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The Lion King is a 1994 American animated musical mystery feature film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures on June 24, 1994. It is the thirty-second animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series. The story takes place in a kingdom of anthropomorphic lions in Africa, and was influenced by the biblical tales of Joseph and Moses, and the William Shakespeare plays Hamlet. The film was produced during a period known as the Disney Renaissance. This was directed by Rob Minkoff and Roger Allers, produced by Don Hahn, and screenplay by Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts and Linda Woolverton. The voice cast includes James Earl Jones as voice of the great king Mufasa, Jonathan Taylor Thomas as voice of Simba as a cub, Matthew Broderick as voice of Adult Simba, Moira Kelly as Simba's girlfriend Nala, Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella both as voice of a talking meerkat Timon and a warthog Pumbaa and Jeremy Irons as the king's bad brother Scar and the Hyenas included Whoopi Goldberg is Shenzi, Cheech Marin is Banzai and Jim Cummings is Ed. It tells the story of Simba, a young lion who is to take his father Mufasa's place as king. However, after Simba's uncle Scar kills Mufasa, he must stop his uncle from conquering the Pride Lands and avenge his father.

Development of The Lion King begin in 1987 during a meeting between Jeffrey Katzenberg, Roy E. Disney and Peter Schneider while promoting Oliver & Company in Europe. Thomas Disch wrote a film treatment, and Woolverton developed the first scripts while directed by George Scribner, being later replaced by Rob Minkoff and Roger Allers creative team directors. Production begin on The Lion King in 1987, while still in producion on Oliver & Company in Europe, this film was originally directed by George Scribner have been working on Oliver & Company in Europe, with most of the animators inexperienced or interested in animals as most of the Disney team wanted to work on Pocahontas instead. Some time after the staff traveled to Hell's Gate National Park to research on the film's setting and animals, Scribner left production disagreeing with the decision to turn the film into a musical, and was replaced by Minkoff. When Hahn joined the project, he was dissatisfied with the script and the story was promptly rewritten. Nearly 20 minutes of animation sequences took place at Disney-MGM Studios in Florida. Computer animation was also used in several scenes, most notably in the wildebeest stampede scene.

The Lion King was released on June 24, 1994 to a positive reaction from critics, who praised the film for its music and story. With over earnings of over US$951 million worldwide as of 2011, this film is the highest-grossing Disney animated film of all-time ever made in the United States of America, and the 16th-highest-grossing feature film. The Lion King garnered two Academy Awards for its achievement in music and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, with five special songs for The Lion King were written by Elton John and Tim Rice, with an original score composed by Hans Zimmer.

A Broadway adaptation of the film opened in 1997, and won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Disney followed the film with two direct-to-video films, the sequel The Lion King II: Simba's Pride (1998) and the prequel The Lion King 1½ (2004).

Plot

In the Pride Lands of Africa, a lion rules over the other animals as king. As king Mufasa shows the lands to his son Simba, he tells him that Simba cannot go to a shadowy place beyond the borders. Later that day, Simba's envious uncle Scar tells him that the shadowy place is in fact an elephant graveyard. Simba's curiosity is piqued, and he convinces his best friend Nala, a female lion cub, to come with him. At the graveyard, the cubs are attacked by three spotted hyenas, Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, before Mufasa rescues them. The hyenas are in fact friends of Scar, who then plots with them to take over the Pride Lands.

On Scar's orders, the hyenas stampede a large pack of wildebeest into a gorge where Simba is. Mufasa rescues Simba, but as Mufasa attempts to flee by climbing the gorge's walls, Scar throws his brother back into the stampede, killing him. After Simba finds Mufasa's body in the gorge, Scar tricks him into thinking that Mufasa's death is his fault, and afterwards advises him to run away and to never come back. As Simba leaves, Scar orders the hyenas to go after Simba, but the cub is able to escape. Scar then announces to the pride that both Mufasa and Simba were killed and steps forward as the new king.

Simba, now far from home, collapses in the desert from exhaustion, but is found by Timon and Pumbaa, a meerkat and a warthog who nurse him back to health. Timon and Pumbaa then take Simba in, and the lion grows on a carefree life under the motto "hakuna matata". Years later, Simba rescues Timon and Pumbaa from a hungry lioness, who turns out to be Nala. The two reconcile and begin falling in love. Nala tries to get Simba to come back home by saying that because of Scar allowing the hyenas to live in the Pride Lands, it has become a wasteland with not enough food and water. Still feeling guilt over his father's death, Simba refuses to return and storms off.

Wise mandrill Rafiki tracks Simba down, telling that Mufasa is still "alive" and then takes Simba to a pond and tells him to look into the water. Seeing only his reflection at first, Simba looks harder and sees an image of Mufasa. Rafiki says that Mufasa lives within him as a large storm cloud appears overhead and a specter of Mufasa speaks out to Simba, saying that he has forgotten who he is and that he must take his rightful place as the true king of Pride Rock. Simba then realizes that he can no longer run from his past and goes back home. Nala, Timon and Pumbaa follow him, and agree to help him fight.

At the Pride Lands, Simba confronts Scar on Pride Rock. Scar backs Simba up to the end of Pride Rock to the point where Simba slips over the edge, dangling by his paws. Scar taunts him and then whispers that he killed Mufasa. The enraged Simba leaps back up and pins Scar, forcing his uncle to reveal the truth to the other lions. A fight ensues between the hyenas and lionesses while Simba chases and confronts Scar alone at the top of Pride Rock. Scar begs Simba for mercy, saying he is family and accusing the hyenas of planning everything. Simba says he does not believe Scar anymore, but spares his life and tells him to run away and never return. Scar meekly walks past him, but afterwards attacks his nephew. After a fierce battle, Simba triumphs and throws Scar off of Pride Rock. Scar survives the fall, but is attacked and killed by the hyenas, who overheard his attempt to betray them.

With Scar and the hyenas gone, Simba descends from the top of Pride Rock where he is acknowledged by the pride as the rain falls again. Sometime later, Pride Rock is restored to its former glory and Simba looks down happily at his kingdom with Nala, Timon, and Pumbaa by his side; Rafiki presents Simba and Nala's newborn cub to the inhabitants of the Pride Lands and the circle of life continues.

Cast

  • James Earl Jones as voice of Mufasa
  • Jonathan Taylor Thomas as voice of Simba as a cub
  • Matthew Broderick as voice of Adult Simba
  • Moira Kelly as voice of Nala
  • Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella both as voice of Timon and Pumbaa
  • Jeremy Irons as voice of Scar
  • Whoopi Goldberg is Shenzi, Cheech Marin is Banzai and Jim Cummings is Ed

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