Tag Archives: The Lion King

The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride “He Lives in You” (1998)

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In the late 1990s and 2000s, Disney went on a spree of creating sequels to all of their animated films, most of which paled in comparison to the originals. However, there were a few successful follow-ups and The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride is one of them. The story follows Simba’s (Matthew Broderick) daughter Kiara (Neve Campbell) as she finds herself becoming friends (and later much more) with Kovu (Jason Marsden), the alleged son of Scar and Zira (a lioness who followed Scar, even after Simba returned to the Pride Lands), leader of a band of exiled lions. If the first Lion King is based on Hamlet, then the sequel is clearly Romeo and Juliet (only there’s a happy ending in this version).

 

The film starts, like the original, with a sunrise and the animals traveling again to Pride Rock to acknowledge the new heir to the throne. “He Lives in You” actually comes from the Broadway version of The Lion King and was initially sung by Mufasa to Simba (speaking of the Great Kings of the Past) and later by Rafiki. Like “The Circle of Life,” this song also mixes some Zulu into the lyrics.

Ingonyama nengw’ enamabala
Ingonyama nengw’ enamabala

Night
And the spirit of life
Calling

Oh, oh, iyo
Mamela (Listen)
Oh, oh, iyo

And a voice
With the fear of a child
Answers

Oh, oh, iyo
Oh, mamela (Listen)
Oh, oh, iyo

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Ubukhosi bo khokho (Throne of the ancestors)
We ndodana ye sizwe sonke (Oh, son of the nation)

Wait
There’s no mountain too great
Oh, oh, iyo
Hear the words and have faith
Oh, oh, iyo
Have faith

Hela hm mamela (Hey, listen)

He lives in you (Hela hm mamela, hela)
He lives in me (Hela hm mamela, hela)
He watches over (Hela hm mamela, hela)
Everything we see (Hela hm mamela, hela)
Into the water (Hela hm mamela, hela)
Into the truth (Hela hm mamela, hela)
In your reflection (Hela hm mamela)
He lives in you

As Kiara is presented to the animals of the Pride Lands, we can see Mufasa’s spirit watching over the proceedings, clearly pleased with how things are going. I think it really helps that this film opens like the original story, it provides a sense of continuity, the idea that this is a real follow-up to Simba’s story. This song is also a call back to Rafiki’s message to Simba in the original film (“That’s not my father, it’s just my reflection.” “You see…he lives in you.”)

What do you think about “He Lives in You?” Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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Disturbing Disney #5: The death of Bambi’s Mother (1942)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

If you ask most of the young adults in my generation when and how they first learned about death in film; the answer is more than likely to be Mufasa’s death in The Lion King (1994). But 52 years before that tragic event, Disney set the bar for the disturbing and upsetting when it came to the death of Bambi’s mother in Bambi (1942). In fact, my grandmother, who saw Bambi in the theater at a very young age, recounted to me once that this scene had all the young children in the theater in tears (and I don’t blame them at all). Because it is so upsetting and so blunt in how it presents death, I have made this scene part of the list of Disturbing Disney moments.

Prior to this scene, Bambi has been experiencing his very first winter and it hasn’t been going well. There’s hardly any food to eat; and after the initial fun of playing in the snow, Bambi finds himself longing for the warmth and greenery to return. Bambi’s mother promises that spring will come soon and sure enough, one day they arrive at the meadow to find the first shoots of spring grass peeking up through the snow.

So far so good right? Well no sooner do they start eating then the ominous “Man is coming” music starts. This theme is the only musical hint we ever have that Man is coming (he is never seen onscreen). Bambi doesn’t notice the danger, but his mother does and she quickly tells her son to run for safety!

