May 23, 2010

30 Days: Day 2 - Favorite Movie

My favorite movie, without a doubt, is The Lion King. Sure, I love Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Spaceballs, Howl's Moving Castle, and Sherk. I absolutely adore Jurassic Park. And I'm sure sometime in the future I will find another movie that has charmed me as much as WALL-E in order to add to my very short list of favorites out the 1000+ movies I've seen, but The Lion King will always be at the top.

 And then God showered light down from the heavens
and consumed all of Africa by Summoning Bigger Lion.

In the sixth month of 1994, Disney released it's 32nd animated feature, and Mufasa said, "This was good." Four years later Disney made a sequel, and Mufasa said, "Oh ell no." But that's less important because we're talking about THE LION KING. They used the opening musical number for their trailer, and people all around the world were peeing their pants because those few minutes were enough to show how awesome this movie was going to be. Forget explaining the plot, advertising Big Name Actors and a Big Name Musician, or combining all the good bits in one spoiler package-- the trailer didn't need that. The art, the music, and how these elements combined was enough to captivate and enthuse my wee little self sixteen years ago.

For those of you who somehow don't know about The Lion King despite it's fame, let me break it down for you. Darth Mufasa promises his entire kingdom of the African Savanna to his son, Simba. Or Kimba. Or Jimba TT if I'm going to go with the bad naming joke. Anyway, Darth M's brother is annoyed and kills him and convinces JTT that it's his fault, so JTT runs away and everyone thinks he's dead. So brother takes over and kills everything. Meanwhile, JTT has become a Man and befriended his dinner, a pig and a weasel cat. Eventually a hot lioness and monkey persuade JTT to return, he defeats his uncle, and then casts curaja with a might roar. It's Disney's version of Hamlet, to put it simply, but without Simba becoming crazypants like his father's younger Star Wars self and murdering everyone.

Most people criticize how closely it resembles Kimba the White Lion, a crappy Janime from 1960, and by closely resembles is that Kimba leaves his home and then returns later to save it. And his name is like "Simba." Oh yeah, totally the same story...if you completely ignore the fact that it involves human interference, environmentalism, and that sort of thing. But I'm talking about the finish product, pre-production of The Lion King was a bit different.

But The Lion King is basically everything I want from a movie, and the fact that it's animated proves the absolute power this film possess. Mufasa's death sparked some controversy, and I attribute that more to the ability the film had to connect to the audience on an emotional level. Manipulative? Perhaps, but that was the intent, the entire purpose of that scene, and we all fell into it without question because we were all so engrossed by this story of animated lions that we forgot they were lions. We forgot they were animated. We forgot it wasn't real, and yet we felt something very real.

Ignoring the sequels, this was properly followed up by the Big Damn Musical on Broadway that I was fortunate enough to see when they did their tour through Seattle last year. The movie is completely deserving, and the musical also deserving of the praise it has received thus far. I highly encourage everyone to see this!

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