Monday, September 26, 2011

Favorite Films: The Lion King

In 1994 something wonderful happened. Walt Disney Pictures released a film unlike anything they had ever done before. The scope of The Lion King is surprisingly large, it encompasses many years and manages to tug on more than a few heart strings. The characters are incredibly well thought out and add to an already entertaining story of intrigue, familial bond, and greater purpose. True, it is Hamlet... sort of. And yes it's made with a family mentality, but it still manages to get dark and violent at times: Scar is just a sick character and Jeremy Irons plays him to perfection.
I grew up on this movie. It was probably the most watched thing at my house during my Elementary years. Timon and Pumbaa, Zazu, Rafiki these are all the fun characters I used to wish were my friends. Mufasa is such a great father figure to the Simba we cannot help but identify with. Nala is amazing with a personality to match. And the Hyenas are just such fun, evil guys/girls.
But I can't just focus on the characters. Elton John, Tim Rice, and Hans Zimmer did an impressive job of soundscaping the feature. Somehow every musical number just feels perfect. I rewatched the 3D edition in theatres last week and couldn't stop singing along (So glad The Morning Report wasn't in this cut).

In that most recent viewing I discovered that Rowan Atkinson voiced Zazu... something I had never realized before. I had always been aware of the rest of the cast (it is star studded): Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Nathan Lane, Jeremy Irons, Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin, and Jonathan Taylor Thomas. But somehow I had missed Rowan Atkinson. Oh and Robert Guillaume... but I think he's more of a personal celebrity... like I love him from Sports Night, but here he just kills as Rafiki.

There's not much I can say that hasn't already been said. The Lion King is one of those perfect films. I could watch it today and get just as much out of it as I did as a child. If you get a chance to see it in theatres right now, I'm telling you it's worth a revisit. You've only got a week. Then the Blu-Ray comes out and believe me, I am excited for that.

The List So Far:
1927 - Metropolis - Fritz Lang
1928 - Steamboat Willie - Ub Iwerks
1931 - M - Fritz Lang
1932 - Tarzan, The Ape Man - W. S. Van Dyke
1933 - King Kong - Merian C. Cooper +
1934 - It Happened One Night - Frank Capra
1936 - Modern Times - Charles Chaplin
1957 - Funny Face - Stanley Donen
1966 - Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? - Mike Nichols
1982 - The Thing - John Carpenter
1984 - Brazil - Terry Gilliam
1986 - Labyrinth - Jim Henson
1994 - The Lion King - Roger Allers/Rob Minkoff

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