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This is where the scene begins to enter the disturbing. As Bambi runs for it, he turns to look back at his mother and hears these last words “Faster, faster Bambi! Don’t look back! Keep running, KEEP RUNNING!” Right before these words, the pair has already dodged one gunshot, and just after Bambi’s mother disappears offscreen, you hear it: a solid gunshot indicating a hit. But Bambi keeps running, not realizing anything has happened until he reaches the thicket, turns around and realizes…his mother isn’t there. The pain in the moment when Bambi goes from happiness (“We made it mother!”) to questioning (“Mother?!”) is heartwrenching. When I was younger, I had a very hard time watching this part of the movie. In fact, I can dimly recall being young enough to not quite understand what had happened to Bambi’s mother (and when I asked my mother all she would tell me was “keep watching”).

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Disney does provide one moment of hope at the end of this scene: after a long search through the forest, Bambi encounters his father, the Great Prince of the Forest, who solemnly tells him “your mother can’t be with you anymore” and formally takes his son under his wing. This is the last time we see Bambi as a young fawn; he’ll next appear as a young buck (antlers and all).

As sad and messed up as this scene is (keep in mind, Bambi right now is the equivalent of a 5- year-old human child), it was originally going to be ten times worse. In an earlier version of the script, Bambi was supposed to notice the shot, double back and find his mother lying in a pool of her own blood (whether she was already dead or dying is not specified). Walt Disney vetoed the idea on the grounds that would be going too far and the moment was cut (which is good, because otherwise, this scene would’ve been #1 in the series).

I suppose it could be argued that this scene is more sad than disturbing, but I felt it needed to be added to this series. What do you think of the death of Bambi’s mother? Did it greatly upset you, were you old enough to understand what had happened? Let me know in the comments below! I’m glad everyone is enjoying this series 🙂 The next installment will also be from Bambi and covers a small moment that always had me on the edge of my seat. Until then, have a good rest of the day!

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For more Disturbing Disney, see also:

Disturbing Disney #1: The Coachman in Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #2: The truth of Pleasure Island in Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #3: Escaping Monstro from Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #4: Dumbo loses his mother (1941)

Disturbing Disney #6: Faline vs. the dogs (1942)

Disturbing Disney #7: Cruella wants to do WHAT??

Disturbing Disney #8: The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met (from Make Mine Music, 1946)

Disturbing Disney #9: Dr. Facilier’s Fate (The Princess and the Frog, 2009)

Disturbing Disney #10: The rat in Lady and the Tramp (1955)

Disturbing Disney #11: Clayton’s Death in Tarzan (1999)

Disturbing Disney #12: The Bear from The Fox and the Hound (1981)

Disturbing Disney #13: “Smoking them out” in The Fox and the Hound (1981)

Disturbing Disney #14: The Salt Trap in The Jungle Book (1994)

Disturbing Disney #15: Night on Bald Mountain from Fantasia (1940)

Disturbing Disney #16: King Triton destroys Ariel’s grotto

Disturbing Disney #17: Ratigan becomes a monster

Disturbing Disney #18: The Queen’s assignment for her Huntsman

Disturbing Disney #19: Cinderella’s dress is destroyed (1950)

Disturbing Disney #20: Quasimodo is crowned ‘King of Fools’ (1996)

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What Disney taught me about life: Things I learned from the Movies

This post is part of the Things I Learned from the Movies Blogathon hosted by Silver Screenings and Speakeasy.

So, I have a confession to make. Originally I was going to write about what Disney films taught me about humor, but as I got started, I realized I couldn’t think of any good examples. So, I decided to make the subject a little broader, and talk about several life lessons I learned from Disney films (my apologies for the last minute change).

  1. Sometimes when you love a person, you have to let them go. This happens in Pocahontas (1995) when Pocahontas and John Smith know they love each other, but John has to go back to England to be treated for his injuries. Pocahontas could go with him, but she needs to stay with her people, and so they say goodbye, even though it breaks both their hearts.
  2. Imagination is a very powerful tool. I learned this from The Sword in the Stone (1963). Most of Merlin’s lessons are based on the Wart’s ability to “imagine” that he is a fish, or a bird or a squirrel before the magic can actually work. And as the Wart’s imagination is opened up further, he grows further and further as a young man.
  3. You don’t always fall in love at first sight. I know most Disney films portray the opposite, but that’s exactly my point. Until very recently, Disney portrayed true love as being something that could occur in a single meeting. Or, to be more generous, something that could occur over a relatively short period of time. While that’s better, I really think that real love takes closer to a year to happen. The good news is that Disney is slowly moving away from “true love at first sight”.

and the most important thing I learned from Disney films?

