14 Facts About “The Lion King” That Show a New Side of This Masterpiece

The story about Simba the lion cub celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. A new version of this movie masterpiece has recently been released. Though many people didn’t like it, the original will stay in our hearts forever.

Bright Side is ready to tell you some interesting facts about The Lion King and some details that might have been hidden, even from those who know each scene and all the words by heart.

  • Have you noticed that the scar on Scar’s face is almost equal to the scar on Tony Montana’s face, who was played by Al Pacino, in Scarface?
  • There were different titles that the creators came up with: King of the Kalahari, King of the Beasts, and King of the Jungle, which was actually chosen, but later they realized that lions didn’t live in the jungle and came up with The Lion King. By the way, it’s said that at Disneyland, you can find T-shirts with the original name, King of the Jungle. Do you have one?
  • Originally, the idea of the cartoon was completely different. George Scribner was going to be a film director: he wanted to create a National Geographic-like documentary that was animated. When the team decided to make a musical, Scribner quit the project.
  • The plot was also modified: initially, it was going to be a story about the war between lions and baboons, Timon and Pumbaa were Simba’s friends since his childhood, and Simba was supposed to become a lazy and awkward character.
  • Creators said that they were inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet and biblical stories about Joseph and Moses. By the way, there’s a scene where Scar’s playing with a skull — it’s kind of a reference to a story about the Prince of Denmark.
  • To be honest, not everyone believed The Lion King would be successful. Many employees weren’t sure the story about a cub accused of murdering his father with Elton John’s music in the background would touch the audience. Even the screenwriters were pretty skeptical: Brenda Chapman didn’t want to work on the project because “the story wasn’t good enough” and writer Barney Mattison said, “I don’t know who’s going to watch it.”
  • The Lion King was considered to be a secondary project and everyone believed more in Pocahontas. Well, these pessimistic predictions weren’t going to come true: The Lion King became one of the most successful animations in history and was part of the renaissance of Disney cartoons in the beginning of the 90s. And yes, compare The Lion King and Pocahontas at the box office: $968 million against $346 million.
  • Not all characters were included in the final cut: Mheetu, Nala’s brother who Simba was about to rescue, was cut out. Bhati the wise fox, Iggy the lizard, and Tesma the meerkat also disappeared.
  • The names of the characters have their own meanings in African dialects: Simba means “lion,” Rafiki means “friend,” Pumbaa means “fool,” Banzai means “hiding,” Shenzi means “uncivilized,” and Mufasa was the name of the last king of the people living in Kenya before the British colonization.
  • More about Kenya: to create the African flora and fauna, animators traveled to Kenya and studied the local nature. Thanks to millions of sketches of Kenya National Park, the magnificent landscapes were visualized. The cartoon creators consulted wildlife experts to make characters’ behavior and traits more realistic and natural. By the way, they first heard the famous “Hakuna-matata” in Africa.
  • Here’s another interesting thing: if you have a closer look at the rock of the ancestors, it resembles a mouth of a big animal opened up toward the sky. It could be a crocodile, a lion, or a bear — what do you think?
  • 23 years after the movie’s release, the film director and the producer suddenly confessed that Mufasa and Scar weren’t genetic brothers! The creators claimed that they were rival lions living in one pride. They called each other brothers, though they weren’t actually related. After hearing this news, Scar doesn’t seem so ruthless, but the scene in the canyon will always be incredibly tragic.
  • Elton John and Tim Rice are the authors of all the songs in the cartoon. There were a lot of songs, but only 5 of them were used in the final version. The legendary Can You Feel the Love Tonight was the hardest one: Tim Rice wrote around 15 versions of the song (over several years), but the original version was finally chosen. Then they weren’t sure about the first line, “Can you feel the love tonight?” It seemed to be weird in a story about parents and children. But the song was left alone, millions of people loved it, and the authors won an Oscar.
  • Initially, Timon and Pumbaa were planned to sing a song about eating bugs, but the creators changed their minds. Soon, they remembered the “Hakuna-matata” phrase, which they learned in Africa. Then, Tim said it resembled the Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo song from Cinderella. So this is how the famous “Hakuna-matata” song was born.

Which film is better: The Lion King from the past or its movie remake? Let’s vote in the comments!

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