Realized I never uploaded pics of My Son’s 2nd Birthday. It was Lion King and Frozen themed.
The FGTEEV Book was for his brother.
#4. The Lion King
As this list goes on I encourage people to remember that 1) I am ranking these movies as to what are my personal favourites as opposed to what I believe is the greatest movie, and 2) 5-2 do often oscillate so while The Lion King is #4 at the moment, it may not always be #4.
But there is no denying that The Lion King is definitely one of the best Disney movies out there, it just doesn’t happen to be my personal favourite despite many people potentially having reasons as to why it should be.
Much like Oliver & Company with the Dickensian foundations, I love a classic Shakespeare story with a Disney twist and The Lion King along with its sequel definitely incorporate two of The Bard’s best with this movie incorporating Hamlet.
It is a great idea to incorporate adult themes into children’s storytelling for the pure and simple reason that it acts as a gateway into Shakespeare even if the kids don’t realise or acknowledge it until years later when they’re forced to study it in secondary school.
But while The Lion King does bring in the mastery of Hamlet, it also stands on its own as a fantastic Disney movie. It is literally Shakespeare with lions and the advantages that this animated feature takes with that both elevates the original source material as well as giving people that may not be familiar with Shakespeare’s work, young and old, their first experience.
I compare it to imprinting where the version of a movie even if it’s a remake, or the version of the song you hear even if it’s a cover is traditionally the favourite of that story or song because it’s the first one you hear or see and in terms of movies or even songs the version that you may grow up with.
As I say, for me, I didn’t really know about Shakespeare until reaching secondary school and for that reason I of course would have found a version of a Shakespearean story in Disney form subliminally accessible.
But moving away from the Shakespeare comparisons, the movie holds up by itself, it just so happens that the story is essentially Hamlet with lions.
I said with Oliver & Company that I gravitate towards dog movies but I think as a child I simply gravitated towards animal movies, it just so happens that dogs became my favourite.
I just found it fascinating that you had relative human situations told through the eyes and mouths of animals particularly when you factor in that they play on the hierarchy of the Animal Kingdom with lions being royalty and how the food chain works.
It would be so easy to make an animated animal movie very corny and even square it at infants but somehow primarily up until the end of the Disney Renaissance Disney managed not to do that and The Lion King is the best example of an entirely animal-populated movie accessible to adults, kids, elders, teenagers, everybody you speak to when you talk about Disney Classics will talk about The Lion King.
In terms of characters, okay as a protagonist Simba is slightly bland. He’s very cute as a cub as far as animated lions go, Jonathan Taylor Thomas does a great job with his voice…but then when Matthew Broderick takes over as his adult self…that’s when he becomes slightly dull for me.
I mean it is almost as if his growth was stunted when his father died and he was effectively forced into exile, which they do explore rather well with the introduction of Timon and Pumbaa as giving him a way to effectively forget about his troubles…but I guess my problem with Simba is while he did face his fears and face up to his past, a lot of what went right for him in the movie really only went that way because he had help, whether from Nala, Timon and Pumbaa, even Rafiki.
Nala is slightly more interesting because she is the one that decides to take a stand against Scar and go out to find help…but obviously while she wasn’t expected to find Simba as she believed him dead…I’m not overly familiar with how quickly lions age but in the time that it took Simba to go from cub to adult…why didn’t Nala go out and find help beforehand?
Do I even need to talk about how great Mufasa is? It’s James Earl Jones who similar to Ming Na Wen has two sectors of the Disney Trifecta under his belt as a Star Wars villain and Disney Father, the only difference being that Jones was Vader before Disney acquired Star Wars but they’re under the same umbrella now.
Scar as a villain is possibly the campiest Disney male villain going and that includes Jafar, Radcliffe and Rattigan. Not only does it look like he’s wearing mascara but the way his melodramatics are apparent so much throughout the movie is just very funny but for the right reasons because he still remains a very threatening and menacing foe.
Timon and Pumbaa are the best examples of a Disney comedic duo, I struggle to think of a pairing this hilarious, it’s the way they quickly cement how strong their friendship is, how Timon is the brains while Pumbaa is the brawn and how they decide to raise Simba as their own.
Nathan Lane as Timon is also a great coo for the movie as his open and somewhat recognisable campy tones really lend themselves well to a character who at best could be bisexual given you never hear either talking about love interests.
Rafiki is my favourite character in the movie, much like how this movie made me realise I knew Shakespeare from an early age, it also made me realise I have had acknowledgement of my spiritual side since a young age as I am now of pagan beliefs and Rafiki is effectively a shaman.
The hyenas, particularly our main three Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, are really great secondary antagonists as they do fall into the category of comedic henchmen but before you know that they’re working for Scar they are just as fearsome and threatening in their own right.
I am relating back to Oliver & Company a lot but in this instance I am talking voice actors as Cheech Marin who was Tito the Chihuaua there is Banzai here and I do often think he is effectively playing the same character as when Tito is trying to act tough he sounds exactly like Banzai and both seem to have a gob on them.
But Whoopi Goldberg is definitely the standout for me out of those three. I love a lot of the voice cast here but Whoopi Goldberg, James Earl Jones and Rowan Atkinson are probably my favourites, with Nathan Lane, Jeremy Irons and Cheech Marin close behind.
Zazu is effectively similar to a lot of characters that Rowan Atkinson has portrayed so brilliantly before and after this but while his moments are great he is probably used the least out of the prominent characters.
Musically, it’s Elton John. I love Elton John, if I could sing a note in tune I would very much like to be Elton John and his music speaks absolute volumes. “Circle of Life” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” are the best songs in this movie. From the second that sun rises with that African chorus coming in at the start of the movie I’m smiling every time.
As for other songs “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King”, “Be Prepared” and “Hakuna Matata” they are also great, and classics. There’s no denying this soundtrack, like a lot of the Disney Renaissance soundtracks, is great, and “Be Prepared” is a fantastic villain song,
I mean Elton John did also compose “The Morning Report” but in his defence nobody is perfect.
This movie just has so many grand moments even as stills that simply resonate on the screen. From the “Circle of Life” sequence to “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” then you have the Wildebeest Stampede which any chance I have to see on the biggest screen possible I take. Even the quieter powerful scenes like when Simba formally meets Rafiki, that’s my personal favourite scene because it has comedy, drama and emotion flowing all the way through it.
Yes the live-action remake did not turn out great…but the only reason that is is because it practically did a shot-by-shot remake of the original. There is nothing overtly wrong with how this story is told and so you could say “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, but fans were hoping the remake would elevate the original not just make fans want to re-watch it more.
There’s nothing else I can say about this movie, it’s Shakespeare with lions and has some of the greatest scenes of both happy and sad feelings in Disney’s history.
So what do you guys think? Post your comments and check out more Disney+ What to Watch Top 10s as well as more Top 10 Lists and other posts.
Today, during our Panda Pixel Party, we explore the numerous things we can do with giant pixel cubes and create beautiful pixel art! Who makes the best shapes?
Let’s find out!
» the lion king (1994)
❝somebody once told me that the great kings of the past are up there, watching over us.❞