4. Sometimes the “bad guy” wins. The big example for this comes from The Lion King, when Scar succeeds with his plan to kill Mufasa. While we all want to believe that the hero always wins and the villain always loses, in real life it’s usually the other way around. And, while it took me years to understand, I think it’s good that Disney includes this concept in some of their stories. It hurts, but it’s a lesson that needs to be shared.

And that’s a small sample of the things I learned from Disney movies. I hope you enjoyed checking it out! Thanks to Silver Screenings and Speakeasy for hosting this great blogathon!

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The Lion King “King of Pride Rock” Pt. 2 (1994)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

With Scar finally out of the way for good (thanks to a hungry pack of hyenas), Pride Rock is finally saved. Rainfall douses the flames and an exhausted Simba appears out of the smoke to be acclaimed as king by his lionesses and friends (as well as being reunited with Nala). But Rafiki points out that there is one more duty to perform: he needs to properly claim his rightful place at the ledge of Pride Rock, where all can see and hear him.

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“It is time…” I love this part!!!

As the long climb begins, a great fanfare strikes up. This is the moment Simba fulfills his long-delayed destiny. For one moment, he even appears as Mufasa himself (causing a double take from Zazu). Reaching the top (as the bones and debris are washed away by the rain) Simba watches the emerging stars and hears Mufasa’s last word to him “Remember…” and he ROARS!!!

The Lion King “Ending scene” (1994)

I love this part, though I have a little piece of trivia to share: that’s not a lion’s roar. Those are actually tiger roars you are hearing (but it still sounds so cool!!!)

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Time lapse to a restored Pride Rock in all its verdant glory and the animals of the Pride Lands have all returned. Simba, Nala, Timon and Pumbaa stand at the ledge as Zazu circles above. And then Rafiki appears, revealing the reason for the celebration: Simba and Nala have their own baby (Kiara, with her own love story in The Lion King II) and its time for her to be presented to the Pride Lands as the Circle of Life goes on 🙂

And that’s the end of The Lion King 🙂 I hope you enjoyed looking at this great film. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button

For more Lion King, see also:

The Lion King “The Circle of Life” (1994)

The Lion King “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” (1994)

The Lion King “Be Prepared” (1994)

The Lion King “To Die For” (1994)

The Lion King “Hakuna Matata” (1994)

The Lion King “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” (1994)

The Lion King “Beneath the Stars” (1994)

The Lion King “King of Pride Rock” Pt. 1 (1994)

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The Lion King “Under the Stars” (1994)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

The time has almost come to bring The Lion King to a close. After today I’ll share the final scene of the film and that will be the end. I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at one of the most popular films of the Disney Renaissance.

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“Under the Stars” is one of my favorite instrumental themes from the film. This is the part of the story where Simba is convinced he needs to return to Pride Rock to confront Scar. A now-grown Nala (who snuck away from the desolate Pride Lands in search of help) has already tried to convince Simba to return, but the guilt-ridden Simba (who still believes Mufasa’s death is his fault) refuses, and won’t tell her why either. He storms off in anger and finally vents his frustrations to the night sky (where Mufasa once told him the great kings of the past watch over them)

You said you’d always be there for me! But you’re not…that’s because of me. It’s my fault…it’s MY fault!”

And just in the nick of time, Rafiki shows up! Simba doesn’t remember him of course, but he was the mandrill who presented Simba to the kingdom as the future king. Rafiki is singing a crazy song to himself, it goes like this:

“Asante sana, squash banana, wewe nugu mimi hapana”

And when Simba demands to know what the heck all that means, Rafiki explains that it means (in part at least) “You are a baboon, and I’m not!” When Simba tells Rafiki he must be confused, the mandrill reminds Simba that he (Simba) doesn’t even know who HE is, but he (Rafiki) does, he’s “Mufasa’s boy!”

