Monday, June 16, 2014


“Hakuna Matata!”

This month marks the 20th anniversary of Disney’s THE LION KING. 

Development on THE LION KING began as far back as 1988, when Disney bosses Jeffrey Katzenberg, Roy E. Disney (son of Walt), and Peter Schneider began tossing around ideas of a story about a young lion born to succeed his father. Although THE LION KING was to be Disney’s first animated film based on an original idea, the storyline was heavily influenced by the biblical tales of Joseph and Moses, and William Shakespeare’s HAMLET. The film would attract Disney’s top animators, with many of them travelling to Kenya to research the animals and the place-setting. The script went through many authors and re-writes, with lyricist Tim Rice working closely with the writers…to ensure that his lyrics would work in the film’s narrative. 

The voice actors were chosen not for their big names, but for how they would fit into and add to the characters. James Earl Jones was cast because the directors (Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff) felt his voice was similar to a lion’s roar. The rest of the casting was stellar; Matthew Broderick, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Jeremy Irons, Moira Kelly, Nathan Lane, Robert Guillaume, Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin, and Jim Cummings all contributed to the success of THE LION KING. 

And succeed, it did. THE LION KING was the highest grossing film of 1994, and its 3D release in 2011 would elevate it to the highest-grossing hand-drawn film in history, and the 19th highest grossing film of all time. It would win an Oscar for Hans Zimmer’s original score, and Elton John and Tim Rice would also win for Best Original Song. THE LION KING would also win Best Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy and Best Original Score at the Golden Globes that year. The American Film Institute ranks it fourth all-time in the animation genre. THE LION KING would have an enduring legacy; it would go on to inspire a Broadway adaptation, two direct-to-video follow-ups, a prequel, and an animated TV series. 


Years ago, this Blogger used to work with a very smart chap who would occasionally watch the opening sequence of THE LION KING before coming to work. The stunning and exhilarating opening sequence was a powerful and emotionally moving piece of filmmaking which could inspire anyone to awaken from a slumber. But what really makes THE LION KING work so well is that it has a familiar, yet fresh story. Characters are relatable; each one of them going through something that each and every one of us has lived through at one time or another. THE LION KING was very much in tune with life’s circle then, and it still is now. If the opening scene doesn’t inspire you to be who you really are, then the rest of the film will. 

“You are more than what you have become.”

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