Part of what makes The Lion King so spectacular is the gorgeous animation and renderings of the African landscape. The film’s iconic sunrise opening remains a beautiful moment, even 20 plus years after the film’s initial release.
The opening song “The Circle of Life” is a perfect combination of traditional African music and Western song. The opening “call” is from the Zulu language and translates to:
“Here comes a lion father, oh yes it’s a lion!/We’re going to conquer/A lion and leopard come to this open place.”
After this initial verse, the scene alternates between various animals found in Africa (cheetahs, rhinoceros, elephants, ostrich, antelope, etc) all awakening and beginning a mass journey towards what is ultimately revealed as Pride Rock. This visual of animals assembling to celebrate the birth of a new Prince is reminiscent (and likely inspired by) the opening scene of Bambi (1942) where all the animals of the forest gather to greet the newly born Bambi.
I love the next verse that includes the lines:
“There is more to see, then can ever be seen/more to do, then can ever be done. There is far too much to take in here, more to find then can ever be found.”
It’s a perfect summation of life, there is so much to do/see/touch/experience, that even living life to the absolute fullest, we still couldn’t experience all of it, which is amazing when you think about it.
I love the sweeping view of the landscape when Zazu flies up to Mufasa
Up at Pride Rock, King Mufasa (James Earl Jones) is awaiting the arrival of Rafiki, a mandrill who (I believe) serves as an advisor to the king and also presents the new Prince (or Princess) to the animals of the Pride Lands whenever a new one is born. The newborn Simba is absolutely adorable and somewhat bewildered by everything going on around him. Rafiki pronounces his blessing and proceeds to take the lion cub out to the ledge so that all the animals can see him and bow in homage (acknowledging that Simba will be the king in the future). It’s a wonderful moment, and this remains one of my favorite Disney songs.
I hope you enjoy “The Circle of Life” back to Middle Earth tomorrow (nearly finished with The Fellowship of the Ring).
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