The Lion King: Simba meets Rafiki/Mufasa’s Ghost (1994)

Of course hearing his father’s name brings Simba running after Rafiki for more information, especially when Rafiki insists that Mufasa is still alive and that he can show his father to him, but only if he follows him deep into the jungle. Simba does follow, and I love the music that comes while he’s creeping and running after Rafiki. It’s a very primal song, full of African drum beats and chanting. Sometimes when I just listen to the soundtrack, I imagine a tribal dance going on (as I’m almost positive that’s what this piece was modeled after).

 

After chasing Rafiki for quite a while, Simba is led to a distant lake where, Rafiki tells him, he will see his father. But when a nervous Simba peers over the edge, he is disappointed.

“That’s not my father…it’s only my reflection.”

“But you see…” Rafiki tells him “He lives in YOU.”

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And suddenly the reflection changes to that of Mufasa and out of nowhere there’s a ghostly voice coming from the sky (five year old me was freaking out right about now). I absolutely love this animation: Mufasa starts as a ghostly silhouette coming out of the clouds, and as the scene continues, Mufasa’s body takes shape, until at last, we see Mufasa completely as he appeared in life:

“Simba…” (Mufasa says) “You have forgotten me..you have forgotten who you are and so you have forgotten me. Look inside yourself Simba. You are MORE than what you have become. You must take your place in the Circle of Life. Remember who you are, you are my son, and the one true king!”

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And just as quickly as he comes, Mufasa is gone again. Rafiki (who presumably watched the whole thing) comes back to see if Simba has finally learned his lesson. Simba does understand now, but he’s still a bit scared about his past….time for one more lesson then.

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Without warning, Rafiki bashes Simba over the head with his staff. And the following exchange has become almost a mantra for me in getting over the bad things that have happened to me in my life:

“OUCH! Geez, what was that for?

“It doesn’t matter, it’s in the past!’

“Yeah, but it still hurts.”

Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or, learn from it (tries to hit Simba again but Simba ducks), AHA!! You see! So what are you going to do?”

“First…I’m going to take your stick!! (pause) “I’m going back!!!”

Yes, while Simba is sad that he only got to see his father again for a brief moment, he knows now what he must do: head back to Pride Rock and confront Scar once and for all!

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460
Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button

For more of The Lion King, see also:

The Lion King “The Circle of Life” (1994)

The Lion King “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” (1994)

The Lion King “Be Prepared” (1994)

The Lion King “To Die For” (1994)

The Lion King “Hakuna Matata” (1994)

The Lion King “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” (1994)

The Lion King “King of Pride Rock” Part 1 (1994)

The Lion King “King of Pride Rock” Pt. 2 (1994)

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The Lion King “King of Pride Rock” (1994) Pt. 1

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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“King of Pride Rock” takes place at the climax of the film. After a little persuasion from Rafiki (not to mention a spine-tingling heart to heart with his father’s ghost), Simba has returned to the Pride Lands…only to discover that his once beautiful home is practically a desert. When Scar allowed the hyenas to move en masse into the Pride Lands, it upset the delicate balance of life and now all the herds of elephants, antelope, giraffes, etc. have moved away, leaving the pride (not to mention a very large group of hyenas) close to starvation. Simba is quickly joined by Nala, Timon and Puumba, who are all willing to help Simba claim his rightful place as king.

And Simba hasn’t come home a moment too soon: Scar wants to have a word with Sarabi, Simba’s mother. He accuses the lionesses of not doing their jobs of hunting for food, despite Sarabi’s calm replies that there isn’t any food because the herds have all left. Scar vehemently denies the truth (he can’t accept that he’s a terrible king) and when Sarabi tells the delusional lion that they have to leave Pride Rock if they want to survive, the furious Scar explodes in rage, ultimately striking Sarabi across the face, provoking an enraged roar from Simba.

