Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Lion King (1994)

Today's animated feature is The Lion King.  What can I say about it that has not been said before?  It is regarded as one of the best and well-made animations ever.  It also marks the first time Disney has used a Shakespeare play instead of a children's book or fairy tale.

Did you have to read Hamlet in school?  We did.  Sometimes it's hard to read because of the flowy language, but that's how they talked back then.  In the story, the King has a jealous brother who kills him to take the throne and the Queen marries him.  The King appears in ghost form to his son, Prince Hamlet and tells him the truth about his death.  Hamlet goes to avenge his father's death and absolutely everybody dies.

Naturally this isn't going to work for a family animated film.  The King in this film is Mufasa and his jealous dark-maned brother is Scar.  In the Manazoto language, Mufasa literally means "king".  I guess we know the parents' favorite when one is named King and the other Scar.  For real.  Does Scar's black mane illustrate his not-fitting-in the family, as if he's the black sheep (or lion) in the family?

Scar is the most badass of all villains.  He's even better than any Bond villain.  He doesn't tie anyone up and give a lenghty explanation of his plan.  He simply says to his brother, "Long live the king", and tosses him off a cliff.  Granted, he did do a musical number detailing his plans of usurping the throne accompained by Nazi goose-stepping hyenas, but the victim was not there to see it.

Scar also makes it seem to Simba that he was the one who caused his father's death.  He tells him, "Nobody means for these things to happen.  But, the king is dead, and if it weren't for you he'd still be alive."  He tells him to run away and never return.  Once he is gone, he orders the hyenas to kill him.  Notice how he didn't directly kill them himself.  Simba escapes into the jungle, where he meets Timon and Pumbaa.  They teach him the art of "not giving a fuck", also known as "Hakuna Matata".

Fast forward a few years later, because I don't know how long lions live, when Scar's bad practices have led to the destruction of the pridelands and the starvation of everyone.  Even the hyenas are starting to turn on him.  Nala, Simba's childhood friend, finds him and implores him to return and take his true place as king.  Simba doesn't want to, partially because of guilt and partially because of laziness.  That is, until his father returns.

His father appears to him in the night sky, as a ghost in cloud form.  Look, if your dead father appears in a cloud telling you to get your shit together, it's really time to get your shit together.  So, Simba runs back home - to dramatic African music.  Will he defeat his uncle and bring balance back to the Pridelands?  Of course he will.

The best part of this movie is the beautiful score and fun songs.  I bought the soundtrack just for the score by Hans Zimmer.  This is one of the best animated films I have ever seen.  It has a beautiful score, great story, and stunning animation.  I can watch it again and again and never tire of it.  It is so great.  I will give this film a 10/10.

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