Persuasive Essay on 'The Lion King'

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This may sound very archaic but: 'What is the use of man winning the world, if he loses his soul?' This phrase repeated endlessly, even on the big screen, can be applied to Disney standards and its new live-action remakes, increasingly referred to as dry remakes, as in the case of 'The Lion King' (The Lion King, 2019). The level of hyperrealism and visual perfection that director Jon Favreau's film reaches is from another world but along the way, the animated classic lost its soul.

To this day, 'The Lion King' (The Lion King, 1994) is still the highest-grossing Disney movie in the United States, so it was only a matter of time for this remake to reach the big screens. Such a task remained in the hands of Favreau, a director with all the necessary experience after the event of 'The Jungle Book' (The Jungle Book, 2016). The only ‘real’ of this movie is the impressively beautiful landscapes of Africa and the voices of a star-studded cast that tries to bring these protagonists to life, created based on ones and zeros. 'The Lion King' may represent a first - a film a bit hard and confronting for children and full of emotions, but the live-action lacks the appeal and sensitivity that was instilled in the animated version. Favreau's translation is much closer to a National Geographic documentary where the animals speak without too many expressions, often without correlation with the voices behind them (Snetiker, 2019).

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We can argue long and hard about the technological wonder it represents, but what is the grace of a story that, besides being boring, does not arouse any emotion in the viewer? 'The Lion King' is a tasteless film narratively speaking, even without running from the original material. Unlike an adventure like 'Babe, the Brave' (Babe, 1995), the adventures of this Simba have little and nothing to offer, and even a documentary like The March of the Penguins (La Marche de l'empereur, 2005) can hit us more in emotions. The comparisons may seem somewhat random, but if Favreau wants to get attached to his hyperrealism, let the consequences be banked.

We are facing a correct, totally unnecessary, visually stunning film that speaks to a new audience at the same time as the followers of the original film. Unlike other live-action films, it lacks the “show” factor when it comes to its musical numbers, and it even costs it to recreate iconic moments like “Can You Feel Love Tonight” (Can You Feel the Love Tonight). The few comedy steps give rhythm and freshness to the plot that seems to want to constantly emphasize naturalism, although we are facing a group of talkative and singsongy animals that barely move their mouths. This particular remake once again brings out the debate about these new versions that exploit nostalgia to the fullest and rarely bring anything new to what is already known. Favreau strives to do an impeccable job, and he succeeds halfway since he is no longer able to rescue that emotional fibber that his creatures do have in 'The Jungle Book.'

The only six films that exceeded one million viewers this year have the image of the castle at the beginning of their credits. Among them is Toy Story 4, which is the most-watched title in the history of the United States, and at the close of this note, it was about to exceed 5.5 million entries. To that (every year more) select group of millionaires will be added “The Lion King”.

The first few minutes of “The Lion King” leaves the jaw on the floor. But not for what is told. The content, as stated, transits the same posts as the 1994 version: the public presentation of Simba, heir to the throne occupied by King Mufasa; his death during a stampede of wildebeest orchestrated by his uncle Scar (perhaps the most detestable villain in all of Disney's history); the departure of the son pierced by guilt; the encounter with the meerkat Timón and the wild boar Pumba (who here have a greater prominence and are deliberately devoted to verbal comedy); the 'Hakuna Matata sung in an assembly sequence that illustrates Simba's passage to adulthood; his last return to avenge his father. The astonishment comes from hyperrealism elevated to its maximum expression as if all the previous digital animation films had been a purifying practice to reach what was reached now.

What did it get? To textures defined even in their infinitesimal details, to animals that move each and every one of their hairs and muscles when they walk, to scenarios that could quietly be natural, to rivers that perfectly replicate the flow of water. It is impossible not to be ecstatic about the technical prodigy size. But when the eye gets used, the heady effect goes out. The film, then, is bound to go beyond its aesthetic exercise character. Here the problems begin: everything goes well with hyperrealism, but there are already hundreds, thousands of documentaries that portray the dynamics of the fauna of the African savanna. And The Lion King is not a National Geographic documentary. Or at least it shouldn't be (Edwards, 2018).

