It was the summer of 1994. I was 7 and living in a hotel out in Wayne, New Jersey. The movie of the year had just come out, and I was all too thrilled to see it. But while enjoying this Disney film, I had to endure endless whining and complaining from the adults at the theater out by the mall. Even my mom was having a conniption fit, but I just didn’t get it.
I didn’t quite understand what all the complaining was about until the following week, when I started reading books like crazy about my then favorite animal, the lion.
But most of my understanding didn’t come until after I finished reading Hamlet (My 2nd least favorite Shakespeare play. Spoiler, everybody dies.) and then more so after I started researching the anime Leo the Lion. (I don’t count the movie. It’s not a part of the continuity. In fact, skip it.) So now watching this again as an adult, I have a few issues with the continuity of The Lion King.
Now of course, I’m not an idiot. I can see that some things had to be changed to make this a kids’ film. But considering how dark this movie is even after the multitudes of re-writes this must have gone through, I still have a hard time seeing why this was pitched to the G-rated market. (Some scenes are better for tweens.)
So here are my issues:
1. The opening scene. Why are all of the zebras, antelopes, gazelles, giraffes, hippos and elephants coming out to see Simba’s ceremony? Lions EAT these animals. Of all the things these animals could appear for, you would think that the birth of he-who-will-eat-them would be the last event they’d want to show up early for.
2. Rafiki is a mandrill. Mandrills have blue bottoms. Baboons have red bottoms. So in Lion King 1 and a half, why does Nala (supposedly smart and understanding of other species) refer to him as a baboon?
3. Rafiki is a mandrill. Mandrills and lions do not get along. If he was a real mandrill, he would have flung Simba into the nearest wall, swung him by the tail and then dropkicked him off of Pride Rock.
4. Lions are born in litters of three. Why is Simba an only child?
5. Lions are born blind and remain that way for a few weeks. How was he able to gaze up at Rafiki’s stick?
6. I’m not surprised Scar looks the way he does. Once in every 15 or so litters, you get a lion cub that’s just plain messed up. I am surprised that Scar would want anything to do with Mufasa’s kingdom. Male lions venture off on their own by the time they’re what we would consider “late teens”. By now he should have his own pride and not even remember Mufasa. With this said, Mufasa shouldn’t even care that Scar wasn’t at the ceremony.
7. That reminds me. Why don’t Mufasa and Scar have another sibling?
8. Zazu is a bird. Lions eat birds. Why is he advising Mufasa and bossing around the other lions?
9. Mufasa is a morbid character! Every other line out of his face is about death, specifically his own. Why was this considered ok for children?
10. Why does Simba sing “Just can’t wait to be king”? This implies that he wants his father to die. That’s really the only way he’s getting the throne.
11. When a male lion has his own pride, the lionesses are in effect his concubines. Unless Nala’s father abandoned she and her mother (which can happen in the lion world) doesn’t this mean that Mufasa is her father too? Doesn’t this make Nala and Simba brother and sister? And in the sequel, does this mean that Kiara and Kovu are related too?
12. Disney did a great job of making Mufasa seem like a good father figure. Most male lions just laze about. The lioness does the hunting of prey and rearing of children.
13. Hyenas are not hunters. All of the scenes where the hyenas are attacking the lions are wrong. Hyenas are part of the dog family and are scavengers. They wait for another animal to kill and eat from whatever is available (generally zebras and gazelles) and then the hyenas eat whatever is left. Their main enemies are vultures, not lions.
14. The scene where Mufasa is disciplining Simba is wrong too. When a lion cub disobeys his father, the father eats the cub. Then the mother kills and eats the father. Then she is killed and eaten by the rest of the pride. Finally, the pride disbands, and each lioness searches for a new male. But I guess animating this would have cut the movie short and made it impossible to distribute with a G rating.
15. The “Be Prepared” number is wrong on so many levels. How on earth did this pass the MPAA? We have hyenas marching exactly like the Nazi’s, we have Scar singing gleefully about murdering his brother, we have hellfire and images of the hyenas playing with the dead, and one more thing… lions and hyenas have nothing to do with each other!
16. Is anybody else creped out by how close Simba and Scar are, prior to Mufasa’s death? Anybody? No? Ok.
17. Simba’s eyes keep changing from a bright yellow around the iris to white. Real lions have cat eyes. Last I looked they were white.
18. How did Mufasa’s death scene skirt past the MPAA? Considering how it was filmed, you would imagine all of the coalitions of 1994 jumping down each animator’s throat.
19. In 1994, one of the coalitions petitioned to have Elton John’s cover of “Circle of Life” remove the chanting in the opening lyrics. The chanting (for those without the original 1994 Cassette Tape) is the same chanting from the movie version of the song. So chanting you find offensive… but Scar pushing his brother to his death you find ok??
20. Simba snuggling Mufasa’s corpse. I can’t really be the only person finding this scene creepy and morbid. I even have a trading card of this scene, right after Simba’s done nibbling and gnawing at his color-changing-dead-dad’s ear. In fact, this was in all of the kiddie books too, now that I remember it. Even the bit with Scar sending the hyenas to kill Simba.
21. Timon is a meerkat. Pumbaa is a warthog. They are both lion food. And lucky that Simba at this point is damaged enough to make them his friends and adoptive parents. And why didn’t Timon want Pumbaa to say “fart”? At this point, we’ve already discussed death and murder, so I doubt anybody could be offended at it.
22. Timon and Pumbaa are clearly a couple. They adopt Simba. Simba grows up straight. This was in 1994. I’d like to imagine the rest of us can catch up with Disney.
23. Yes lions can eat grubs. Do we need to see it?
24. A lion cub is an adult at four years old. Simba looks to be about a year old almost when Timon and Pumbaa adopt him. (You can tell by the lack of spots and the rambunctious nature.) So the Hakuna Mattata number takes place during the coarse of three years. That is one long song!
25. On the HD print of the movie, you probably can’t see it too well, but in the VHS print, when Simba falls onto the dirt, you can read the word ‘SEX” in the sky. Now all of the Disney staffers have tried for years to say that it really spells “S.F.X.” but nobody has yet to buy it. Also, if you have a ridiculous amount of time on your hands, you can catch the offensive word in select scenes of Beauty and the Beat, Tangled, Aladdin, Pocahontas and if you really have too much time, The Little Mermaid.
26. Simba and Nala probably conceived Kiara in the reunion scene. Even at 7 years old, I knew lion sex when I saw it. Again, where was the MPAA?
27. Simba grows up to be a whiny, self-centered douche. There. I said it. And now that I think about it, he never really dealt with his emotions over Mufasa’s death. No really, think about it. Mufasa dies, Simba runs away, Hakuna Mattata!
28. The scene with Scar pimp-slapping Serabi was a shock to see in the theater. I wonder if he tried anything, like Hamlet’s uncle with Hamlet’s mother?
29. Real hyenas would not have killed Scar. This was also a gruesome visual.
30. When the original kid books for The Lion King came out, they listed Nala and Simba’s child as a boy. In the sequel, Kiara is a girl. Was this a misprint in the original books, a simple ret-conning of Kiara’s gender, or was there another cub that Rafiki dropped?
I know you shouldn’t take a cartoon so seriously, but really wasn’t anybody catching this at Disney?