THE LION KING
Walt Disney Pictures
|Original title: The Lion King|
Characters: Simba, Timon, Pumbaa, Mufasa, Nala, Scar, Rafiki, Zazu, Shenzi, Banzai, Ed, Sarabi
Production: Walt Disney Feature Animation
Regia: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff
Gender: Adventure animated film
Duration: 89 minutes
Recommended age: Children from 6 to 12 years old
The concept that every end corresponds to a new beginning is certainly not a modern conception that has appeared in recent years: with the passage of time, in all eras this thesis has been vigorously explored in many oral, philosophical, literal and cinematographic cultures. As far as the world of cinema is concerned, the best film that in our opinion has managed to project all the facets of this now almost indisputable truth is undoubtedly the animated masterpiece by Disney de "The Lion King". It was back in 1989 when in the brilliant minds of the Disney authors the idea of creating a cartoon with contents so profound as to make adults passionate and reflect, but also from the driving comedy and light-heartedness that could have attracted even younger audiences, and within five years this idea finally became a reality: in 5 Disney launched its 1994nd animated classic from the original title of "The Lion King".
The new 3D re-edition
The film was a hit of absolutely unexpected dimensions. After the false start of the first week of screening (only 50 dollars earned), the film reached the coveted record of first place overall among world box office in the year 1994. The success figures are frightening even when compared to those of the times. modern where a movie ticket costs much more than in the past, in fact "The Lion King" can boast a total income that exceeds 780 million dollars worldwide to date. These numbers are of capital importance given that in this period America is again distributing this film in its cinemas, in a version renewed by 3D. The Lion King is the first Disney classic to "undergo" the transformation in 3 dimensions and for how sales are going (more than 60 million dollars collected in 2 weeks) we absolutely feel like sharing this choice and we can not help but ask ourselves if with films of the caliber of Aladdin or The Little Mermaid the results would have been the same. To tell the truth, initially all this was seen as a sort of sociological experiment to see how much the classic cartoons of the 90s generation could have their say even in our groups with the grafting of the new technology that will slowly inexorably supplant the canonical 2 dimensions; in fact there were only two weeks scheduled for the release of the film, which obviously have been extended. In all this the Italian film industry does not want to be outdone and from 11 November it will also be possible for us to judge how much 3D technology has improved or worsened a film that over time has become the heritage of the entire world collective imagination. For the purists of the genre and for those who turn up their noses in the face of the profanation of the great classics, we feel compelled to say that this "re-edition" of the Lion King does not include scenes that have been cut, changed or added; nothing has been touched compared to the original except for the 3D support which, according to sales, has given new life to a title that can be commonly found in all sauces in its first version. It is true that every end corresponds to a beginning and for us 11th November will be the beginning of the era of the wonderful 3-dimensional Disney classics.
As previously mentioned, the film saw the light for the first time 17 years ago, so to better prepare you for the vision of the new version, it will be our task to treat the shining surface and the most remote and dark corners hidden among the animated sequences in every aspect. of "The Lion King". We will begin the argument with a summary of the main plot that sees as the absolute protagonists the lion Simba, his father Mufasa and the perfidious uncle Scar pushed into action by the ambition of being able to become the king of the savannah in defiance of the legitimacy of inheriting this title.
Walt Disney Pictures
The story of the lion king
The scenario where the events of "The Lion King" will develop is that of the African savannah. It is dawn and all animal species are set in motion causing a great commotion in the surrounding environment, their ultimate goal is to go to "the rock of the kings" and pay homage to the future ruler Simba, son of the Mufasa lions. (current king) and Sarabi (his wife) who is about to be officially introduced by the shaman baboon Rafiki. However, not all creatures go to pay homage to Simba, unexpectedly missing from the event is Scar, Mufasa's brother who sees in the little lion the main cause of his non-designation as the future king of the savannah. Scar apparently and inevitably proves to be affectionate and caring towards the little Simba, but within himself there is the desire to see him die and thus be able to legitimately be the new ruler after the death of King Mufasa. He therefore decides to ally himself with some perfidious hyenas and to push through the use of reverse psychology the tender lion to visit the elephant cemetery (located beyond the boundaries allowed by Mufasa and where his jurisdiction has no power). Simba, driven by curiosity, involves his lion-like friend Nala in this adventure and, once freed from the company of Zazu (a faithful and pedantic bird in the service of Mufasa), he sets foot in the forbidden territory. The fearless Simba will soon have to give in to fear when 3 hyenas loyal to Scar: Shenzi, Banzai and Ed try to kill him. Fortunately Mufasa manages to find Simba and Nala, rescues them and will severely scold his son for disobeying his orders. Scar does not abandon his murderous intentions and decides by mutual agreement with the hyenas, a new plan to kill Mufasa and finally get rid of his son Simba: while the little lion exercises with its immature roar, a herd of wildebeest is stirred up by the intervention hyenas.
Walt Disney Pictures
Simba risks being overwhelmed by a tide of moving hooves, but once again it will be Mufasa to save him, unfortunately, however, in doing so he will suffer many injuries and when he was almost managing to save himself he is dropped from a cliff by Scar who will decide to kill his brother under the incredulous eyes of Simba, who from his perspective has only witnessed the fall of his father not knowing that the real architect of all this is his uncle. After Mufasa's death, Scar will accentuate Simba's sense of guilt so much for the tragedy that he will subliminally force him to flee the kingdom and never return. With the death of Mufasa and the disappearance of Simba, considered dead by the whole herd, Scar is appointed the new king of the savannah and will begin his regime of terror by allying himself with the hyenas and thus allowing them to enter his kingdom. Simba in the meantime manages with a little luck to escape again from an attack of the hyenas and after resting, the following day he meets two strange creatures: the meerkat Timon and the warthog Pumba. These live for the day without future worries and decide to teach Simba their way of life and their motto Hakuna Matata (don't think about it), not to mention that they can count on the help of the little lion to hunt and protect themselves from other wild beasts, especially when this grows up. Simba willingly accepts the company of the two animals who will tell him their story and their will to turn their backs on the world as the world did with them. Over time, the three will become great friends and live like savages hunting for insects to eat to survive. One day, however, Pumba is attacked by a lioness, she is about to kill the warthog until Simba intervenes and recognizes in that lioness his great childhood friend: Nala.
Walt Disney Pictures
Nala is delighted that Simba is alive and tells him how Scar is forcing the herd to starve as the hyenas have now settled in their territory and begs Simba to return home. However, in his heart, still feeling responsible for the death of his father Mufasa, he refuses the offer. Meanwhile, some of the dust raised by Simba from a cliff is carried by the wind towards the wise Rafiki, who with a spell manages to be sure that Simba is still alive, the baboon will immediately set off until he reaches. The illuminating words of Rafiki first and the appearance of the spirit of the deceased father then, will convince Simba to return home and reclaim his throne for the good of the whole kingdom. Once back home in the company of Timon and Pumba, Simba will face all the ghosts of his past admitting to the whole pack that he is the main responsible for Mufasa's death. Scar is ready to kill Simba, but before the coup de grace he reveals the perplexing truth about his father's demise. Simba's reaction is so violent that it allows him to overwhelm Scar's strength and condemn him to certain death, but the little lion proves magnanimous and intimates Scar to escape after he has blamed the hyenas for everything. Following another unfair move by his uncle, Simba hurls Scar off a cliff, where at the end of which the starving hyenas will be the executioners responsible for Scar's demise. Simba is the new king and over time the whole savannah returns to its former glory. But it does not end there, Simba and Nala get married and the film ends with the presentation to the cliff of the kings of the future ruler: the puppy of Nala and Simba. The circle of life continues.
