I love all things “Lion King”, from the story to the soundtrack to the art. The Lion King really is a masterpiece. Today, I get the special treat of reviewing the art book from Disney’s iconic 1994 film. All and all, I would also say that it is one of the best ‘Art Of’ books of any animated film.
Most contemporary art books are broken up into sections like Characters, Locations, and the “Making Of.” They have come to be more of a companion book to go along with the movie. The Art of The Lion King is a little different because it is very sequential. Starting from the unforgettable opening scene, as you flip through, it is like you are reliving the movie itself.
It broken up into 5 parts. The forward is by James Earl Jones and then goes into Acts One, Two, and Three, concluding with the “Afterword,” a section about 30 pages long detailing behind-the-scenes stories and the main people behind the film.
The book starts out with final key frames from the opening sequence. As the pages move on, it keeps your attention with a great mix of the final frames, story boards, concept art, and even excerpts from artists’ work books. It’s like walking through an art gallery. Every picture is chosen wisely and placed on the page with great care and purpose. With every page I felt like I was either learning more about the character or the animation that brought it all to life.
I love the way this book is laid out! Generally, it has one main focal point per page. Most of the time that focal point is larger and a variation of one of the more iconic images, which is then sometimes balanced by a few smaller pictures to the right or to the left that add interest and the desire to study each page. As seen above, even on pages where there is a lot to look at, color choices and lines help guide your eye to look at one place first, before you move on to see what else there is to discover.
I really enjoyed, author Christopher Finch’s writing style. He tells the story simply and doesn’t bring in too much text to take away from the art. He also knows how important the songs were in telling this story and lets the lyrics speak for themselves.
I feel like they way that it is broken up really shows the quality of storytelling and just how much of a masterpiece this movie was, not just for it’s time but all time. Every page, you get sucked in and remember what it was like the very first time you saw these iconic images.
After about 165 pages of story we finally move into what we love about art books. In the last 30 or so pages, Finch does a fantastic job of letting you know who the key players and crew members were. You learn of their thoughts and feelings and antics during the production. This includes the stories from their trip to Africa for research on design as well as techniques and challenges they faced back at home. It’s a mini history with the amount of details that would be expected on platinum level Blu-ray releases.
I give this book a perfect 5 stars! I was overwhelmed with the beauty and specific intent behind every page.
As I mentioned at the beginning, this is one of the best ‘Art Of’ books I have ever read. It’s going to be more expensive than other art books but, if you save up, you wont regret it.
Listen to our podcast on how much we love The Lion King!