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139. The Lion King (#45)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Phil Bagnall and Graham Day, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every Saturday at 6pm GMT.

This time, Rob Minkoff and Roger Allers’ The Lion King.

The Pridelands have enjoyed a period of sustained peace under the stewardship of the proud king Mustafa. However, Mustafa’s young son Simba finds himself embarking upon a journey of self-discovery and adventure as he learns just how fragile happiness can be and just how heavy responsibilities can weigh upon a king.

At time of recording, it was ranked 45th on the Internet Movie Database‘s list of the best movies of all-time.

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Non-Review Review: The Lion King

You said you’d always be there for me! … But you’re not.

– Simba rages at the heavens

The Lion King is my favourite Disney film. I don’t know if I could argue that it’s objectively the best or anything like that, as I imagine that there are a lot of external factors that contribute to making a person’s favourite Disney films – most of which are matters of timing, with the film appearing at “just the right time”, to borrow a cliché. I was seven years old when the film was first released, but I don’t believe that I saw it in the cinema (hence my trip to the cinema to see it on re-release), so perhaps I was eight or nine when I first caught Disney’s adaptation of Hamlet. It’s a dodgy proposition revisiting something you loved as a child, as there’s a risk that the finished product won’t quite live up to your memories of it – perhaps because you say it differently through younger eyes, or because time has marched on, or because you’ve become too cynical. So, I was taking a considerable risk as the theatre went dark, wondering if perhaps I had made a mistake.

I hadn’t. Sometimes some things areas good as you remember them.

"The fault, dear Simba, lies not in our stars... but in ourselves..."

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Re-Release Me… Let Me Go… Hollywood and Re-Releases…

So, yep. It’s a bad time for the US box office. The Lion King, a movie first released in 1994, managed to hold on to the number one spot at the top of the charts for two whole weeks, and ranking higher than any new release in its third week. If anything, the major movie studios have been very quick to jump on any trend that offers even the slightest hint of a money-making opportunity. It’s a trend one can easily see from the way that Hollywood pursues ideas. After Harry Potter was a breakout hit, every studio in town was looking for a young adult franchise to adapt to the big screen. After The Dark Knight, it became customary to plan for the superhero sequel before the original even hit theatres. It’s a trend even more obvious with technological gimmicks. After Christopher Nolan proved that you could make money in Imax, it seemed every other movie was being released in the format (even if it didn’t warrant it). Avatar led to a wave of 3D releases, which seemed to be growing old fast. So the success of a film originally released nearly two decades ago in the cinema, remastered in 3D, is pretty much assured to be the next big thing.

I'd be lion if I didn't admit I want to see it...

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Chorus Lion: The Musical Magic of the Lion King…

Thanks to the ever wonderful Andrew who is running a mini-blogothon event this weekend. I’m delighted to have been asked to take part, and I’m sure there are some interesting choices being made.

When you mention “musical”, is it a cheat to think “Disney”? I’m not really sure. I mean, I could point to any number of iconic and important live-action musicals. The Wizard of Oz is perhaps the most enduring of these, but they run the gauntlet from quirky indie numbers like Romance & Cigarettes to bona fides Oscar winners like Chicago. There’s ones that have transitioned from stage to screen and those who have gone from cinema to theatre. However, for me, it has to be a Disney film. And not just because they own a monopoly on my childhood. And, if it’s going to be a Disney film, it has to be The Lion King.

Pride and joy...

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