The Lion King
|The Lion King|
Original Theatrical Poster
|Original release||June 15, 1994|
|Director||Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff|
|Running time||87 minutes|
The Lion King is a 1994 animated movie. It is the 32nd film in the canon, and the highest-grossing traditionally animated feature film in the United States. The film focuses on a young lion in Africa named Simba, who learns of his place in the "Circle of Life" while struggling through various obstacles to become the rightful king.
The story of The Lion King takes place in the fictional Pride Lands of Africa, where a lion rules over the other animals as king. At the beginning of the film, Rafiki , a mandrill shaman, presents Simba , the newborn cub of King Mufasa and Queen Sarabi, to a massive gathering of animals at Pride Rock. Meanwhile, Mufasa's younger brother, Scar, realizes that he is no longer the heir to the throne and plots to kill Simba and Mufasa .
Scar plants curiosity in Simba about the Elephant Graveyard, a place beyond the borders of the Pride Lands where Mufasa has forbidden Simba to go. Simba takes his friend, Nala, to the elephant graveyard , where the cubs are chased by Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, Scar's hyena minions, only to be rescued by Mufasa. Scar becomes very angry as he intended for the hyenas to kill the cubs. Plotting further, Scar gathers more hyenas and buys their loyalty by claiming that if he were king they would never be without food. Later, Scar lures Simba into a gorge for a "surprise from his father," while the hyenas engineer a wildebeest stampede down into the gorge where Simba is. Alerted by an insincerely dramatic Scar, Mufasa races to rescue his son from the stampede, and after saving Simba, Mufasa is killed by Scar, who thwarts his attempted climb to safety over an edge of a cliff. Scar convinces Simba that that he was responsible for his own father's death, and recommends that he flee from The Pridelands, never to return. To compound this, Scar orders the hyenas to kill Simba, but as Simba escape through a thorny embankment, the hyenas break off pursuit and let him get away, expecting him to perish in the desert, and hurling threats that he will be killed if ever seen again. Informed that both Mufasa and Simba were killed, the pride regretfully allows Scar to assume the throne as the closest of kin.
Simba collapses in a distant desert, where he is found by Timon, a meerkat, and Pumbaa, a warthog, who adopt and raise Simba under their carefree "Hakuna Matata" lifestyle. When Simba is grown, he is discovered by Nala, who relays that Scar's tyrannical reign has devastated The Pridelands by allowing the hyenas to hunt recklessly, a problem further compounded by a severe drought. She demands that Simba return to Pride Rock, but Simba refuses, still guilty about supposedly causing his father's death. However, after some advice from Rafiki and the ghost of his father, Simba returns home along with Timon, Pumbaa and Nala.
Once back at Pride Rock, Simba confronts his uncle and the truth about Mufasa's death is revealed by an overly confident Scar. A fierce battle breaks out between the lionesses, along with Timon and Pumbaa, and the hyenas while Simba fights Scar. In the midst of their fight, Scar tries to surreptitiously blame everything on the hyenas, but they overhear his conversation with Simba. Simba eventually triumphs over his uncle by flipping him over the low cliff, where he is surrounded by the now resentful hyenas. The hyenas surround their traitorous, fallen leader and devour him alive. With Simba and Nala as the new king and queen, the Pride Lands soon recovers and the herds return. The movie concludes with Rafiki lifting Simba and Nala's newborn cub high into the air, thus continuing the circle of life.
Elton John and Tim Rice wrote five original songs for this film, with Elton John performing "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" during the end credits.
These are the musical numbers of the film, listed in order of appearance.
- The Circle of Life, is sung by an off-screen, with African vocals by Lebo M and his African choir. This song is played during the ceremony where a newborn Simba is presented to the animals of the Pride Lands. The song is reprised at the end of the film.
- "The Morning Report", a song originally not in the film (it was created for the live musical version), was added with an accompanying animated sequence in the 2003 Platinum Edition home video re-release. Sung by Zazu, Mufasa and young Simba, the song is an extension of the scene in the original film where Zazu delivers a morning report to Mufasa, and later gets pounced on by Simba.
- "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" is sung by young Simba, young Nala, and Zazu. Simba uses this musical number in the film to distract Zazu so that he and Nala can sneak off to the elephant graveyard, while expressing his wish to be king as soon as possible.
