Disney Steals From the Best - In This Case Themselves!
Disney, for all practical purposes, invented the animated feature, and for decades pioneered the genre’s significant advances like special effects animation, and the multi-plane camera. The studio was riding high in the late 80s and early 90s with top-notch films like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. Toward the end of this new Golden Age of cell animation, Disney released one of their best – The Lion King. The film is a little less humorous than past efforts, but it’s law-of-the-jungle theme (and some of the characters) harkened back to The Jungle Book. Like the Jungle Book, we have a child (this time a lion cub), and a tyrant ruler cat wants him dead. (Jeremy Irons’ portrayal of Scar in The Lion King even sounds like George Sanders’ portrayal of Shere Khan in The Jungle Book.) He’s hidden away in the jungle where he befriends some fun-loving, off-the-wall jungle animals that provide not only comic relief, but some of the best songs of the film, before a climactic battle ends the tyrant’s rule by fire. In fact, the parallels to The Jungle Book are so numerous and prevalent that one could call it a remake. But no matter, just like that film it’s highly enjoyable, and a highpoint for Disney. Unfortunately, just like that film, which marked the end of Disney’s first Golden Age, The Lion King was the last gasp of Disney’s second Golden Age. After this came a long steady, slow decline into mediocrity beginning with well-worn tales like Pocahontas, Hercules and Tarzan, ultimately leading to such forgettable fare such as Treasure Planet and Home on the Range. A hole from which they might never have re-emerged were it not for the saving grace of Pixar.