The Lion King

USA 1994, 88 mins
Directors: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff

The adventure-filled journey of Simba, a heroic young lion struggling to find his place in nature’s ‘circle of life’ and follow in the regal paw prints of his father, the great King Mufasa, forms the basis of Walt Disney Pictures’ extraordinary animated feature, The Lion King. Set against the breathtaking natural beauty, mysticism and diversity of the African landscape, captured and stylised here by a team of top artistic talents, Disney’s 32nd full-length animated film is a uniquely entertaining coming-of-age allegory and the studio’s first to be based on an original story. Using classic storytelling elements, personable characters, memorable music, generous doses of humour and universal themes as building blocks, the film’s creative team meticulously and painstakingly crafted the story instead of the more traditional approach of adapting a classic fairy tale or literary favourite.

With superb performances from Disney’s talented animation team and an inspired all-star vocal ensemble, five incredible new songs by legendary singer/songwriter Elton John and Academy Award-winning lyricist Tim Rice (Aladdin) plus composer Hans Zimmer’s evocative score and musical supervision, this stylish, ambitious and magical film provides a delightfully entertaining experience for moviegoers of all ages. Innovative uses of technology add to the production’s scope and richness, allowing the filmmakers to once again expand the boundaries of their medium by creating images and situations that were never before possible.

The Lion King follows the epic adventures of a young lion cub named Simba as he struggles to accept the responsibilities of adulthood and his destined role as king of the jungle. As a carefree cub, he ‘just can’t wait to be king’, and spends his days frolicking with his pal, Nala. His father, King Mufasa, the revered ruler of Pride Rock and the lands that surround it, teaches him about the ‘circle of life’ – the delicate balance of nature which bonds all animals together – and cautions him to prepare for the day when he will be called upon to lead. Mufasa’s evil brother, Scar, hopes that day will never arrive and schemes to do away with the king and Simba so that he can assume the throne for his own tyrannical purposes. He and his hyena henchmen – Shenzi, Banzai and Ed – lure Simba into the path of a wildebeest stampede in which Mufasa is killed trying to save his son.

Scar convinces Simba that he is responsible for his father’s death and urges him to run far away from the Pride Lands and never return. A frightened and guilt-ridden Simba flees into exile where he is befriended by a wacky but warm-hearted warthog named Pumbaa and his freewheeling meerkat companion, Timon. Under the dubious guidance of this nature’s odd couple, Simba adopts their ‘Hakuna Matata’ (no worries) attitude towards life, living on a diet of bugs and taking things one day at a time. The cub matures into a young adult and is able to put his past behind him until a beautiful young lioness, who turns out to be his childhood friend Nala, arrives on the scene. She tells him of the hard times and suffering that have come to the Pride Lands under Scar’s reign and beseeches him to take his place as king. With the help of Rafiki, a wise shaman baboon, Simba realises that his father’s spirit lives on in him and that he must accept the responsibility of his destined role. In a climactic battle with his uncle and an army of hyenas, Simba attempts to reclaim his rightful place in the ‘circle of life’.

The Lion King is very much in the great Disney tradition of using allegories with animals for storytelling purposes,’ says Roy E. Disney, vice chairman of The Walt Disney Company and head of feature animation. ‘In the early days, Walt adapted many of Aesop’s fables for animation and used animal characters like Mickey and Donald to tell his stories. Later Bambi, Lady and the Tramp and One Hundred and One Dalmatians, and some of the True Life Adventures further explored the approach of telling stories about animals in human terms and with strong moral themes. I think Lion King very much has its roots in those films and I am personally delighted because it opens up whole new worlds for us in storytelling.’

According to Peter Schneider, president of feature animation and one of the principal architects of that division’s unprecedented expansion, ‘The Lion King is a departure for us, thematically. It tackles a new area and a new subject and pushes the boundaries one step further both technically and artistically. Our animators are like a resident repertory theatre company and the quality of the performances in this film reflects the fact that with each film they are getting better and better as actors and artists. Part of our continuing challenge in feature animation is to convince moviegoers that animated movies are movies that happen to be animated. They have great stories, great emotion and great humour.’

The Lion King is essentially a love story between a father and a son,’ says producer Don Hahn. ‘It’s about that moment in life when you realise that your father is going to pass on to you his wisdom and knowledge. The circle of life. Someday we all become adults. The baton will be passed on to us and we’re going to have to grow up.’

For Jeffrey Katzenberg, who, as chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, has taken a deep interest and creative role in the animated features, The Lion King was a heartfelt project that touched a deep chord. ‘This movie is about responsibility,’ he says. ‘It’s about the responsibility we have as torchbearers from one generation to the next. For every single human being, there is a special moment when they go from being a child to an adult and must take on the responsibility that goes with it. For most people, it happens out of something joyous like finding a mate in life or the birth of a child. Sometimes, as in the case of Simba, it is caused by something tragic. He has to come to terms with that and ends up growing in the process. Whether you’re 5 or 85, it is something everyone can relate to instinctively or through personal experience.’