Walt Disney Pictures
The great merit of Disney was to have assorted a cast of characters, all excellently characterized, each of which reflects a potential and complete human personality. To better understand what we are talking about, we invite you to continue reading the aforementioned article and in particular the part that we will discuss now: the description of the characters, obviously we will start from the protagonist and that is from Simba up to all the other main characters. As for Simba, we have to divide his psychological treatment into two different moments: childhood and adulthood. During childhood Simba is absolutely the embodiment of the prototype of the naive, curious and disobedient child; his way of doing and his excessive vitality lead him towards danger and his naivety will be the basis on which Uncle Scar's perfidious plan will be based, only the pure heart of a child could in fact convince himself that he is responsible for the death of the father. In adult Simba we observe in a few seconds the change that will take him from the adolescent and carefree phase to the more advanced one. Thanks to the interventions of Rafiki and Nala he will be able to shake off all his fears and insecurities to reach his place in the world within the infamous circle of life. So it is the lioness Nala, Simba's childhood friend, who brings the future king to the right "cliff", she will succeed thanks to the most powerful force in the world: love, a force that not even the irresponsible Simba can escape. What good is a pure and passionate heart if it is not supported by reason? Probably little by little, and it is for this reason that the Rafiki baboon stands as a guide to Simba's intellect, his motivation to exist can be compared to that which Virgil had for Dante, that is a guide that from darkness will lead him to light. Often and willingly, the success of a film is given by the antagonist and by creating the character of Scar, Disney certainly hit the mark. Scar is the brother of Mufasa, aware of his weakness compared to the king, however, he is convinced that he is intellectually superior and therefore deserves to ascend the throne. He acts with that one objective set in his mind and we must recognize that his efforts, however vain they turned out to be, were intense and that his machinations lived up to his self-styled ingenuity. Through the actions of Scar we can partially relive the Shakespearean events of Hamlet, in fact the uncle of the heir to the throne who kills his brother for the succession is not new to us as a story. Mufasa, on the other hand, represents moral integrity par excellence, as a good father he is always ready to impart new teachings to his son and even after death he does not abandon him, appearing to him during a vision as a ghost; as long as he is alive and as far as we know he has always acted for good. A character who might seem minor, but who in reality is not, is Zazu, the faithful talkative bird and adviser in the service of the legitimate ruler of the moment. The personality of Zazu is somewhat controversial, it seems almost to act according to where the wind blows for his personal survival, for this reason it can be traced back to that group of people who with little courage are forced to navigate according to where the wind blows, we can consider Zazu as a more evolved form of the Iago parrot present in Aladdin. Leaving aside other minor characters that offer few points of discussion such as Sarabi (Simba's mother) and the hyenas Shenzi, Banzai and Ed (cliché seen and revised in a small band of villains style composed of a mind, an arm and a fool), we arrive now to the characters who have marked the triumph of comedy and lightheartedness of "The Lion King": the suricate Timon and the warthog Pumba. How such an apparently mismatched couple can be born is easy to say: both animals are outcasts of their own communities. We don't have much news about Timon's past, but about Pumba we know that he was forced into solitude by his unbearable body odor; therefore no tragic story behind the warthog and immediately a half hint of comedy. The two beings fighting for survival thus find themselves establishing a lasting partnership based on survival, friendship and the carefree nature of life.
To positively evaluate a film like "The Lion King" is to say that water is necessary for our livelihood; we are therefore faced with two obvious things. We certainly join the whole group of qualified and unqualified opinion makers who have considered this film a masterpiece, but more than praising the drawings, the dialogues, the setting, the production, the story, the characterization of the characters and the music, we will judge and we will explain all the values that this film brings with it and that allows the viewer's thought to mature once the viewing is over. Indeed, before proceeding with the previous resolution, we must necessarily mention the importance of the soundtracks and songs present. First of all, a great merit of the songs that we can listen to while watching the film is that these melodies and words do not represent isolated moments of filling in the so-called dead times, but enormously support the plot and the main events. No song can be minimally significant if isolated from the communicative context in which it is inserted. The only exception in this regard is perhaps represented by the song written by Elton John and winner of one of the two Oscar awards assigned to the film (the second was awarded for the soundtracks of Hans Zimmer), "Can you fell the love tonight" : this song is not sung by the protagonists on stage and therefore does not support the plot or the dialogues, but represents that extra touch of magic necessary to permeate the strong pink sequence in which Simba and Nala realize they have just completed the first step towards the path of love.
