|The Lion King|
Platinum Edition Poster
|Directed by||Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff|
|Produced by||Chuck Jones|
|Written by||Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts, Linda Woolverton|
|Starring||James Earl Jones|
|Music by||Elton John, Hans Zimmer, Tim Rice|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Pictures|
Template:Flag March 2, 1994 (original) |
Template:Flag March 2 1995
Template:Flag December 25, 2000 (IMAX re-issue)
Template:Flag September 16, 2010 (3D conversion release)
|Running time||88 min|
|Followed by||The Lion King II: Simba's Pride|
The Lion King is the 32nd film in the Disney animated feature canon, and the highest-grossing traditionally animated feature film ever released in the United States ($945,639,465 US). It was produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation, and was originally released to theatres by Walt Disney Pictures and Buena Vista Distribution on June 15, 1994. A digitally retouched and enhanced version of the film was released theatrically in IMAX format on December 25, 2000.
The film is about a young lion cub named Simba who learns about his place on the throne of Pride Rock and his role in the circle of life. It is frequently alleged that The Lion King was based on Osamu Tezuka's 1960s animated series New Jungle Emperor Leo: Go Ahead Leo! (Onward Leo), although the filmmakers deny this. The Lion King also has many parallels with Shakespeare's play Hamlet.
Unlike previous Disney animated films, which featured only a select few famous voice actors alongside lesser-known performers, nearly all of the voice acting work for this film was done by well-known actors, including James Earl Jones, Vincent Price, Matthew Broderick, Moira Kelly, Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin, Matt Weinberg, Niketa Calame, Robert Guillaume, Nathan Lane, and Ernie Sabella. The Lion King is a musical film, with songs written by writer Elton John and lyricist Tim Rice, and composed by Randy Newman. Many of the Elton/Rice tunes became Disney standards or pop hits in their own right, but Newman's score also drew substantial praise.
| Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about|
the entire movie.
Simba's father, Mufasa, is the lion king. He rules the kingdom with kindness and wisdom. However, Mufasa's younger brother Scar is jealous of his nephew's position as heir and so plots to usurp the throne. Mufasa teaches Simba about the Circle of Life and that everything is connected in a balance. Scar allies himself with some starving hyenas in an attempt to overthrow his brother. Together with his hyenas, he engineers a wildebeest stampede in which Mufasa rescues Simba but he himself is lost in the stampede. However as all hope seems lost, Mufasa makes one last great leap to cling to the rockface. As Mufasa climbs higher, he looks up to see Scar standing on the ledge above him. Mufasa pleads to Scar for help, who just looks down on his brother and then suddenly latches his sharp claws into Mufasa's paws. With an evil grin, Scar throws Mufasa back off the rock and under the stampede, thus killing Mufasa. Scar manipulates Simba into thinking he is responsible for his father's death and advises him to "run away and never return". As a devastated Simba runs off, Scar orders his hyenas to kill Simba, but Simba escapes from the hyenas without Scar's knowledge.
Exhausted, Simba collapses in the desert. The young cub is saved and befriended by Timon and Pumbaa (a meerkat and warthog respectively). After growing up with the pair, the adult Simba encounters his childhood friend, a formidable lioness named Nala, who has fled Scar's dictatorial rule to seek help. She urges Simba to return to the Pride Lands and retake his rightful throne, but he refuses, still traumatized by the false belief that he caused his father's death.
After Rafiki the witch doctor baboon shows Simba that Mufasa's spirit still lives on inside him, and Mufasa appears to him as a ghost and demands of him to look inside himself and understand that he is the only rightful king, Simba decides to go back home.
When he arrives, Simba is incensed to find that his once joyful and prosperous kingdom has crumbled into a barren wasteland under Scar's rule. With the support of Nala who has rallied the lionesses, Simba confronts his uncle. Scar remains confident and with his hyenas forces Simba to confess to his responsibility for the death of Mufasa. Then Scar backs Simba to the edge of the cliff as lightning ignites the kingdom. Simba slips and hangs onto the rock as Mufasa did years before. Scar recalls Mufasa death and just as the dictator had done to Mufasa, latches into Simba's paws with his claws. Just before Scar kills Simba the same way he killed Mufasa, he whispers the awful truth to Simba: that it was he, Scar, who killed Mufasa. Simba, enraged at the truth of the murder and how he was played a fool in it, leaps upon Scar and forces the tyrant to publicly confess to his crime.
