Movie: The Lion King
Release Date: June 15, 1994
Director: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff.
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Moira Kelly, Niketa Calami, Ernie Sabella, Nathan Lane, Robert Guillaume, Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin, Jim Cummings, Madge Sinclair.
Tag Lines: “The greatest adventure of all is finding our place in the circle of life.”
“The Circle of Life.”
Relevance: We have reached another milestone on my blog, my favorite animated movie of all time. If you have been keeping up with this list and have read every entry, especially ‘Aladdin’ (see 28. Aladdin), you probably already knew that it was ‘The Lion King.’ ‘The Lion King’ was released in the summer of 1994 to huge critical acclaim. It was also a huge success at the box office eventually becoming the highest grossing film of that year, the highest grossing animated film and the highest grossing traditionally animated film of all time. Thanks to ‘Aladdin,’ I was in my “Disney” phase and was one of those eager box office attendees at the theater during its opening weekend.
The trailer to ‘The Lion King’ was literally the first four minutes of the movie. Once I saw it, I knew my love affair with Disney wasn’t going away any time soon. The opening sequence to the film, and its trailer, were absolutely beautifully both visually and musically. I can’t remember exactly when or where I saw the trailer for the first time, but as soon as I did I became obsessed. By that time I was a fan of Elton John’s music, but not necessarily the man. Personally, I think he’s kind of a douche. With that said, his catalogue of music is one of the best in the business and I adore many of his classic hits. Hearing “The Circle of Life” in that trailer continued my admiration of his talent. I just adored that song and every time I got to see the trailer, I became more and more excited for the actual movie.
The soundtrack to the ‘The Lion King’ was released in May of 1994 and like its predecessor, I went out immediately to my local music store to buy it on CD. Again, I didn’t care that at age twenty-three I was purchasing a soundtrack to a kid’s movie. I liked what I liked. By that time, they had already released the first official single from the movie, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” The single version, sung by Elton John, was receiving a lot of radio airplay and it eventually became a top five hit on the Billboard Charts in the United States. I was very eager to hear the movie version as well as all of the other songs and music from the film. Once again, similar to ‘Aladdin,’ I listened to the soundtrack over and over again those few weeks leading up to the movie’s release. And apparently I wasn’t alone. The album topped the Billboard Album Charts in the United States and eventually went ten times platinum becoming the biggest-selling soundtrack ever from an animated film.
Finally the time had arrived to see ‘The Lion King’ on the big screen. I went with my then girlfriend/future wife/future ex-wife on its opening weekend. I knew that I was going to love the movie, but I was pretty sure I was not going to be as entertained as I was with ‘Aladdin.’ I could not have been more wrong. Visually, the film was gorgeous. The animation was breathtaking and beautiful to look at. The Shakespearean tinged story was also very strong, filled with heartbreak, adventure and lots of humor. The music and score were equally impressive. It was a treat for all the senses, and I ate it all up. I left the theater knowing that I had just seen an animated masterpiece.
My love for ‘The Lion King’ lasted the rest of the summer and year. Its music stayed in heavy rotation at my house and I rooted for the film at every awards ceremony. I talked about the movie incessantly with friends and family and couldn’t wait to see the film again. When ‘The Lion King’ was eventually released to home media, I made sure that I got a copy of the VHS. I finished up my second year of Graduate School watching Simba and Nala fall in love and Timon and Pumbaa crack each other up over and over again. There was something about this animated movie that touched my heart as well as entertained me. I absolutely treasured it.
‘The Lion King’ has never been topped in my opinion when it comes to animated feature films, it was Disney’s crowning achievement. I eventually purchased the DVD as well as the Special Edition DVD. I have watched and owned all of its sequels and saw the glorious Broadway production on stage, an even more impressive work of art for the senses. I have never grown tired of this film and one that I have shared with my son over the years. It’s one of those rare films that we actually agree on and both love, although he will say that ‘The Lion King 1 1/2’ is a better movie. For me, it is all about the original and its a movie that firmly stands not only in my top twenty favorite movies of all time, but in my humble opinion the best animated movie ever made.
Today’s Thoughts: “What do you want me to do, dress in drag and do the hula?”
Home alone yet again, I was able to watch ‘The Lion King’ very loudly in my living room today without distraction. I love this movie and even at forty-nine am not embarrassed that it is a movie intended for kids. Regardless of my age, I am a kid at heart. Also, a good movie is a good movie and ‘The Lion King’ just so happens to be great.
Those first four minutes are still so impressively beautiful to watch. It’s just so regal and triumphant. I love every second of it. The rest of the movie is still as entertaining as ever as well. The voice cast is one of the best. Matthew Broderick, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Moira Kelly, Niketa Calami, Ernie Sabella, Nathan Lane, Robert Guillaume, Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin, Jim Cummings and Madge Sinclair add so much to their characters it makes it very difficult not to fall in love with them. Even the villains. There are so many now iconic moments in the movie, but if I had to pick a favorite it would have to be the hula scene. It makes me laugh out loud every single time.
‘The Lion King’ is an animated masterpiece and one that should be watched by everyone of all ages. It really is a remarkable film. I recently watched the live action version and thought I was going to love it just as much, and I was wrong. I was extremely disappointed. My take on it is that once you reach perfection, there is no need to add to it. And ‘The Lion King’ is perfection.
Awards: Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” Elton John, Tim Rice (winner), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Score, Hans Zimmer (winner), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song, “Circle of Life,” Elton John, Tim Rice (nomination), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song, “Hakuna Matata,” Elton John, Tim Rice (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (winner), Golden Globe for Best Original Song – Motion Picture, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” Elton John, Tim Rice (winner), Golden Globe for Best Original Score – Motion Picture, Hans Zimmer (winner), Golden Globe for Best Original Song – Motion Picture, “Circle of Life,” Elton John, Tim Rice (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Film Music, Hans Zimmer (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Sound, Terry Porter, Mel Metcalfe, David Hudson, Doc Cane (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Animation, Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff (winner), National Board of Review Award for Best Animation (winner), National Film Registry (2016).
Ways to Watch: Disney+, Vudu, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play, Amazon Prime, DVD Availability.