To prepare the filmmakers for the daunting task of capturing the vast natural beauty of Africa in animation, six members of the creative team visited Eastern Africa during the early stages of production. For each of them, the trip had a profound impact and helped them create and design the exciting visuals that make this film so special and unique. Close encounters with real lions and other jungle animals helped shape and define the roles the characters would play in the film. The numerous sketches, photos and videos they brought back with them enabled art director Andy Gaskill and production designer Chris Sanders to add authentic flavour to the reality-based ‘fantasy Africa’ they were creating for the film. The unforgettable images of fiery sunrises, velvety-blue nights, dusty gorges, lush green jungles and the earthtone colours of the Serengeti were all inspired by this trip and the natural beauty that abounds there.

For the more than 600 artists, animators and technicians who contributed to The Lion King over its lengthy production schedule, the film presented many challenges. In the end, more than one million drawings were created for the film, which is made up of 1,197 hand-painted backgrounds and 119,058 individually coloured frames of film.
Production notes

Director: Clyde Geronimi
USA 1941
8 mins

Directors: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff
Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures
Executive Producer: Thomas Schumacher, Sarah McArthur
Producer: Don Hahn
Associate Producer: Alice Dewey
Production Manager: Dana Axelrod
Production Co-ordinators: Animation/Effects: Matt Garbera; Clean-up: Jeanie Lynd Sorenson; S_cene Planning_: Annamarie Costa, John Cunningham, Tom Baker, Mary Lescher
Post production manager: Sara Duran
Artistic Supervisors: Story: Brenda Chapman; Layout: Dan St. Pierre; Background: Doug Ball; Clean-up: Vera Lanpher; Visual Effects: Scott Santoro; CGI: Scott F. Johnston
Casting: Brian Chavanne
ADR Voice Casting: Barbara Harris
Screenplay: Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts, Linda Woolverton
Story: Burny Mattinson, Barry Johnson, Lorna Cook, Thom Enriquez, Andy Gaskill, Gary Trousdale, Jim Capobianco, Kevin Harkey, Jorgen Klubien,Chris Sanders, Tom Sito, Larry Leker, Joe Ranft, Rick Maki, Ed Gombert, Francis Glebas, Mark Kausler
Digitising Camera Supervisor: Robyn L. Roberts
Animation Camera Operator: John Aardal, Andrew Simmons, Gary W. Smith
CGI Co-ordinator: Maryann Mcleod
Computer Graphics Imagery: Edward Kummer
Colour Models Supervisor: Karen Comella
Supervising Animators: Young Simba: Mark Henn; Adult Simba: Ruben Aquino; Mufasa: Tony Fucile; Scar: Andreas Deja; Adult Nala: Anthony Derosa; Young Nala: Aaron Blaise; Pumbaa: Tony Bancroft; Timon: Michael Surrey; Rafiki: James Baxter; Zazu: Ellen Woodbury; Sarabi: Russ Edmonds; Hyenas: David Burgess, Alex Kupershmidt
Supervising Character Lead: Young Simba: Daniel A. Gracey; Adult Simba: Bill Berg; Mufasa/Sarabi: Brian Clift; Scar: Nancy Kniep; Scar: Kathleen Bailey, Marianne Tucker; Adult Nala: Scott Anderson; Young Nala: Tracy Mark Lee; Timon & Pumbaa: Debra Armstrong; Rafiki: Marshall Toomey; Zazu: Dan Tanaka; Hyenas: Alex Topete
Computer Animation (Wildebeest Stampede): Gregory Griffith, Linda Bel
Character Design/Visual Development: Hans Bacher, Jean Gillmore, Joe Grant, Michael Hodgson, Lisa Keene, Sue C. Nichols, Bruce Zick, Mel Shaw, Bob Smith
Character Sculptures: Kent Melton
Effects Animators: Dorse Lanpher, Ted C. Kierscey, Ed Coffey, Christine Blum, Mauro Maressa, Tom Hush, Allen Blyth, David (Joey) Mildenberg, Eusebio Torres, Steve Moore, Marlon West, Garrett Wren, Chris Jenkins, Dave Bossert
Animation Check Supervisor: Janet Bruce
Background: Gregory Alexander Drolette, Don Moore, Kathy Altieri, Serge Michaels, Debbie Du Bois, Sunny Apinchapong, Michael Humphries, Natalie Franscioni-karp, Philip Phillipson, Barry Atkinson, Dan Cooper,Kevin Turcotte, Thomas Woodington, David McCamley, Dominick R. Domingo, Charles Vollmer, Barry R. Kooser, Patricia Palmer-Phillipson, Brooks Campbell, Richard Sluiter
Ink and Paint manager: Gretchen Maschmeyer Albrecht
Paint Final Check Supervisor: Hortensia M. Casagran
Supervising Editors: Tom Finan, John Carnochan
Editor: Ivan Bilancio
Animation Editor: Jim Melton
Production Designer: Chris Sanders
Art Director: Andy Gaskill
Artistic Co-ordinator: Randy Fullmer
Scene Planning Supervisor: Ann Tucker
Title Design: Burke Mattsson, Susan Bradley
Titles: Buena Vista Imaging
Music Composed, Arranged and Supervised by: Hans Zimmer
Songs: Tim Rice, Elton John
African Vocal Solos/Improvisations: Lebo M.
Score Conducted by: Nick Glennie-Smith
Supervising Music Editor: Adam Milo Malley
Music Recorded and Mixed by: Jay Rifkin
Original Dialogue Recording: Doc Kane
Re-recording mixer: Terry Porter, Mel Metcalfe, David J. Hudson
Supervising Sound Editor: Richard L. Anderson, Mark Mangini
Special Sound Effects: John Pospisil
Sound Effects Editor: Michael Chock, James Christopher, Paul J. Berolzheimer