Animated cinema always appealed to expressionism to rate the different stages of the story and the emotions of its characters. Here, on the other hand, everything that cannot be shown must adhere to the coordinates of the real. And nothing is further from 'the real thing' than a lion talking to a wild boar, or a group of hyenas tapping to co-rule the kingdom with Scar (Zacharek, 2019).

There is an insurmountable distance between content and form, between the suspension of disbelief that the first requires and the attachment to the photographic of the second, which turns the Lion King into a vivid but icy, sympathetic but heartless film, and, the worst, with very little capacity for empathy.

The first thing that comes to mind when we see the relaunching of The Lion King is full and pure Nostalgia, but why? In principle, because those of us who are already a little old in years and this is part of the good memories of our childhood with already 25 years from its first premiere, the promising version generates in many contemporaries that feeling of expectation looking for surprises and evoking all those emotions of the first film. It is in the first film that sets the example of great professionalism in the search to generate scenes and situations that really led you to feel the anguish, despair, and the search of our character to achieve his style in that immense and inhospitable wild land, For this, a great team of artists studied, researched and captured in every detail of their characters and scenarios, a series of elements between expressions, color, and meticulous narrative elements always raised to take us step by step to a whole plot line that was distilled throughout the entire movie.

We cannot ignore then that 2D to 3D is the step to a better technique, it is simply a fresh proposal and this brings a great responsibility in any adaptation because we as spectators look for surprises, something new, and the requirement to preserve that magic that remained in our minds for all these years. In my opinion, here is the faux pas of the new Lion King; We are not taking to the cinema to see the quality of the CG - the photorealism of the scenes, the perfect simulation of the lighting conditions, and the magnificent lion manes. For a viewer, this is implicated and is taken for granted. It is good to say then that a painting by Michaelangelo, for example, when “staged” in a similar manner - taking care of all the details so that it looks exactly the same or even better - more realistic. The brush strokes on the canvas are not noticeable which makes this second version more valuable and therefore better.

So, what do we expect from this type of work? We expect innovation, surprises, and new emotions. We already know in advance what happened in the original movie, we know that Simba has a conflict with his uncle, that he loses his father, etc, etc. With all of the technical resources available, all fans expect something really good, the heavy work from the script to adapt a fresh story while preserving the spirit. So the audience expects that after 25 years of making a masterpiece, the remake produces new information or different plots from the original like Scar is not the bad guy and dies instead of Mufasa, or if the hyenas help Simba, who is left is a blow and a strong change but not less interesting, evaluate that it was not possible to do in the first and with our current resources finally release those new scenes to add to the previous ones and have the two films to have an excellent audio-visual experience.

Furthermore, I can say that this 'error' is recurrent in many other live-action remakes, such as adaptations of Japanese animated series like “Full Metal Alchemist” or “Death Note”, and again many will come out to say they were very horrendous anyway. Here is the problem in which the 2D version overshadowed the live-action version, a clear example that shows that the technique is what is going to make something successful. In “Full Metal Alchemist”, for example, everything felt notably false in an inexplicable way and without a clear foundation. The main protagonist had a clear European appearance and connection and many of the designs of the secondary characters were evidenced during the whole multicultural series and this was not a total fake case where a Japanese actor tried to hiding or creating the illusion through make-up, trying to give it that 'appearance' that clashed with our perception of the ordinary world.

In Death Note, they totally destroyed the construction and representation of an excellent character with a totally marked personality such as Light Yagami and it was clear that the scriptwriters or the director did not understand how to represent this one of the strengths of the series, you must be a fan, you must understand the story and not only have it as a reference to create what allows your own perception of the echoes and is that we see a waste of resources in something that could simply be a sweeping success.

In conclusion, one of the great purposes of cinematographic pieces is to evoke emotions and make the viewer identify with them. Technology in the modern era helps facilitate, many times, animation processes also show a lot of realism within the animated universe, but you have to be very careful not to abuse these resources because many times so much realism ends that emotional component that It makes so many of the animations that we love so much since childhood. Finally evoking the nostalgia of the viewer as an advertising trick can be a very counterproductive strategy because, in the end, the viewer will lose interest in the type of productions that the producer conceives in the future.

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Persuasive Essay on ‘The Lion King’. (2023, November 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
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