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The Lion King  (2 discs) ...
(1 hour 28 minutes)
Synopsis: A Lion cub crown prince is tricked by a treacherous uncle into thinking he caused his father's death and flees into exile in despair, only to learn in adulthood his identity and his responsibilities.
Reaction: Solid, powerful storytelling. There's a reason this one is considered a must-see for many.
Personal Rating: 9/10
Random Trivia For This Title:
- Many fans have described Mufasa's death as one of the saddest and most traumatizing moments of any film in the Disney canon. In fact, the only moment that is considered the same is the death of Bambi's mother. According to the makers, the scene was originally even more heart-breaking and intense, but when a test audience consisting of children saw a preview, they started to sob and cry uncontrollably, so it was decided to tone the scene down a bit.
- The wildebeest stampede took Disney's CG department approximately three years to animate. A new computer program had to be written for the CG wildebeest stampede that allowed hundreds of computer generated animals to run but without colliding into each other.
- The line, "What do you want me to do, dress in drag and do the hula?" was improvised by Nathan Lane.
- Besides inspirations from William Shakespeare's Hamlet, the story also has elements of the Osirian family myths of Ancient Egyptian mythology. In the Osirian myths, the king (Mufasa/Osiris) is killed by his jealous brother (Scar/Seth) and the rightful heir (Simba/Horus) is sent into exile as a boy. The murdered king visits and mentors his son in ghostly visits and when the heir comes of age, he returns to exact revenge on his father's murderer. When he signed onto the film, Matthew Broderick (Adult Simba) thought this was an American version of the anime/manga [Kimba the White Lion], which followed a similar plot line. Despite repeated allegations of plagiarism of the Tezuka Productions' TV series [Kimba the White Lion], first shown in the 1960s, Disney maintain that all the similarities are coincidental.
- Originally Mufasa was to never appear after his death, but producers felt Simba needed a reason to go back to Pride Rock so the spirit scene was made as a "to be or not to be" moment.
- The original intention for 2 of the hyenas was to reunite Cheech & Chong, but while Cheech Marin accepted to play Banzai, Tommy Chong was unavailable. Thus his role was changed into a female hyena, Shenzi, voiced by Whoopi Goldberg. Chong alone would later have a role in a Disney Animated Feature Film 22 years later, being Zootopia.
- Tim Curry and Malcolm McDowell were both considered for the role of Scar.
- Scriptwriters envisioned Sean Connery as the voice of Mufasa.
- Liam Neeson and Timothy Dalton were both considered for the role of Mufasa, but later turned it down, though Neeson would later voice a lion in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and its sequels.
- James Caan, Robert Duvall, and Ray Liotta were considered for the role of Scar.
- Before Rowan Atkinson was cast as Zazu, many other British comedy actors were considered for the role, these include [?] Tim Brooke-Taylor, [?] Graeme Garden, [?] Bill Oddie, [?] David Jason, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Spike Milligan, [?] Ronnie Barker, [?] Ronnie Corbett and [?] Vic Reeves.
- This movie was Gregory Peck's favorite animated film; he also ranked it in his top five all time favorite movies.
- Several character names are based on Swahili words:
Despite the fact that Zawadi is the Swahili word for gift, Nala's name does indeed also mean gift.
- Simba - lion
- Nala - gift
- Sarabi - mirage
- Rafiki - friend
- Pumbaa - simpleton/weak-minded
- Shenzi - barbarous/uncouth/uncivilized/savage
- Banzai - skulk/lurk
- Joe Pesci was offered to do the voice of Banzai or Timon, but turned both of the roles down due to schedule conflicts.
- Although all of the animals are obviously anthropomorphic in the film, hyenas (as the villainous characters) were most given the short end of the stick from the reality. In fact, spotted hyenas are considered the equal of lions in terms of intelligence and ferocity. They have an equally-intricate social structure and are less likely to kill their own kind than lions (hyena clan matriarchs allow very little intra-species aggression). Also, while hyenas are portrayed as nearly full scavengers, in reality lions scavenge the kills of hyenas as much as (if not more so) than hyenas scavenge lion kills. Shenzi's position as leader of the hyenas is very like that of real life- real spotted hyenas are matriarchal, and females dominate the males. For male hyenas to have any real power within a clan, they have usually performed longtime services for high-ranking females.
- Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella were originally cast as the hyenas Banzai and Shenzi (played by Whoopi Goldberg and Cheech Marin in the final film). The crew loved their performance and thought the duo would be even better as Timon and Pumbaa.
- This movie held the record for being the highest grossing animated film of all-time, until it was surpassed by Toy Story 3 in 2010, and then was surpassed by Frozen in 2013, both Disney movies. However, the film remains the highest grossing 2D animated movie of all-time.
- Jim Cummings (voice of Ed the Hyena in this film) had to fill in for Jeremy Irons for the finale of "Be Prepared." Irons threw out his voice after performing the line, "you won't get a sniff without me!" The rest of his recording didn't sound powerful enough.
- Virginia McKenna, Helen Mirren and Vanessa Redgrave were considered for the voice of Sarabi.
- There have been rumors that when Simba collapses on the cliff after talking with Timon and Pumbaa about stars, the dust that flies off the cliff forms the letters SEX. In fact it forms the letters SFX, the abbreviation of the special-effects team that worked on that portion of the film. For all subsequent releases more flowers and dust were added to the scene to avoid controversy.
- While recording the scene where Simba gets pinned down by Nala, Jonathan Taylor Thomas was hit on his back to make it sound like he had just gotten the wind knocked out of him.
- Frank Welker provided all the lion roars. Not a single recording of an actual lion roaring was used because the producers wanted specific sounding roars for each lion.
- The highest grossing movie of 1994 worldwide and the second highest in the U.S. behind Forrest Gump.
- A few weeks before the film opened, Elton John was given a special screening. Noticing that the film's love song had been left out, he successfully lobbied [?] Jeffrey Katzenberg to have the song put back in. Later, "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" won him an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
- In early drafts, Scar was a rogue lion with no relation to Mufasa. Eventually, however, the story writers thought relating him to Mufasa would be more interesting, a threat within. This is why Scar and Mufasa differ so much; they weren't originally designed to be related.
- The first Disney cartoon to be dubbed into Zulu for its African release.
- Unlike the other lions, Scar's claws are always displayed throughout the movie.
- The animators were so impressed with Jeremy Irons's performance that they worked Irons' features into Scar's face.
- When Pumba challenges the hyenas in the cave, he demands respect by angrily declaring, "They call me Mister Pig." This is a nod to Sidney Poitier's statement in In the Heat of the Night when, as detective Virgil Tibbs, he similarly demands respect.
- The team working on the movie was supposedly Disney's "team B," who were "kept busy" while "team A" worked on Pocahontas, on which the production had much higher hopes. As it turned out, The Lion King became a huge critical and commercial success, whereas Pocahontas met with mixed reviews and a much lower box office.