Title: The Lion King
Release Date: June 24, 1994
Director: Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff
Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures | Walt Disney Feature Animation
I first saw The Lion King in the movie theaters with a group of college friends and we all had an enjoyable time and loved the movie. Oddly, I didn’t see another Disney animated film in the theaters until Moana 22 years later (although I did see plenty of Pixar films).
The Lion King draws upon Shakespeare’s Hamlet (and possibly a Japanese anime series) for inspiration, but this is the first Disney animated feature that’s not an adaptation of another work and I think it was very freeing for the creators. They were able to create a universe within the wilderness of Africa to tell a story of love, betrayal, and redemption. And I think this may also be the first Disney movie with no human characters.
The opening scene with Simba’s presentation is perhaps the most awe-inspiring animation Disney has ever created. And having it all end with a dramatic sting and the movie’s title is a bold choice before beginning the movie proper. The Lion King strikes the right balance of humor, drama, romance, and adventure. And the music drawing on African traditions is amazing. Elton John as composer was an odd choice (and the beginning of a trend of pop artists composing soundtracks for animated movies), but even if his songs do get a little cheezy at times they are definitely memorable.
The Lion King is a great film that I believe will continue to reward viewings for quite some time.