Winner of two Academy Awards for Best Music, both Original Score and Original Song, The Lion King would have won Best Picture had it not been an animated film. Arguably the greatest full-length animated Disney feature of all time, The Lion King is a drama of epic proportions, and a film that forever extended the boundaries of the animation genre. Hans Zimmer creates an original score that is second to none in cinematic history, and Elton John’s hit single “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” swept the nation upon the film’s release. With powerful and often mesmerizing visual sequences, the use of a timeless plot device, and brilliant direction, the film will stand the test of time as one of the best movies ever produced.
The Lion King takes place in Pride Rock, a serene jungle paradise on the African plain. In Pride Rock, every animal lives as part of a harmonious ecosystem, ruled by the greatest animal of all, the strongest and wisest lion, King Mufasa. When Mufasa’s wife gives birth to the lion cub Simba, the young heir’s Uncle Scar hatches a plot to overthrow his brother and take the kingdom by force. Forming a conspiracy with a pack of wild hyenas, Scar’s evil plan is to lure Simba and Mufasa into a valley where the hyenas stir up a herd of wildebeests which end up trampling Mufasa and leaving him clinging for his life on the edge of a cliff. With Mufasa’s life hanging in the balance, Scar seizes the opportunity to send his brother hurling to a bloody death.
With the king gone, and Simba too young to defend the kingdom, Scar and the hyenas ascend to power. Pride Rock is soon reduced to a desolate wasteland as its newest rulers ravage the landscape, while Simba is forced into exile. Fleeing to a faraway land free of predators, Simba befriends Pumbaa and Timon, a warthog and meerkat who live carefree lives feasting on grubs and insects. But as time passes, a chance encounter reunites Simba with his childhood destiny. Can Simba return to Pride Rock and reclaim his rightful position as king, or will he succumb to the temptations of an easy life, free from conflict and responsibility?
Widely regarded as the greatest animated film in Disney’s arsenal, and certainly the best of the computer-generated era, The Lion King is a cinematic masterpiece in any medium. If you tend to shy away from animated films as childlike or simply just not your cup of tea, you would be well advised to make an exception for The Lion King. It’s quite simply an extraordinary epic, replete with dazzling choreography, well-blended musical scores, and characters the audience loves to root for. In one particular scene, the Disney animators’ use of Leni Riefenstahl’s patented camera angles to capture the hyenas marching in lock-step under the singular review of Scar creates an abundance of subconscious images reminiscent of Hitler and the Third Reich. This illusion plants a manifestation of evil in the mind of the viewer that is instantly connected to Scar and his evil intentions. That’s the type of symbolic and all-engrossing power Disney utilizes in this wonderful masterpiece – loved by children, yet replete with deeply probing themes and breathtaking visual images for the adult audience — a perfect 10 of a movie.
Britt’s Rating: 10.0/10