Voice Cast
Rowan Atkinson (Zazu)
Matthew Broderick (Simba)
Niketa Calame (young Nala)
Jim Cummings (Ed)
Whoopi Goldberg (Shenzi)
Robert Guillaume (Rafiki)
James Earl Jones (Mufasa)
Moira Kelly (Nala)
Nathan Lane (Timon)
Cheech Marin (Banzai)
Ernie Sabella (Pumbaa)
Madge Sinclair (Sarabi)
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (young Simba)
Jeremy Irons (Scar)

USA 1994©
88 mins

Wed 2 Aug 14:20; Mon 14 Aug 20:30; Sun 27 Aug 13:15
Turning Red
Wed 2 Aug 20:20; Tue 8 Aug 14:20; Sat 26 Aug 15:30
The Jungle Book
Thu 3 Aug 14:20; Sun 6 Aug 13:00; Wed 16 Aug 20:45; Wed 30 Aug 14:20
Thu 3 Aug 18:00; Sat 19 Aug 17:30
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Fri 4 Aug 18:00; Sun 13 Aug 18:10; Tue 22 Aug 14:20; Wed 23 Aug 20:20
101 Dalmatians
Sat 5 Aug 13:20; Thu 10 Aug 14:20; Sat 19 Aug 15:30; Tue 29 Aug 14:20
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Sat 5 Aug 15:40; Thu 17 Aug 14:20; Sun 27 Aug 18:20
Sister Act
Sat 5 Aug 20:40; Fri 18 Aug 18:20
Zootropolis (aka Zootopia)
Sun 6 Aug 13:10; Fri 25 Aug 18:00
Silent Cinema: Disney’s Silent Shorts + intro
Sun 6 Aug 15:30
Freaky Friday
Sun 6 Aug 18:20; Fri 18 Aug 20:30; Thu 24 Aug 20:50
The Parent Trap
Mon 7 Aug 18:00; Sun 20 Aug 15:10
Wed 9 Aug 14:20; Sat 12 Aug 11:30 (+ extended intro); Mon 14 Aug 14:20; Sun 20 Aug 19:00
Mary Poppins
Wed 9 Aug 17:50; Mon 21 Aug 14:20; Mon 28 Aug 13:00
Wed 9 Aug 20:30; Mon 28 Aug 12:30
The Love Bug
Fri 11 Aug 20:30; Sat 12 Aug 11:50; Sun 20 Aug 13:30
A Disney Day for Young Audiences
Sat 12 Aug 11:30-16:30
Sat 12 Aug 18:00; Sat 26 Aug 12:00
Sat 12 Aug 20:30; Sat 19 Aug 13:00; Thu 24 Aug 14:20
The Lion King
Sun 13 Aug 13:00 (+ Funday Sing-along); Sat 26 Aug 20:30; Thu 31 Aug 14:20
The Fiendishly Difficult Disney Quiz
Sun 13 Aug 15:30 Blue Room
Sun 13 Aug 15:50; Wed 16 Aug 14:20; Sat 26 Aug 12:20; Mon 28 Aug 16:20
Finding Nemo
Sun 13 Aug 18:30; Sun 27 Aug 13:30
The Rescuers
Mon 14 Aug 18:30; Sat 19 Aug 15:50
Sat 19 Aug 12:00; Tue 29 Aug 20:30
Dick Tracy
Fri 25 Aug 20:40; Tue 29 Aug 18:10 (+ intro by Ben Roberts, BFI CEO)
The Little Mermaid
Sun 27 Aug 16:00; Mon 28 Aug 16:40

With thanks to The Walt Disney Company

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Programme notes and credits compiled by Sight and Sound and the BFI Documentation Unit
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