The music during all of this is mournful (the melody is led by an oboe and backed by a choir). Usually in a situation where the villain is in charge, there’s a theme that suggests “evil triumphant” but that doesn’t really happen here (unless you count the brief fanfare when Scar assumes the throne). Scar has mismanaged the Pride Lands so badly that there is nothing to be proud of. Deep down, he probably knows this, but his arrogance won’t let him admit he’s done all the wrong things.

 

Speaking of doing wrong…Scar almost betrays himself when Simba appears out of nowhere. For a brief moment, his nephew resembles his late brother so much that Scar whispers “Mufasa…no, you’re dead!” I don’t think anyone else heard him though, because doesn’t it sound awfully suspicious to be afraid of what you think is your brother’s ghost? Even Sarabi believes that this is her husband until Simba corrects her, much to Scar’s surprise:

“Why Simba…I’m so surprised to see you…alive” *angry glare at Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, who slink away for safety*

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Simba is ready for war (“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t rip you apart”) and the music backs up Simba’s anger. Listening to this part, Simba can be represented by trumpets and brass. Scar, on the other hand, is more in the woodwinds, and “his” music slinks and wiggles, while Simba’s is (initially) bold and confident. And I say “initially” because Scar has one last trump card to play: the “truth” about who really killed Mufasa. All these years Simba has believed this tragedy was his fault, and now he confesses it to everyone as the “truth” and Scar promptly denounces his nephew as a murderer

“If it weren’t for YOU Mufasa would still be alive, it’s YOUR fault he’s dead, do you deny it? “No” “Then you’re GUILTY!”

And while he distracts Simba with these accusations, Scar surreptitiously begins backing the young lion towards the ledge at the end of Pride Rock, ultimately trapping Simba as he nearly falls over the edge! At this point, the soundtrack skips to the aftermath of the final fight, but I’m going to keep going.

The Lion King “Scar confesses the truth” (1994)

Now, history is about to repeat itself: Scar finds himself standing over Simba, in much the same way he stood over Mufasa right before his death. And at this moment, Scar makes one of his final mistakes (though not the one that gets him killed, that comes in a little bit): he leans down close to Simba and tells him the REAL truth: *I* killed Mufasa….this admission triggers an avalanche of pain and rage in Simba, who in one swoop jumps up and pins SCAR to the ground, demanding that everyone know what he just told them. Cornered, Scar finally admits to the entire pride that HE killed Mufasa and the war is on!! Well, I say war, but it wasn’t THAT big of a fight. At this point, most of Pride Rock is on fire from a lightning strike, and if you watch closely, most of the hyenas are running for their lives (from the flames as much as the wrath of the lion pride). Simba isn’t about to let Scar get away though, and when he spots his uncle trying to slink away, Simba chases him all the way to the top of Pride Rock. As the two lions begin to square off, neither notices that Shenzi, Banzai and Ed have crept in to listen.

The Lion King “Scar vs. Simba/Scar’s Death” (1994)

Simba is ready to kill Scar where he stands and the desperate Scar is pleading any excuse he can think of to keep his nephew from cutting his throat. He pleads for mercy, he pleads blood relations, and finally, he pleads the excuse that the HYENAS are the real enemy here, that this entire scheme was their idea, not his (As Shenzi, Banzai and Ed hear this, they growl in anger and slink away, but they’re not done with Scar yet). Simba doesn’t believe a word, but he won’t kill Scar either (as that would lower him to Scar’s level). Instead (oh, the delicious irony!!) he tells his uncle to “Run, run away Scar, and NEVER return” (the exact words that Scar used to make Simba run away). The older lion seems like he will accept this and leave, but just as everything seems over, Scar swipes some coals into Simba’s face and one last fight ensues.

