There are love songs and then there are love songs, and for a long time “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” was THE love song for me. The song was created by a collaboration between Tim Rice and Elton John (in fact the pop version in the end credits is performed by the latter). Now that they’re both grown up, Simba and Nala are finally accepting their feelings for one another and coming to the realization that yes, they are in love!
I love the shot of the waterfall, it’s a beautiful piece of animation
The song went through several variations before it reached the form we all know and love. At one point, it was going to be sung exclusively by Timon and Pumbaa, but that idea was discarded because it was felt that the comedic nature of the duo would detract from the romantic theme of the song. Then it was going to be sung onscreen by Simba and Nala, but THAT idea was dropped because it was felt Disney had already gone that route many, many times. Ultimately, a compromise of sorts was reached: Timon and Pumbaa begin and end the song, while Simba and Nala sing offscreen while onscreen we watch the pair grow closer together.
Of course it’s not as simple as Simba and Nala just falling in love, they both have mental obstacles that are initially holding them back. For Simba’s part, he still blames himself for his father’s death, and he feels that if Nala knows the “truth,” she would never love him. For Nala, she can’t understand why Simba has stayed away all these years (in fact up until a few hours ago she believed Simba was long-since dead) when he is in fact the rightful king of Pride Rock.
Happily, they both dismiss their mental concerns and embrace the fact that they love each other, and for tonight at least, the world is a perfect place.
Hijinks ensued (Simba started it)
And while Simba and Nala are happy with their new-found love, Timon and Pumbaa are horrified because, if Simba falls in love, he’ll ultimately leave the oasis, which means their longtime friend will be gone forever and “doomed” (because their life motto Hakuna Matata/No worries doesn’t really make provision for love, which in itself can be home to a host of worries). I really love the inclusion of Timon and Pumbaa’s comedy as a bookend to the song (let’s face it, little kids can get squirmy during love songs, I know I did at that age). (And, I don’t know why, but I always giggle a little when Timon and Pumbaa burst into tears at the end of the song, it just seems funny to me that they’re so upset about Simba falling in love).
And that’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” When I return on Thursday with more Lion King, I’ll be back with some of my favorite orchestral pieces from the score (including a certain wildebeest stampede). Until then, have a good day! -Becky
For more Lion King, see also: