The Lion King is the story of a young cub, Simba who is exiled by his evil uncle, Scar. He learns to take his place in the Circle of Life as the king of the Pride.
Bright sun against an orange sky. Typical desert landscape. Zulu vocals. Iconic music. Bursts of colour. Different creatures of different sizes all seem to be heading somewhere. The Circle of Life commences, a song that won a Grammy award for best arrangement, instruments and vocals. All the animals assemble at Pride Rock, as Rafiki, the baboon makes his way up to greet Mufasa and Sarabi, who is holding tiny Simba.
The baboon wastes no time in breaking a fruit from his stick and spreading the red liquid on the cub’s head. He shakes some powder onto his face, making him sneeze. Then he climbs up, up to the very tip of Pride Rock and raises Simba up. Hundreds of animals kick dust into the air, snorting, squawking, trumpeting, bellowing, screeching, all of them kneeling in unison. Paying their respects to the son of the King, Simba.
The movie won two Academy Awards for its music and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – musical or comedy. It thrilled everyone with its splendid style of animation, stunning music and the amazing story that held all of it together.
The Lion King was a success in every aspect. It explored the darker side of life with Simba’s evil uncle Scar and his hyena minions. The great Jeremy Irons voices Scar. Irons sings segments of “Be Prepared”, establishing Scar’s villainous intent. In that iconic scene, he leaps from rock to rock with green mist surrounding him and senseless hyenas marching beneath him, their rabble forming his army. The song suited his award winning voice. He didn’t just ‘sing’ it. He growled it. He spat it out. He shrieked it. In short, he brought the evil character to life.
The movie still had a light touch with its humorous dialogue and timeless messages on growing up. And if that wasn’t enough, the voice-over casting was perfect.
Being brave doesn’t mean you go looking for trouble.
James Earl Jones, the winner of not one, not two, but three Emmy Awards, voices the Lion King, Mufasa. Simba learns valuable lessons from his father, that stay with him throughout his life. “Being brave doesn’t mean you go looking for trouble.” Mufasa tells the disobedient cub. Mufasa has a noble, grand yet humble air about him that makes Simba want to be just like him.
Timon and Pumba are silly, colourful characters that we come across later in the film. The meerkat and warthog, steal our hearts with their carefree ways and simple lives. They introduce Simba to the motto of Hakuna Matata, “no worries”. But this leads Simba to forget who he is and all his responsibilities too.
Nala, his childhood friend, knows him better and so does wise old Rafiki, who guides Simba back, telling him, “Oh yes, past can hurt, but the way I see it you can either run from it or learn from it.” Simba learns to remember who he is and goes back to the Pride to claim his rightful place in the Circle of Life, as the Lion King.
This enchanting story had all the right things that make an animation movie perfect - music, graphics, voice-overs, story and characters. A worthy contender for Best Animation Movie.