There’s not a lot to say about The Lion King that I haven’t said before, so I won’t write another review. This is the fifth time I’ve seen the film on the big screen – three times on its original release (once as a school trip), once on the IMAX and now in 3D. The conversion was very nice, actually – the expected spectacular parts, like the opening shots of birds, the clouds coming together and Scar leaping out of the fire, were great in 3D, but there were more subtle parts, too: depth for Mufasa’s nose and muzzle; the steam in ‘Be Prepared’; foregrounded bones when Simba returned to the Pridelands. It suited 3D well enough for it to almost look like it was always meant to be that way.
I think certain parts have been cleaned up or added to, as well – the extreme close-up of Simba’s paw treading on the dead weed looked less fuzzy than it used to, though I’m not sure if that was also the case in the IMAX version. They certainly had the redrawn crocodiles, not the originals. On the other hand, I was pleased ‘The Morning Report’ was taken back out.
In lieu of anything much new to say, then, how about some trivia? Not things you can read everywhere, like dustcloud ‘SEX’, Sarafina’s name or nitpicking very convenient weather phenomena and ecosystem changes – just little personal observations.
• The last thing the young Simba says is ‘Slimy yet satisfying’. Adult Simba is introduced to us not with Matthew Broderick’s voice but by the guy hired just as the singing voice, Cam Clark (who would play him in the Timon and Pumbaa series and KH2). Broderick’s first dialogue begins with a belch, though whether he delivered it himself or not I cannot say.
• Scar carries on ‘I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts’ after Zazu stops: ‘Give ’em a twist/A flick of the wrist/That’s what the showman said.’
• When Simba and Nala step on either side of Zazu in a little stream during ‘I Just Can’t Wait to be King’, Nala puts her feet in the water. The next shot, they’re out of it again. It’s a trivial little continuity error I always notice.
• The hidden Mickeys are mostly very well-disguised in the film. The only one I always notice is on the red insect crawling away from Timon’s grasp when he puts his arm into the log.
• There’s a lot of hugging in this film. Adult lions mostly nuzzle, but characters with more obvious arms do a lot of embracing. Apart from more obvious ones like Timon and Pumbaa singing ‘If he falls in love tonight' or Rafiki’s hugs that bookend the film, Timon and Zazu hold one another in fear, as do Shenzi and Ed, and more devastatingly, Scar is quick to hug Simba as a cub – in his creepy-ironic way in their first scene together, and then to comfort him after his loss. That’s the part I find saddest of the entire scene, when Simba pushes his face against Scar’s leg for comfort. That’s just heartbreaking.
• Other than not just running when told to run (wanting to stick around for what? To be a pariah?), Scar’s biggest mistakes all come from his big mouth and need to gloat. Apart from his lie about the hyenas ultimately leading to his fate, twice he can just kill a vulnerable Simba, but twice he feels the need to talk – as a cub, just to mess with him and let others do his dirty work, and as an adult on the edge of the cliff, giving Simba the strength he needs to reverse the situation.
• Zazu appears to join in Timon and Pumbaa’s whooping just once, though it doesn’t sound like Atkinson made any noise.
• The last line of dialogue in the film is delivered by Mufasa. The two last lines are repeated from earlier in the film. Simba’s last line in the film is ‘And never return.’
• Beyond assumptions that may be made from the accents of the actors, which can include skin colour, religion and country of origin, we can tell the characters are aware of French accents, Bruce Lee films, drag and hulas, yoga-style meditation and genetics. And goose-stepping, of course. Typical 90s Disney humour that in my view works well.
There you have it, then. Just some facts and little observations I imagine most people will not have thought of.
And I was only going to write a few short notes too!