A film that has developed into a classic due to its storyline and music over the years received a retouch this year – Disney’s ‘‘The Lion King’’.
Review. 25 years ago the first film from the Lion King trilogy appeared in cinemas. Now the story of the lions has been adapted as a live action film by Jon Favreau („The Jungle Book“) and Jeff Nathanson (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”). For fans of the Disney franchise, this should be a dream come true. In 2016 Walt Disney Pictures announced the making of ‘‘The Lion King’’ and presented a famous cast voicing the beloved characters. Mufasa’s original voice (James Earl Jones) or Oscar winner Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar are highly decorated actors. Due to the importance of music in the movie, the singers Beyoncé and Childish Gambino got the roles of adult Nala and Simba. In contrast to the original from 1994, where black artists sang the songs but did not synchronise the characters, it seems to be very important for the producers that this time the movie consists almost completely of an Afro-American cast. However, the music that originally took you into a colourful world hardly plays a role in the remake. Through the naturalistic representation of the animals, the colourful variety from the original seems somewhat lost. Not only the colours seem bland but also the characters’ emotions. In three decisive scenes, the cats appear rigid and emotions only arise through the voices, which removes the atmospheric mood shown in the orginal movie, for example in the scene of (attention SPOILER) Mufasa‘s death. Nevertheless the graphic animation is extremely authentic, fascinating and looks very real, maybe even too authentic.
Disney’s “The Lion King” is not only known for its colourful pictures but also for its music. The famous songs, which are played and loved in musicals all over the world, got a small update and are still unmistakable, though the question arises whether the musicians were cast correctly. For example Childish Gambino’s voice seems small next to Beyoncé‘s. Maybe an artist who‘s more of a singer than a rapper would have been a better choice, like Bruno Mars.
What Disney did with this movie will probably not appeal to fans of the original. It is obvious that the factory of the magical has reached the end of its creativity and is trying to flush money into the coffers with remakes. And even if the pictures are fascinating, the story still carries you away and the music makes you reminisce, all in all it looks like a calculated Oscar. And speaking of the movie awards which will take place in February: The title song of the remake (Beyoncé’s “Spirit“ which replaces “Circle of Life“ from Elton John) is a song that does not really fit the movie. Although it has a motivating effect on the film, there are still better songs on Beyoncé’s alternative soundtrack, which is not the official soundtrack to Disney’s “The Lion King“, that could have been used for the movie. The song itself does not seem worthy of a “Queen Bey“ and sounds very tiring. Nevertheless, the album “The Gift“ is a homage to Africa with artists who are not yet known outside the Afrosound and can now be heard outside the community.
For fans of the original, you can safely wait until the film is released on DVD and listen to “The Gift“ in the
meantime because even though the pictures are beautiful, in some places it looks more like a documentary on National Geographic than Disney’s ‘‘The Lion King’’.