Original Lion King VS 2019 Lion King

  • Editorials
Pearl D. ('23)

As a kid whose favourite film was the animated Lion King, when I heard that Disney was releasing a remodelled version, I was beyond ecstatic. The original film premiered in 1944 and is an animation following the adventures of the protagonist Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas), his father Mufasa (James Earl Jones), and evil uncle Scar (Jeremy Irons). Over the past couple of years, Disney has come out with remakes of animations, from The Jungle Book to Beauty and the Beast, to this summer’s Aladign, I couldn’t wait to see how the new Lion King would be like - whether the storyline would be the same/ whether there would be many changes and or similarities to the original film. 


This summer, I had the pleasure of watching the 2019 Lion King in the theater. Although I had already watched the original, I noticed that there were some differences and similarities between the two films. When comparing the two films, there’s a major difference between the visuals in the original and new versions movie. The film that premiered in 1994 is an animation, where the characters are cartoons and not realistic, whereas the 2019 film is live-action. Although the newest versions’ animals are realistic, the film is an animation, the visuals have been upgraded using a computer-generator.


An obvious similarity between the two films is that the majority of the storyline remained the same - a young lion named Simba, who looks up to his father the King, as he waits for his time to rule the African Plains as the next heir. However, not everyone is pleased by the plan, especially his evil uncle Mufassa. And after nearly two and a half decades, Disney released a remake of the original film that has the original storyline. My initial thoughts to the remake were: “Why bother attempt this in the first place when the storyline is already out?” According to Gizmodo, the director Jon Favreau assembled a film crew in an attempt to remake the African Plains using a computer generator, captured by virtual reality without using any cameras or actors. Thus, making the goal to remake the original film, keep it traditional, yet make it photorealistic and live-action. 


In spite of the storyline remaining the same, there have been certain changes between the original and live-action in terms of characterization. An example of this is with one of the songs in the original, “Be Prepared,” sang by Scar, the evil uncle. Despite the fact that it was rumoured that this song would be cut, it wasn’t, but slightly changed. The producer wanted to make Scar more menacing and threatening. They did so by tweaking the song and removing parts of the song where Scar was laughing in a joking manner and making it sound like a battle cry. Resultantly, the producer changed the characterization so that the film wouldn’t sound like it is from a different era. 


Personally, I was very happy to hear that Disney was coming out with a remodelled version of the 1944 Lion King this summer, as I knew that it would bring back many memories from my childhood. It was delightful to see that although there were a number of changes within the film, the narrator playing Mufassa has remained the same. I found the new movie very impressive mainly because the visuals were upgraded making it seem realistic, yet keeping the film traditional.


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