Welcome to pump-up week! This week is Animation Addicts Podcast episode will be on The Lion King! All week long, the Rotoscopers’ team will be celebrating this iconic Disney film through opinion articles about the film to get everyone prepared for the new episode.
If you HAD to choose the best Disney movie, which one would you choose?
I bet most of us would either pick Beauty and the Beast or, my personal favorite, The Lion King. The story of Simba is Disney at its best. There are plenty of reasons why this movie is considered one of the greatest animated movies of all time. But besides the grand scale of the tale, the beautiful African landscapes and the childhood-defining music, I feel there are important aspects that make the movie stand above others. Here are some of them!
Last week, I wrote an opinion piece asking for Animated Dramas. I think The Lion King is the closest Disney has ever gotten to an animated drama, in spite of featuring a meerkat that dances the hula. This movie has one of the saddest, darkest moments in the studio’s history (Mufasa’s death) and one of the best fight scenes I’ve seen in animation. I can’t think of a better Protagonist/Antagonist confrontation than Simba’s fight with Scar in any of the Disney movies.
Also, you could say the movie is about a son who thinks he murdered his father and decides to run away from his guilt and his mistakes. That could very well be the logline of an Oscar-bait movie. Simba is an incredibly complex characters and that makes the movie so much better. And the fact he goes back to the Pride Lands even when he still thinks Mufasa’s death is his fault is such a powerful moment.
But my favorite thing about this movie is the antagonists. No, I don’t mean Scar and the hyenas. I mean Timon and Pumba.
You see, Michael Arndt, who wrote Toy Story 3 and made all of us cry, says that good movies usually have physical stakes (there’s a million hyenas trying to eat our heroes!), emotional stakes (Simba thinks he killed Mufasa and is running away from that) and philosophical stakes (Should you run away from trouble or face it?). Since the movie ends with Simba owning up to his mistakes and becoming a responsible Lion King, one of the major themes is responsibility.
You know what characters represent the exact opposite? Here’s a clue. Although Scar is a great villain (and has my favorite villain song), the movie features two characters we LOVE and who represent everything Simba doesn’t need. And that just makes the movie so much better. Because we love and agree with the philosophical antagonists of the movie, it adds a level of complexity that not many movies, live-action or animated, have.
For years and years I tried to live with Hakuna Matata as my mantra. I tried to never worry. I avoided confrontation. Then, a few years ago, I saw the movie again and I realized that the whole ending of the movie is saying that lifestyle isn’t good for you. And I realized that you must have worries. You need to face your problems and your mistakes.
That’s another thing. These are such amazing themes for a movie to have. It teaches you about bravery and responsibility while making you laugh and cry and laugh. Many Disney movies make you laugh and cry. But none hit you with the ferocity that Mufasa’s death has. No other Disney movie has such interesting, hilarious sidekicks. The characters, the setting, the songs, the layers to the story…it all adds up to one of Disney’s greatest movies.
Do you think The Lion King is Disney’s greatest? Or you don’t even think it’s the best Renaissance movie?