A hero’s journey film review

The Lion King (1994) by Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff

The Lion King is a 1994 American animated epic musical drama film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The story takes place in a kingdom of lions in Africa, and was influenced by the Shakespeare play Hamlet. “The saga of Simba, which in its deeply buried origins owes something to Greek tragedy and certainly to ‘Hamlet’” (Ebert, 1994) The Lion King tells the story of Simba, a young lion who is to succeed his father, Mufasa, as king. However, after Simba's uncle Scar murders Mufasa, Simba is fooled by his uncle into thinking he was responsible and runs away into exile with the guilt of his father’s death on his shoulders. He’s found by Timon and Pumba who raise him. Simba meets Nala, his childhood friend once again and she informs him of the poor state of the pride and begs him to come back. At first he refuses to go back ashamed, until he is reminded by his father’s spirit of who he is. Simba returns to challenge Scar to end his tyranny. After a fierce battle, Simba throws his uncle off Pride Rock. Scar survives the fall, but is attacked and killed by the hyenas, who overheard his attempt to betray them. With Scar and the hyenas gone, Simba descends from the top of Pride Rock and takes over the kingdom as the rain falls again. Sometime later, Pride Rock is restored to its
Figure 1. The Lion King (1994)

former glory and Simba looks down happily at Figure 2. Mufasa's final moments (1994) his kingdom with Nala, Timon, and Pumbaa by his side; Rafiki presents Simba and Nala's newborn cub to the inhabitants of the Pride Lands and the "circle of life" continues. The film by most has been praised for its story line, characters and style such as by Hal Hinson “The Lion King is an impressive, almost daunting achievement, spectacular in a manner that has nearly become commonplace with Disney's feature-length animations.” (Hinson, 1994) However there are those critics that believe the film does not measure up to some of the other Disney animations. The staff at TV Guide criticized the song choice and

it’s ending saying that “this tale of a lion cub's coming of age in the African veldt offers a less memorable song score than did the previous hits, and a hasty, unsatisfying dramatic resolution.” (TV Guide, 1994) but they did then go on to praise The Lion King for the animation, and strong vocal performances. The Lion King is a hero’s journey film. Christopher Vogler contributed to the making of The Lion King although never claimed any credit. The film follows the hero’s journey outline which was started by Joseph Campbell but then slightly altered by Christopher Vogler. Figure 3 shows the hero’s journey diagram. Not every step is always in hero’s journey stories nor are they always in the same order. Below is my interpretation of The Lion King as a hero’s journey. Ordinary World- Simba’s birth, and his growth into a young cub. Meeting the Mentor- In this case this part in The Lion King happens before some of the others as his father, Mufasa is the mentor the one who teaches him about the pride, the circle of life, how to live and hunt and is idolised by Simba. Later on he is there to remind Simba who he is. Crossing the threshold- Simba ventures into the Elephant graveyard to prove that he is worth of being king. Ordeal, Death & Rebirth- His father is killed by his uncle Scar but it is led to Figure 3. The Hero's Journey (1985) believe it is his own fault. Tests, Allies, Enemies- Simba is chased out of the pride lands by the hyenas after his father’s death. He’s found by Timon and Pumba who become his friends and allies. The Call to Adventure- Simba meets Nala once again this time as an adult and she informs him on how scar and the hyenas have taken over. Nala asks Simba to come back and reclaim the throne. Refusal of the call- With the guilt of his father’s death heavy on his shoulders Simba is to ashamed to go back. Supernatural Aid- Rafiki the baboon has Simba look at his reflection. At first he only sees himself but then realizes he has his father within him. Rafiki then has Mufasa appear to Simba in the sky. Mufasa says that Simba is not living up to who he is supposed to be causing Simba to realize that he must take responsibility for what has happened and that he must go save Pride Rock from further disaster.

The Road back- Simba leave the paradise he has grown up in and returnes to a changed pride rock. Resurrection- Simba faces his fears and returns to pride rock, he claims responsibility for his father’s death. The truth of his father’s death is revealed to him and he fights and defeats Scar. He is accepted by the pride, and you can see how Simba has grown and matured. Return with the Elixir- Pride rock goes back to normal, Simba and Nala marry and have a cub of their own, showing the continuation of the circle of life.

List of illustration
Figure 1. The Lion King (1994) [Poster] At: http://disneyancesters.webs.com/thelionking.htm Figure 2. Mufasa’s Final moments (1994) At: http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Mufasa

Figure 3. Vogler, Christopher (1985) A hero’s journey diagram In: Hero’s Journey [Diagram] At: http://www.thewritersjourney.com/hero's_journey.htm Bibliography Ebert, Roger. (1994) The Lion King In: Wayback Machine [Online] http://web.archive.org/web/20051114100506/http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs. dll/article?AID=/19940624/REVIEWS/406240301/1023 Hinson, Hal. (1994) The Lion King In: The Washington Post [Online] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/review96/lionkinghin.htm TV Guide. (1994) The Lion King: Review In: TV Guide [Online] http://movies.tvguide.com/lion-king/review/129956

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful