- Directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff (Feature Directorial Debuts)
- June 15, 1994 (US)
- Simba-Matthew Broderick/Joseph Williams singing voice
- Young Simba-Jonathan Taylor Thomas/Jason Weaver singing voice
- Scar-Jeremy Irons
- Mufasa-James Earl Jones
- Sarabi-Madge Sinclair
- Nala-Moira Kelly/Sally Dworsky singing voice
- Young Nala-Niketa Calame/Laura Williams singing voice
- Timon-Nathan Lane
- Pumbaa-Ernie Sabella
- Rafiki-Robert Guillaume
- Zazu-Rowan Atkinson
- Shenzi-Whoopi Goldberg
- Banzai-Cheech Marin
- Ed-Jim Cummings
- Sarafina-Zoe Leader
A lion prince and his father are targeted by his devious uncle who seeks to take the throne.
Is anything more beautiful than hand-drawn animation on the screen? Quite possibly but it does have a staying power that CGI just does not. The Lion King is a movie you could watch with no sound and just be impressed with the visuals. It is lovely to look at.
The Lion King is a family friendly yet mature story. It accomplishes this by not talking down to the audience or simplifying things to the point of stupidity. It’s a Shakespearean drama focusing on a Machiavellian villain (can I use those two words in the same sentence?) named Scar who steals the throne of a kingdom from the rightful heir Simba.
The core of the story after Scar takes control is built around good governance. Why do I say that? While under Mufasa, the Pride Lands thrive and prosper. There is bounty and plenty for everyone in an environment of freedom (even though some of those living there get eaten). They kind of gloss over that in a few scenes tbh. But when Scar takes charge his greed and general incompetence which he has been ignorant of because of his lust for power destroys everything and brings the Pride Lands to ruin. Basically what happens when bad politicians get too much power.
Scar seeks power to havepower. He thinks he deserves it. He’s not doing it out of an obligation to serve others nor does he care to maintain things beyond himself. The land and his subjects are there to serve him. He is not there to serve them.
As much as I like The Lion King one thing that has bothered me from day one was that Simba so readily believed he had killed Mufasa. Maybe there was an edit at some point in the script and nobody noticed but just a few moments before he had gone out to that rock to wait for his dad based on what his Uncle Scar had told him. There was supposed to be a big surprise yet after the stampede Simba is blaming himself like he had done something stupid again and Scar had no hand in putting him into a position where he needed to be saved. I know he is supposed to be a young child, but no kid is that stupid.
I do also have a little bit of an issue of when it comes to the romance between Simba and Nala. I know this is a Disney movie and romances tend to happen rather quickly but honestly they were just friends when Simba ran away. There was no hint of a potential romantic future but when Nala finds Simba it’s a love thing and by the end of the movie there is Simba Jr. being held up by Rafiki.
This film gave us a list of classic Disney characters. Simba, Scar, Mufasa, Nala, Rafiki, Timon, and Pumbaa. All could be considered among the pantheon of great Disney characters. Some even got their own show.
Events of the finale are set in motion early in the story though the midpoint of the film is essentially a pause in the narrative. Seriously. What happens with Timon and Pumbaa and Simba just explains how he survived until adulthood. It really doesn’t move things towards the final confrontation with Scar. The tidbits showing how poorly Scar has managed things however do. You need to know why Nala is out poking around for help. It doesn’t make it a weaker movie. It’s just set up.
The Lion King perfectly balances drama with the trademark Disney humor. They work hand-in-hand and even each other out. This movie is exciting and humorous with great dialogue. The music is absolutely classic. Like any good bit of music they are catchy but as with any song included in a film they explain and move things along. You get a better sense of things. “Circle of Life”, “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King”, “Be Prepared”, “Hakuna Matata”, and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”) all have a place in the pantheon of great Disney music. Tim Rice and Elton John crafted some real magic.
The original The Lion King is a classic bit of Disney animation. It has exciting scenes and great drama along with memorable songs and good humor. This is a must see classic!