About two decades ago, June 15, 1994 to be precise, Disney created one of the most phenomenal Disney classics to ever grace the silver screen: The Lion King. Considered to be the crown jewel in the Disney Animation Classics Collection during its “Renaissance Era” – which started with The Little Mermaid and ended with Tarzan – The Lion King would become the most critically-acclaimed Disney film of all time… until Frozen, of course.
In celebration of this monumental occasion, people are now re-watching this beloved classic. Just remember the first time when chills shot down your spine during the opening sequence to The Circle of Life. Remember the tears you cried when Simba watched his father, Mufasa, fall to his death. Remember that intense scene when Simba ascends Pride Rock to take his place as the new king! It is all memorably classic, and after twenty years, it is still considered one of the best animated films of all time.
So how important is The Lion King? Well, IGN has compiled a list of some of the most important aspects that happened related or surrounding the film. A select few are listed below.
- The Lion King is the fourth feature animation was acknowledged as a viable business: Back in 1994, animation films were considered a commodity for children and families, meaning it wasn’t considered to be the backbone of income for most companies that did it. However, the Renaissance Era changed that and The Lion King was the fourth film to be fit into this model. The first three were of course The Little Mermaid, Beauty & The Beast, and Aladdin, and anyone who is anyone who knows Disney knows how good those films are.
- Imitation eventually led to other animation companies: Because of how successful The Lion King (Along with the previous three movies mentioned above), imitating the success of animation as true income back then was taken more seriously. This is also the time that other companies tried to capture what Disney now had down with four films. Contemporaries such as The Swan Princess and Thumbelina prove this. Nevertheless, after The Lion King, others companies tried to get a piece of that animation pie, but there are only two companies that are considered able to compete with Disney Animation Studios now and they are…
- Pixar and Dreamworks: Everyone knows the success these two animation studios has. Thanks to Pixar, we have Toy Story, Brave, and WALL-E. With Dreamworks, we have Shrek and the popular How to Train Your Dragon. These films from these studios have advanced the concept that animation can be a viable business prospect instead of a secondary asset to fill in the niche.
All in all, it is amazing that Disney’s crown jewel is still remembered and loved about two decades (in which some people will suddenly feel old hearing that). We are talking about a film coming from a studio that made the fifth highest-grossing film in the box office. We are also talking about a film that has pushed the envelope in theater design and production. Oh, and did I state that even animals can feel emotion watching The Lion King too?
To conclude this homage of an article, I will list five facts pertaining to The Lion King you may or may not know about. If the five listed below are interesting, you can read all of them at The Daily Beast.
- Pumbaa was the first Disney character to ever fart on screen.
- The Lion King was shafted by the “important people” on Disney’s creative team. They thought Pocahontas would do better because of its roots in history.
- Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella, who voiced Timon and Pumbaa, were picked because of their dynamic in Guys and Dolls, a Broadway play at the time both were in.
- Despite being based off the Shakespearean play Hamlet, this was Disney’s first original idea.
- James Earl Jones and Marge Sinclair voicing Mufasa and Sarabi is royal chemistry because they also played the king and queen in the movie, Coming to America starring Eddie Murphy.
[Images via Disney screencaps and poster from The Lion King]