Mari Ness analyzes “The Lion King”

My opinion: Very pretty movie, some nice animation, love the setting, some of the songs are fine. Not quite clear on why prey animals are so super-excited at the birth of a predator, but okay.

Not okay, actually. That’s ridiculous.

The bad guy is the uncle? Really?

The hyenas starve without lions to be the boss and I guess hunt for them and so on? Really? ???!!?? Way to reinforce a completely false picture of hyenas as scavengers, when they are way more effective predators than lions.

But moving on to the actual themes of a human story being told with animal characters:

What an appalling abdication of responsibility, and it takes your girlfriend showing up to make you realize you have blown off everything important? UGH.

So, well, I realize everyone else loved this movie, but I was rather hoping Ness would take it apart a little, though I didn’t expect her to hit quite the same reasons I didn’t like it.

Here is Mari Ness:

How exactly did this ritual of allowing a mandrill to dangle a small baby lion off the edge of a cliff develop? And speaking of this mandrill, when, exactly, did he learn martial arts, and who, exactly, taught him? Are the animals in “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” singing along in the hopes that if they do, they won’t get eaten, or because they, too, kinda side with Scar on the “Get Rid of Mufasa” thing and figure that a cute little lion cub has got to be better than a king who forces them to bow down to the lion cub that’s going to eat them? What is the anteater doing in that scene? How, in the barren land that Scar created out of Pride Rock, did Timon find enough grass to make a grass skirt and do the hulu? Or does Timon just carry long blades of grass around for just that sort of emergency? Can a little lion like Simba really grow to full size on a diet of bugs? What’s with this desert that appears between the Pride Lands and where Timon and Puumba live? Why does not one lion ask Scar for proof that little Simba is dead?

And bigger questions: Why, exactly, in a film about taking personal responsibility seriously, is one of its most memorable songs—Hakuna Matata—all about avoiding that responsibility? It’s the African savannah—where are the leopards and cheetahs? (Actually, I do know the answer to that one—”cut from the script.”) And finally, how did Scar get all of the minor volcanic eruptions to explode on cue like that during his song, not to mention getting a pillar of stone to lift him to the sky at the appropriate moment?

Though I applauded everything in these paragraphs and invite you all to click through and read the entire post, I will admit that my very, very favorite tidbit is the admittedly trivial complaint about the anteaters. I though I was the ONLY PERSON EVER to notice the out-of-place anteaters, which are not an African species (giant anteaters are South American).

Anyway. I will admit the Broadway show was actually very impressive, even if I still thoroughly disliked the plot and most of the characters. But for Disney movies, this is always going to rank near the bottom for me.

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2 thoughts on “Mari Ness analyzes “The Lion King””

  1. I know I saw The Lion King as a child, but I don’t remember thinking much of it. Aladdin and The Little Mermaid made a much bigger impression on young me.

  2. Mari Ness’s analysese are what draw me to regularly check
    I thought the movie sounded silly – prey celebrating a new predator? – and never saw it.

    I like the Circle of Life, song, though, especially the re-do as Surface of Light by the guy who does A Capella Science on youtube.

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