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In the dramatic climax, Simba and Scar (in dramatic slow motion), tear and claw at each other, and Simba is ultimately knocked to the ground. But when Scar lunges for the kill, Simba takes a page from Nala and kicks upward, propelling his uncle over the edge of the cliff! But Scar isn’t dead, not yet anyways. He pulls himself up as Shenzi, Banzai and Ed come forward out of the flames.

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“Ah…” he smiles “My friends….”

And Shenzi laughs “Friends?? I thought he said we were the enemy…Yea, that’s what I heard, Ed???” As this conversation goes on, Scar’s eyes become horror filled as he realized that he’s surrounded by a horde of angry hyenas who no longer trust him, and are very, very hungry!! Scar pleads for his life right until the very end, when the hyenas (and the flames) overwhelm him. As Disney villain deaths go, this one is pretty gruesome. As I noted in Beauty and the Beast, this ending was originally intended for Gaston (who was supposed to survive his fall from the tower and be cornered by a pack of wolves).

To be honest, I was going to keep going through Simba’s triumphant accession of the throne, but this has gone on really long so I’m going to split this post in two and post the rest later this week 🙂 The Lion King has a pretty awesome climax, proving why it is one of the greatest films of the Disney Renaissance.

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button

For the rest of my series on The Lion King, see also:

The Lion King “The Circle of Life” (1994)

The Lion King “Be Prepared” (1994)

The Lion King “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” (1994)

The Lion King “Hakuna Matata” (1994)

The Lion King “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” (1994)

The Lion King “To Die For” (1994)

The Lion King “Under the Stars” (1994)

The Lion King “King of Pride Rock” Pt. 2 (1994)

Check out the main Disney soundtrack page here: Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

The Lion King “To Die For” (1994)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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I put it off for as long as I could, but now it’s time to discuss the scene everyone remembers from The Lion King: the wildebeest stampede. For as long as I live I will never forget watching this scene play out in the movie theater. After Scar had laid out his devious plan in “Be Prepared,” I was thoroughly convinced that Mufasa was somehow going to stop this from happening, because Scar is the bad guy and he can’t possibly succeed (oh how naive I was!!)

There is an air of tension from the moment we are taken to a canyon where Scar is telling Simba that his father has “a marvelous surprise” planned for him. Simba is begging his Uncle Scar to tell him what the surprise is, but Scar refuses to tell. The devious lion encourages his young nephew to work on his “little roar.” Before leaving to get Mufasa, Simba has one last question:

“Hey Uncle Scar, will I like the surprise?”

*pause, Scar smiles*

“Simba, it’s to DIE for!”

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What Simba doesn’t know is that about a hundred feet above him is an enormous herd of wildebeest. The herd is revealed with a rather ominous chord from the orchestra. While the herd quietly grazes, Shenzi, Banzai and Ed wait in the shadows for a signal from Scar. Banzai is going crazy from the temptation of having so much food so close at hand, but Shenzi prevents him from blowing their cover too soon. At a glance from Scar, the three hyenas frighten the herd into stampeding into their only avenue of escape: the canyon, where Simba is still waiting.

Moments before the music starts, Simba is indeed practicing his roar, and is pleased when his extra-loud “RAWR!!” startles a lizard and echoes off the canyon walls. But then…something happens. The pebbles begin to shake, a weird thundering noise is heard, and then hundreds of wildebeest begin pouring down the side of the canyon!!

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For years as a child, the opening of “To Die For” sent me into a state of near panic. The eerie introduction is achieved by a chorus that quickly layers one voice after another until there is a cacophany of sound (imitating the build-up of the stampede). If you listen to the soundtrack version, you can hear the female voices enter first, followed by the lower male voices.

Simba, seeing all of this, is rightfully terrified and begins running for his life, but a small lion has no chance of outrunning a stampede and Simba is soon forced to climb a tree in the middle of the canyon to avoid being trampled to death.

After the initial choral opening, the music is divided between the chorus, woodwinds and a wide selection of timpani, but it’s really the chorus that dominates this piece.