Let's now discuss those values that the film proves to be a healthy bearer. Although the film lasts approximately "only" 90 minutes, we can extrapolate from the narrative context several literary topoi. Proceeding in chronological order, the first topos we find is that of curiosity as a challenge to the institutions of the moment and this is how we find the little Simba almost like Dante's Ulysses determined to challenge the boundaries allowed by nature and voice bearer of that famous verse of the supreme poet "you were not made to live like brutes but to follow virtue and knowledge". To tell the truth, this is not the only theme that unites little Simba to Ulysses, in addition to the one previously mentioned we have the "homecoming", a return where the protagonist frees and restores his kingdom by killing the invaders, claiming his own right to the throne and opening a new life cycle. As we have mentioned before, the cardinal event possible from Scar's ambitions has an affinity with Shakespeare's Hamlet if only from the point of view of the sovereign family hierarchy of the protagonists and the desire to subvert it through a murder. Ludovico Ariosto pointed to the female gender as the main cause of the loss of sense in Orlando Furioso; the film instead argues and demonstrates the exact opposite: it is thanks to Nala's love that Simba manages to wake up from a sleep made of fears and insecurities hidden behind an apparent state of serenity. To give the final shock to the conscience of the lion we think Rafiki, the guide of Simba's intellect who through simple reasoning leads him to the truth. In this regard, we report the baboon's masterful teaching through his words: "Oh, yes, the past can hurt, but in my view from the past you can escape or learn something". These are the very words that allow Simba to avoid the shaman's second stroke of the stick and instill in his soul the courage and strength to go home. Finally, the strongest concept of all: the circle of life. The law of nature is the strongest and most indissoluble that has ever existed; creatures are born, live and die, but their end does not coincide with the total annihilation of the self. As Mufasa teaches Simba, the lions eat the antelopes and the antelopes eat the grass that is born also thanks to the decomposition of the carcasses of the lions themselves. Nature is therefore the symbol of an infinite and perfect cycle where everyone is an integral part of it, willingly or not. If we fully analyze this concept, it will immediately become clear why the film's initial and final sequence coincide in an impressive way.
The Lion King is a film that absolutely deserves to be seen and we are sure that the idea of seeing the adventures of Simba again on the cinema screen, with the addition of 3D technology will push many of you to buy the ticket. Did the lion fall asleep? Definitely no!
Authors and voice actors
We give credit to the main architects of the creation of "The Lion King". The entire film is directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, director of the entire Stuart Little saga. The production head is Don Hahn and the screenplay was written mainly by Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts and Linda Woolverton; this was supervised by Tom Finan. The music was written and produced by Tim Rice and Elton John, while the arrangement is the work of Hans Zimmer. 2 executive producers: Thomas Schumacher and Sarah McArthur and 1 association producer, Alice Deway. As for the technical sector, we find Andy Gaskill as Art Director, Chris Sanders as production designer, Randy Fullmer as artistic coordinator and Scott Santoro as head of visual effects. All sound effects refer to Weddington Production Inc, the story is instead conceived by Brenda Chapman. The film was produced by Walt Disney and distributed in cinemas around the world by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution Inc. As for the voices of the protagonists we are talking about a very respectable cast among which: Rowan Atkinson (Zazu), Whoopi Goldberg (Shenzi), Jeremy Irons (Scar), Matthew Broderick (adult Simba), James Earl Jones (Mufasa), Nathan Lane (Timon) and Ernie Sabella (Pumba). Equally valuable is the cast of Italian voice actors at the service of the little lion: the voice of Mufasa is of the unforgettable Vittorio Gassman, Scar is played by Tullio Solenghi, Timon by Tonino Accolla (official voice of Eddy Murphy and Homer Simpson); Simba is voiced first by George Castiglia and then growing up by Riccardo Rossi, his partner Nala instead first by Perla Liberatori and then by Lorena Brancucci. To underline among all the excellent characterization given to the character of Rafiki thanks to the voice of Sergio Fiorentini.
All names, images and registered trademarks are copyright © Walt Disney Animation, and are used here for cognitive and informative purposes.