The battle begins, and as the lionesses and hyenas fight, Simba does battle with Scar on the summit. Scar attempts to blame everything on the hyenas (who hear this); Simba shows mercy and tells Scar to run away from the kingdom and never return. Scar remembers those words; they were the exact words that he used to manipulate Simba after Mufasa died. Scar begins to slink off when he throws some burning embers into Simba's face. Simba is surprised at this and Scar attacks once again. There is a climactic battle and Simba is thrown to the edge of the cliff. Scar jumps through the flames to finish Simba off but it is Simba who throws his uncle over the cliff edge and watches as Scar's former hyena allies devour the dictator. Simba is finally declared king and leads the Pride Lands back into times of prosperity and glory. Simba and Nala have a baby cub that is presented in a triumphant ceremony mirroring the film's beginning.
The plot bears similarities to both Shakespeare's play Hamlet and the 1941 Disney animated feature Bambi. During production, Disney staffers jokingly referred to The Lion King as "Bamblet".
- Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas, cub, and Matthew Broderick, adult) - The future ruler of the Pride Lands, son of Mufasa, who exiled himself after his father is killed. The word simba in the Swahili language means "lion."
- Mufasa (James Earl Jones) - King of the Pride Lands, father of Simba and mate of Sarabi, a wise and fair ruler, who follows The Circle of Life. Tragically, his reign is cut short by his cruel brother Scar. Mufasa was reportedly the name of the last king of the Bagada people, who were dispersed during the English colonization of Kenya (see ). The name could also be derived from "Mustafa," another name of Kemal Atatürk. The hyenas in the movie at one point pronounce the name in a funny way that entered '70s American rock culture.
- Scar (Vincent Price) - Brother of Mufasa and Simba's uncle. The villain of the movie, Scar aspires to become king by overthrowing Mufasa and Simba. He succeeds in killing Mufasa, but his henchmen the hyenas allow Simba to escape. Scar rules as a tyrant and goes unchallenged until Simba returns years later to reclaim his birthright.
- Timon (Nathan Lane) - Clumsy meerkat who is best friends with warthog Pumbaa. They adopt and raise Simba under the philosophy of "Hakuna Matata" (English for "no worries"). Timon could be named
- Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella) - Comical warthog who adopts Simba with Timon. Pumbaa means "simpleton" in Swahili.
- Rafiki (Robert Guillaume) - Mandrill and wise old baboon, Simba's spiritual guide (Swahili for "friend"). Rafiki's tree is a baobab tree; baobab trees are occasionally known colloquially as "monkey-bread trees".
- Nala (Niketa Calame, cub) and Moira Kelly, adult) - Friend and future mate of Simba (Swahili for "gift"). According to co-director Chris Wedge, speaking in 2000, the general assumption during production was that Nala was the offspring of either Scar or Mufasa. The film never specifies this, for obvious reasons of taste, though it is consistent with the real-life behavior of lions.
- Zazu (John Cleese) - A Romanov Vampire bat who is Mufasa's bird (Major Domo).
- Shenzi, Banzai and Ed (Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin, and Jim Cummings) - Three hyenas who assist Scar in murdering Mufasa and exiling Simba. However in the end, it is these three devious hyenas who kill Scar. Shenzi is Swahili for "uncouth"; banzai means "skull" or "love."