 

So far Scar’s evil plan is working, but Mufasa is about to be made aware of the situation by his brother (who is rather good at faking concern for his nephew). The two lions race to the scene and Zazu flies down to locate Simba, who is growing more and more panicked. Mufasa doesn’t hesitate to throw himself into the stampede, working his way to where his son is clinging on for dear life. Scar watches events with cool detachment (but he does make sure to knock a frantic Zazu out before he can fly back to Pride Rock and bring more help; the last thing Scar needs/wants is more witnesses to what’s about to happen).

Seeing this in theaters, I remember being scared out of my mind by the charging wildebeests. I was also confused: Mufasa was their king, why wasn’t his presence stopping them? (I had no concept of how a stampede mentality works, once a herd that big gets going, nothing can stop them.) Still, as I watched through my fingers, I was cheering when Mufasa managed to save Simba and (after several mishaps) safely deposit him on the side of the cliff. For a few perilous moments, Mufasa disappeared, having been dragged back down by the wildebeests, but Simba’s father is a powerful lion and with a mighty jump he begins dragging himself up to the nearby ledge (where Scar has been patiently waiting). Simba, believing the danger is over, begins to climb up another way and doesn’t see most of what happens next.

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Mufasa is barely holding on; he can’t pull himself all the way up without Scar’s help. Naturally, he calls for Scar to help him. And then…the moment I lost my innocence arrives: Scar slams his claws down into Mufasa’s paws, pulls him close and whispers “Long live the King…” The look of horror right before Scar throws Mufasa to his death stayed with me for a very long time, as did Simba’s scream of terror at seeing his father falling to his death.

And the music for this moment is just haunting too; that “oooooOOOOOO” in the chorus just reinforces what a tragic moment this is.

 

Of course I was in denial about Mufasa being dead, but the mournful music combined with the visual evidence…it practically destroyed me. And poor Simba, his world as he knows it is gone forever; his dad is gone, he has no idea what he’s going to do. And then it gets worse…Scar appears out of nowhere and plays his last card: guilt.

“Simba….what have *you* done?”

“…the king is dead. And if it weren’t for you, he would still be alive.Oh, what would your mother think!!”

It took me years to understand what Scar was doing; this is textbook emotional abuse, shifting the blame onto the victim, making them think THEY are at fault. Simba is already traumatized by witnessing his father’s death. Scar’s (false) allegations that this is HIS fault will further screw him up mentally for years to come.

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Now, what happens next ultimately proves to be Scar’s undoing. Scar is bigger and much more powerful than Simba: he could easily kill him with a single blow, and no one would be around to dispute his version of events. But for some reason, Scar doesn’t kill Simba and instead commands him to “run far away and never return.”

Instead of killing Simba himself, Scar plans on having the hyenas finish the job. This is the eternal weakness of the Disney villain: sending incompetent henchmen to do their dirty work for them. And despite their success in stampeding the wildebeest, Shenzi, Banzai and Ed ARE incompetent, especially when it comes to killing young lion cubs. Against all odds, Simba manages to get away and sets out across the desert. The hyenas COULD give chase, but Shenzi thinks it over and decides that Simba is as good as dead anyhow and IF he ever came back, THEN they could kill him.

Scar may think he has won, but someday he’s going to wish he’d simply killed Simba himself…

Now that I’m older I love listening to the soundtrack version of this scene. Hans Zimmer does an incredible job layering the melodies to simulate the chaos of a wild stampede. And the sad music after Mufasa is discovered dead still puts an ache in my chest. But I will never forget the first time I saw this scene in the theater, literally cowering in terror as the wildebeest rushed by.

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For more Lion King, see also:

The Lion King “The Circle of Life” (1994)

The Lion King “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” (1994)

The Lion King “Be Prepared” (1994)

The Lion King “Hakuna Matata” (1994)

The Lion King “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” (1994)

The Lion King “Under the Stars” (1994)

The Lion King “King of Pride Rock” (1994) Pt. 1

The Lion King “King of Pride Rock” Pt. 2 (1994)

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