To Serve Animals: Disney’s “The Lion King”

Disney’s Thirty-Second Animated Feature - 1994 (original release) 2011 (3D release) 
I have a confession to make: I’ve never been a huge fan of The Lion King. While it’s impossible not to get swept up in its beautiful animation, top-notch voice performances, and exciting story, the essential phoniness of animal life along with its celebration of adherence to royal bloodlines and “proper” succession to the throne has always irked me. A much earlier Disney classic about animals in nature, Bambi, was set in a world where animals speak and the owl is a friend to a rabbit; but on the whole, the story of Bambi set the deer in a recognizable, realistic world. The Lion King, on the other hand, is more a movie about a European royal family (pre-Renaissance) than it is about any group of animals.

But more importantly, in Bambi, the Great Prince of the forest earned his “title” by simply (and wisely) living the longest. He was a metaphorical prince, not a prince by birthright. Now consider this royal expression from nature: the lion is the king of the beasts; meaning he’s the top of the food chain, because lions are unforgiving killing machines. They are the predator to all, not the wise monarch to all. The Lion King fudges its central metaphor. 

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Maggie Hames is the Editor-In-Chief of Media Darlings, a blog that features reviews of all types of kid's media and events, including cinema, tv, apps, books, and music. 


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