Monday, March 31, 2014

Why The Lion King is the Best Disney Movie by Sydney Quanz

First...... I think it should be noted that this is post #100!! Happy 100th Post Anniversary, Quirk!

When I was two years old, I was in love with The Lion King. Intensely obsessed, I watched it nearly every day. It was my favorite. My mom tells a story about how our VCR tape of the disney classic broke, and she searched everywhere to find it. eventually she discovered that Disney had put the beloved classic into the vault and it was no where to be found. Eventually, a friend of my Dad's found one for us, and the issue was solved. I lived to watch The Lion King another day.

Unfortunately, not much has changed. I scrambled to see the 3D release a couple years ago and yes, I cried at the beginning - and at the end. When I feel sad, I listen to the "King of Pride Rock" score and usually get chills. I quote it so much, that somethings I just say I don't realize are from the movie till I watch it again. I can nearly recite the script. Its unhealthy. I am constantly faced with the struggle that comes with showing it to other children. I will bring it when I babysit sometimes, and it is appalling how many kids tell me that its "boring" or "scary". This frustrating new generation doesn't know a good thing when they see it.
However, apart from by obsession with it, I do think that the Lion King is the best Disney Movie to ever grace the cinema for the following reasons.

1. The Villain Song: "Be Prepared"

This is arguably my favorite song in the entire movie, although I wasn't allowed to watch it for most of my childhood because it was "evil". But upon my middle school years, I googled the lyrics, found a youtube clip and learned the song by heart. "Be Prepared" is hilarious and the jokes are made with intelligent wit that I have yet to find elsewhere. For example here is the second verse:

Hyenas: "It's great that we'll soon be connected
              With a king who'll be all-time adored
Scar:     Of course, quid pro quo, you're expected
             To take certain duties on board
             The future is littered with prizes
             And though I'm the main addressee
            The point that I must emphasize is
            You won't get a sniff without me!"

Its so.....evil. But yet it is phrased with all the tact of a royal seeking for revenge, or a politician slyly crafting his speech. Somehow Scar manages to convince the Hyenas that helping him will be in their own interest, its an opportunity to rise from their low standing in society that they can't pass up. Also, its worth mentioning that the chorus of Hyenas in the background of the end of the song is these lyrics here:

"We'll have food
Lots of Food
We repeat
Endless meat"

2. The Princess

Not everyone considers Nala a disney princess, mostly because she is a lion and doesn't where a dress or do your typical princess things. However, I think Nala is the best of the princesses (closely followed by Mulan of course). Nala is a strong lioness, she can take care of herself, and doesn't succumb to leadership easily. She was the only one brave enough to go searching for help, and she she did she took down a full grown male lion on her own, which is quite impressive. Furthermore, in the original storyline of The Lion King, Scar tried to make Nala his queen before she went in search of help, and instead of falling prey to Scar and his will she stood up for herself.

Nala supports Simba, she see's him for the King that he really is, even when he can't see it himself. She encourages him to live up to his full potential and ultimately make him a better person. Even in the moment where she though that he was responsible for the death of his own father, she didn't turn on him. Nala is a fighter and a leader, more independent than any of the other female disney heroines.

3. Mufasa's Death

The saddest disney death is the death of Mufasa, hands down, no argument. Mufasa is a father figure for all of us, being voiced by the most famous father of all, Darth Vader. More than that however, he was everything samba aspired to be, everything he looked up to and over all he just made a great dad. His death, not by some type of accident, but by his sacrifice to save his son, is beautiful; it is oddly similar to the death of the Son of God to save us, despite our rebellious nature and flawed existence. 

What makes this so heartbreaking largely comes front he fact that Simba, a young reckless child, believe that it was his fault. As he lays next to his fathers dead body, pleading with him to wake up, its impossible not to feel something, or to shed a tear.

4. Timon and Pumba

Now to everyones favorite characters, the duo that raises Simba from a young cub to a rebellious adult. Originally, the voice actors for these two were cast as the hyenas: Shenzia and Bonzai, but the directors were so impressed with their performance that they recast them as Timon and Pumba. 

Timon and Pumba are lovable outcast, who live a bit of an alternative lifestyle in an african oasis. What makes this comedy duo so effective is that Pumba is so insecure about himself that even though his suggestions are right, they are constantly shot down by a more imaginative, false explanation by his more confident counter part. My favorite exchange between them in the movie:

Pumba: Timon?
Timon: Yeah?
Pumba: Ever wonder what those sparkling dots are up there?
Timon: Pumba, I don't wonder, I know.
Pumba: Oh, what are they?
Timon: They're fireflies. That, uh, got stuck up in that big blueish black thing
Pumba: Oh. Gee. I always though they were balls of gas burning millions of miles away.
Timon: Pumba, with you everything's gas.

5. The Minor Characters

Somehow, The Lion King magaes to include a large amount of characters, but they are charming and lovable. Each play a part in Simba's journey and whether their part is large or small they capture our hearts. Here are just a few:

Zazu is the King's majordomo. Carrying news, keeping things in line, He is fundamental to the ruling of the empire. Due to his particular nature he becomes a bit of a joke, and is strikingly similar to Sebastian from the Little Mermaid.  Favorite Line: "The cheetahs are rather hard up but as I alway say, Cheetahs never prosper."

Shenzi is the leader of her trio of bandit hyenas. She is fierce and controlled balancing out the blind passion of Bonzai and the mute Ed. She is full of one liners and some pretty menacing threats. Favorite Line:
Shenzi: Whats the hurry? We'd love for you to stick around for dinner.
Bonzai: Yeah... we could have whatevers "lion" around.
Shenzie: Oh I got one, I got one, make mine a cub sandwich, watchya think?

Raffiki is the baboon Shameman of the tribe. He's a bit insane, but he holds up the spiritual part of the story, reminding Simba of his father and ultimately his destiny.  He is crazy and wise all at once, prancing around singing nonsense but also professing some incredible truths about the circle of life. Favorite Line: 
Raffiki: It doesn't matter, its in the past
Simba: Yea but it still hurts
Raffiki: Yes sometimes the past can hurt, but you can either run from it or learn from it.

6. Simba

Simba is young, he's reckless, he's flawed and he makes a lot of mistakes. He gets caught up in something bigger than himself and he run from his past. In several ways, he is like us. We mess up and we get scared and sometimes we run away. We believe lies about our life, we hold onto things that aren't ours to hold and it keeps us from reaching our true potential. However, just like Simba we are destined for more, and by facing our past, our demons and our mistakes, we can overcome them. Through that victory, we find our selves suited for the life we have been wanting our entire existence, but only through the journey are we truly prepared for it. Then we take our place in the circle of life, where we belong. 

The story is deep, powerful and moving. The hero is relatable. The song are intelligent the characters are charming and strong. Lion King remind us that everything in this life is beautiful. From the mistakes to the triumphs, the small people and the big ones, we all play a role in the circle of life, if only we have the courage to take it.

"Remember who you are. You are my son, an the one true King."

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