Much of that was quite cute. My favorite parts dealt with the story, especially the inspirations for the characters with the live animals, which were just magnificent. The games were worth a look -but only one look, and are probably a lot more interesting to kids. They aren't nearly as interactive or quick to respond as a computer game, though.

I just love this movie, and it's about time that it became available on DVD.

 

 

5 stars

June 8th, 2001 on Video for the 5th time

 
    Even after all these years, between the astounding opening scene, the music, and the overall story, I still think this is the best Disney animated film ever.

Tarzan is the only other Disney film that rivals this one (aside from Toy Story 2, but that was Pixar), and though I was tempted to place them equally, I think The Lion King is better.  But in reality, it might just be a toss-up.

I remember watching the opening scene in the theatre for the first time.  I was completely mesmerized and blown away emotionally.  The animals were so powerful, and, beyond that, the cinematography was incredible.  Ants in the foreground were in focus, while animals in the background were blurry, and suddenly the focus switched, just as if they were using live action to film this movie.  By the time the title appeared on the screen, I knew this movie was going to be an incredible success.

The cinematography throughout the film was amazing.  When the stampede begins, the f-stop is switched as Simba sees the approaching animals.  The background recedes behind him.  There was so much attention to detail that it was interesting just to pick them out.

The other thing that makes this movie stand out is the comedy.  Not only provided by the comic relief, Pumba and Timon, but by all the characters.  Scar, with his sardonic replies and devious manipulations was so enjoyable to watch, even as we wished for his downfall.  His interactions with the hyenas ("I'm surrounded by idiots!") was done so that both a child and an adult could enjoy.  

Music is another Disney trademark.  And here it was completely illustrative, unlike most of the songs in Tarzan.  "I Just Can't Wait to be King" showed us Simba's naiveté, and contrasts deeply with the lion he grows up in exile.  Scar's song is absolutely terrific, both in music and in dark undertones.  And "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" became very personal to both Simba and Nala.  But the opening song "Circle of Life", combined with the astounding visuals of that opening scene, seemed to be the most powerful.

There is only one thing that I would change about this movie, and it is extremely, extremely minor. At the very end, when the pridelands go from being deserted to lush and green, I would have preferred a more gradual turning.  It would have been nice to see things returning to normal, over a few seconds, as the time went by.  Instead, we see an abrupt transition to greenery, after all the animals and water returns.  But that's just adding in a few more seconds to the film, not really changing it in any way.

The moral and the story were excellent, as well.  I like the way Simba was set up to fall, and overcome by guilt, he believes Scar when his uncle tells him that it was his fault that Muphasa has died.  In his youthful trusting, of course he's going to believe that.  And when he's presented with a way back home, he has spent all this time digging himself deeper into his guilt that he couldn't even face the prospect of going back.  

The "kings from long ago" in the stars stir something deep within him.  Then, soon after, Nala finds him, and he realizes that he really does want to go back, but doesn't have the courage.  But when Rafiki the baboon hits him over the head with his destiny (literally), he comes to his senses.  All of this was so well done that I can't praise it enough.

The movie seemed to fly by!  It certainly didn't feel like an hour and a half.  Everything flowed naturally.  Just when the movie started to get too serious, in came Pumba and Timon, for comic relief.  And these guys were really funny.  I just love them!  There is so much more that I loved (the pouncing lesson, for one), but suffice it to say that I will be watching this movie again and again over the years.  A true winner.

 
   

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