Updated: Nov 12, 2019
Nominee #11 - The Lion King (1994)
The Lion King is often listed as favourite animation movie for many irrespective of their age group. Hakuna Matata entered the vocabulary and Simba showed what being a king takes. With awesome animation for the time, great actors voicing the characters and ring-in-your-head songs the Lion King was a winner
Walt Disney’s animated film The Lion King (1994) opens with one of the most startlingly beautiful scenes of the African open country. A giant sun rising on giant plains. A lone tree and burnt clouds as witness. A piercingly loud African song-cry is followed by scenes of a breeze blowing through the long strands of grass. An explosion of wildlife: rhino, wildebeest, meerkat, cheetah. They raise their heads, alert to the first notes of the song, which seem like a call to celebrate. Giant birds fly near the shoulder of a massive waterfall as the song breaks into chant. A still sleepy mountain oversees a herd of sauntering elephants that seem tiny in comparison.
A giant sun rising on giant plains. A lone tree and burnt clouds as witness. A piercingly loud African song-cry is followed by scenes of a breeze blowing through the long strands of grass. An explosion of wildlife: rhino, wildebeest, meerkat, cheetah.
Suddenly everything and everyone’s moving. Giraffe, worker ants, zebra. They’re all walking toward a tall mascot-like jutting stone ‘Pride Rock’ on which stands one of the most majestic lions – Mufasa. His mane flowing in the wind. A clearly elderly and wise baboon (Rafiki) with aid of a walking stick makes his way through the crowd of gathered animals up to lion rock and embraces the lion in what seems certain celebration. And soon we see why as the lion walks up to the pride perched on the same rock – a lioness (Sarabi) with her lion cub (Simba).
Rafiki walks up to the little cub, breaks what looks like fruit and smears the cub’s forehead with liquid and a little dust. Then he sweeps up the cub in his arms and walks slowly up Pride Rock, right to the very top from where he can see, it seems, almost all of Africa. And in one dramatic gesture he holds the cub high up for all the animals down below to see. They cheer, they roar, they trumpet, they stomp their hooves in approval and kneel in the first sign that the cub is royal. In the first sign that the majestic lion, the cub’s father, is the Lion King.
For an animated movie to have such breath-taking images together make such a memorable opening sequence is a remarkable achievement, helping it compete with the very best among feature film opening sequences. The song ‘Circle of Life’ that plays while this iconic opening sequence unfolds was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song by the award winning duo Tim Rice-Elton John.