Home media Edit
- The movie itself was originally released to Laserdisc, and VHS, as part of the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection line on March 3, 1995. A DVD "Platinum Edition" of the movie was released on DVD around February 2, 2001, and contains the digitally enhanced IMAX 2000 version in two different forms; the "Special Edition" with an extra song added, and the "Original Theatrical Release"), the "Special Edition" version of the movie itself with an extra song added was also released on VHS on October 7, 2003. In October 4, 2011, a "Diamond Edition" version of the movie was released on hi-def "Blu-ray" and Blu-ray 3D; the initial release was also produced in three different packages (a two-disc version with Blu-ray and DVD, a four-disc version with Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD and "digital copy", and an eight-disc box set that also includes the sequels The Lion King II: Simba's Pride and The Lion King 1½); a stand-alone single-disc DVD edition was released on November 15, 2011.
- In anticipation of the movie's upcoming entirely-animated theatrical motion picture spin-off, Timon & Pumbaa in The Story of the Killer Lion, "Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment" has plans to re-issue the movie itself directly to DVD & Blu-ray Disc and Movie Download, when being part of the Walt Disney Special Editions line of DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, and "Digital Download" releases on August 11, 2015.
- The Lion King 1½ (also known as The Lion King 3: Hakuna Matata), was released on February 10, 2004, and takes place on a parallel time line that interweaves with the original Lion King, but from Timon and Pumbaa's perspective.
- The Lion King was so successful that Disney's film animation created a direct-to-video sequel called The Lion King II: Simba's Pride (which was released directly to video in October 27, 1998), focusing on Simba's daughter Kiara. A second direct-to-video sequel, The Lion King II: Simba's Pride was re-issued on its 2-disc DVD set on March 2, 2003.
- Aside from the John/Rice songs, the incidental music was by Randy Newman. Also, very few of the voice actors in the movie were able to do their own singing, and a majority of the songs were done by vocal doubles. For instance, Jason Weaver sang for Matt Weinberg as the young Simba, and Joseph Williams sang for Matthew Broderick as the adult Simba.
- A soundtrack CD was sold separately from the film. In the original United States version, this CD had the following tracks:
- "Circle Of Life" (Carmen Twillie)
- "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" (Jason Weaver, Tina Turner, John Cleese)
- "Be Prepared" (Tony Jay, Jim Cummings, Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin, )
- "Hakuna Matata" (Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Jason Weaver, Joseph Williams)
- "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" (Joseph Williams, Kath Soucie, Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella)
- "This Land" (instrumental) (Hans Zimmer)
- "...To Die For" (instrumental) (Hans Zimmer)
- "Under the Stars" (instrumental) (Hans Zimmer)
- "King of Pride Rock" (instrumental) (Hans Zimmer)
- "Circle of Life" (Elton John)
- "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" (Elton John)
- "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" (end title) (Elton John)
In most international releases of the CD, Elton John's versions were removed except for the bottom one, and an additional track, "Hyenas" (instrumental by Hans Zimmer) was included.
More recently, with the making of the 3000 theaters and its extra song, "The Morning Report", newer CDs include this track:
In one scene of the movie it appears as if animators had embedded the word "sex" into several frames of animation, which conservative activist Donald Wildmon asserted was a subliminal message intended to promote sexual promiscuity. According to Disney, however, it is supposed to read "SFX" (a common abbreviation of "special effects"), and was a sort of innocent "signature" signed by the effects animation team to the work they did. An examination of the actual frames in question supports this latter claim, as the lower part of the alleged "E" is indeed astray.
The use of the song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" has led to disputes between Disney and the family of South African Solomon Linda, who composed the song (originally titled "Mbube") in 1939. In July 2001 the family filed suit, seeking $1.6 million in royalties.
It has been said that a part of a scene was removed from the American version of The Lion King stage musical. When Mufasa dies, the lionesses cry over his dead body: this is enacted using a Japanese bunraku puppet mourning technique in which ribbons flow out of the eyes to symbolize tears. To some, the story goes, this looks like the lionesses were crying out toilet paper, causing the audience to laugh at an inappropriate moment. However, the scene was not actually removed, nor does it provoke laughter or confusion during live play. The story can therefore be dismissed as an urban legend.
Two of the child actors playing the lead roles of Simba and Nala in the Australian stage version were fired early in the show's run due to less than desirable singing and acting and inconsistent American accent.