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Hakuna matata for The Lion King 3D

Hakuna matata for The Lion King 3D

The Circle of Life still resonant
Oct 10, 2011

The opening cries of “Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba” to a rising sun still sends shivers down the spine almost 20 years after The Lion King’s initial release. Anyone lucky enough to attend a screening during the 2011 release will likely remember the revisit for the ambience as much as the film. Children of a new generation experiencing it for the first time, feeble singing coming from the person in the back row — and for some, male European tourists deciding to do a dance and sing-along to the credits on the open floor. The Disney Effect is still upon us all.

The endearing charm of Disney arguably peaked during the years many of us at Cut Print Review were experiencing cinema for the first time as young children. While the animation stalwart has gone in a different direction since that period, new technology enables all of us to experience that charm on the big screen once more. Bringing The Lion King to a new generation is one thing, but to bring it back for those growing up with it and those who gave their children the chance to see it is another point entirely.

Disney was always buying in on the 3D craze. What better way to keep the love for their most impressive films going (and cash-in once more) then a digital remastering? The chance of it going pear-shaped is always a worry – changed endings on Star Wars DVDs an example – but not overusing the technology is key. As the saying goes, keep it simple stupid. And they did. What many argue to be Disney’s best feature undeniably still stands as a masterpiece, with the 3D reworking enhancing the amazing array of colours – particularly doing wonders for characters Zazu and Rafiki.

lion king 50671 Hakuna matata for The Lion King 3D

Michael Wakelam, the manager of Reading Cinemas in Dubbo, first saw The Lion King as a 20 year old and appreciated its all-round humour. The excitement was undeniable as he described his disbelief at how good it came up on the big screen. As one of the last of the hand-drawn animations from Disney before the collaboration with Pixar, people still feel that sense of nostalgia as one of the great artistic crafts slowly wanes to this day. But The Lion King holds up because of its star power. Elton John and Tim Rice’s collaboration produced some of Disney’s best songs, characters Timon and Pumbaa were so lovable they sparked a long-running spin-off series, and vocal talents from Rowan Atkinson, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Nathan Lane, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons and Matthew Broderick are strong.

Perhaps the best way to sum it up is simply to imagine those Europeans attempting to sing ‘The Circle of Life’ with great gusto. In broken English, yes, but that just shows the reach that The Lion King, like most Disney films of the 90s, had and continue to have. They hadn’t seen the film for over a decade but the love and admiration for it was undeniably apparent. It’s a film that still manages to produce laughter and tears, with great innuendos and a beautiful story that stands as a reminder of the importance of family. US and UK audiences chose this over Brad Pitt’s Oscar-buzz performance in Moneyball, which speaks volumes.

Things may come and go, but The Lion King – whether in 3D or not – has already proved it stands the test of time. Hakuna matata!

Follow the author Katina Vangopoulos on Twitter.

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