- "Be Prepared" is sung by Scar and Shenzi, Banzai and Ed. In this song, Scar reveals to his hyena minions his plot to kill Mufasa and Simba.
- "Hakuna Matata" is sung by Timon and Pumbaa, Simba. Timon and Pumbaa use this song as a warm welcome to Simba as he arrives at their jungle home, and to symbolize their "no worries" lifestyle. Simba grows into a young adult by the end of the song.
- "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" is a love song sung mainly by an off-screen Kristle Edwards, with Timon, Pumbaa, adult Simba, and adult Nala. This musical sequence shows Timon and Pumbaa's frustration at Simba falling in love, and the development of Simba and Nala's romantic relationship. The song won the Academy Award Oscar for Best Original Song during the 67th Academy Awards.
Soundtrack and other albums
The film's original motion picture soundtrack was released on July 13, 1994.
On February 28, 1995, Disney released an album entitled Rhythm of the Pride Lands, a sequel of sorts to the original soundtrack which featured songs and performances inspired by, but not featured in, the film. Most of the tracks were composed by African composer Lebo M and focused primarily on the African influences of the film's original music, with most songs being sung either partially or entirely in various African languages. Several songs featured in the album would later have incarnations in other The Lion King-oriented projects, such as the stage musical or the direct-to-video sequels (examples being "He Lives In You" used as the opening song for The Lion King II: Simba's Pride; and a reincarnation of "Warthog Rhapsody", called "That's All I Need", in The Lion King 1½. Rhythm of the Pride Lands was initially printed in a very limited quantity. However, it was re-released in 2003 and included in some international versions of The Lion King's special edition soundtrack with an additional track.
Sequels and spin-offs
The success of the film led to several spin-offs, its first being a 70mm film released in 1995 entitled Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable. It promoted environmental friendliness and was shown in the Harvest Theater in The Land (Disney)at Epcot in Walt Disney World. Also debuted in 1995 was a spin-off television series called Timon & Pumbaa (TV series) which focused on the titular meerkat and warthog duo in a more modern, human world to the film's.
In addition, a direct-to-video sequel called The Lion King II: Simba's Pride was released in 1998, focusing on Simba's daughter Kiara. Finally, a direct-to-video, The Lion King 1½ (also known as The Lion King 3: Hakuna Matata), was released in 2004, showing the timeline of The Lion King from the perspective of Timon and Pumbaa.
Simba, Mufasa, Nala, Timon and Pumbaa were featured as guests in House of Mouse, and Banzai, Shenzi and Ed were part of the Disney villains in Mickey's House of Villains.
Simba, Timon, Pumbaa and Nala were featured in Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse.
Two video games based on the film have been released. The first, entitled, The Lion King (video game), was published in 1994 by Virgin Group and was released on NES, SNES, Game Boy, Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, Game Gear, Personal computer and Amiga. The second, entitled The Lion King: Simba's Mighty Adventure, was published in 2000 by Activision and was released on PlayStation and Game Boy Color.
In 1996, Disney Interactive and 7th Level released Timon & Pumbaa's Jungle Games for the PC. It was later seen on the SNES. Games include one where Pumbaa uses his gas to destroy fruits and bugs (and even a kitchen sink) that fall out of trees, a variation on a pinball game, a game where you use a peashooter to hit enemy creatures in the jungle, a game where Timon has to jump onto hippos over a river to deliver bugs to Pumbaa, and a variation on Tetris.
A third game was published in 2004 simply called The Lion King for Game Boy Advance in Europe and Asia, but was in fact a game based on the direct-to-video prequel/midquel The Lion King 1½ with Timon and Pumbaa as the playable characters.
Part of the main plot of The Lion King is retold in the 2005 Square Enix PlayStation 2 game Kingdom Hearts II. The characters of the film appear in "Pride Land", one of the many Disney "worlds" in the game. The plot is altered and new dialogue was recorded to accommodate the presence of the three main protagonists (Sora, Donald Duck and Goofy). Simba also appears as a Summon and Summon Card in Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, respectively.
- Disney claims that the story is based on Bambi (The Lion King being a more African-ized version of the film), Hamlet, and that The Lion King is their first original story. However, evidence largely suggests The Lion King is based off of popular-for-its-time anime series Kimba the White Lion.
- A list of the mistakes and continuity errors in this movie can be found here.