I know some might not like to hear me admit this, but the character of Simba kind of gets me annoyed in The Lion King. Yes, I know he's young and foolish at the start, but when he brags and taunts Scar, he spurs the villainous lion into his treachery. When he sings "I Just Can't Wait to Be King," he's not realizing what has to happen for him to be king. When Mufasa is killed, only a moron would believe what Scar is able to convince him of. And yes, I know, that's part of the story arc -- that Simba must mature and get a clue before he is worthy of his kingdom.

But the film has never fully convinced me that Simba truly reaches that point. It actually seems that Simba's ascent is more due to the efforts of Timon, Pumbaa, Rafiki, Sarabi, Nala and the ghost of Mufasa. Yet he gets to be king anyway. Maybe my perspective is tainted by some real-life business politics, but I've never been able to shake this feeling, at least until The Lion King 1 1/2, when Simba actually acknowledges and thanks Timon and Pumbaa. (The Broadway show also was able to allow Simba's character more introspection that isn't possible in the format of an animated film.)

Don't get me wrong. The Lion King is a masterwork and a landmark Disney animated film, a perfect storm of talent and artistry that continues to command awe from the public, even recently in its 3-D release.

What makes The Lion King even more amazing is how close it came to never happening, or at least faltering along the way. A candid, revelatory bonus feature, which is included on both the Blu-ray and the DVD (unlike the commentary and many other features which are exclusive to the Blu-ray), Producer Don Hahn narrates the story of the film from his perspective. During most of its production, The Lion King was considered "the lesser project" next to Pocahontas, it went through several personnel changes and backstage angst, and the filmmakers were concerned that the public would reject the movie--right up to the first release date.

That's why such bonus material is so valuable and important. This knowledge serves to make me appreciate The Lion King even more, even if Simba gets my goat a little. (Of course, if really he did get my goat, it would little more than a snack, wouldn't it?)


Special offer
Now through 1/31/12, Disney Movie Club is offering a limited edition 3-pin set with the purchase of any Diamond Edition of The Lion King.

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