Legacy Content

Toon Talk: Lion King DVD
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(c) Disney

Disc 2 begins with Jeremy Irons breathlessly extolling the “worldwide phenomenon? of The Lion King, which may explain why the bonus features are divided into world continents … or something like that. Really, there’s no logic behind this menu design, with the individual features scattered throughout and repeated multiple times within the individual sections. It's confusing and altogether slap-shod, so just skip the countries and go straight to the icons at the bottom of the screen to watch the bulk of the features, then go back afterward and catch the ones you’ve not already seen.

  • Story: Another annoying trend in Disney DVDs lately is dividing the features into separate chapter headings, when it would make a lot more sense to just have, say, one feature on story instead of three sub-features. At least throughout this disc, you can just click on “Play Journey? (a fancy way to say “Play All?) and watch them continuously as they logically should be. Anyway, this section delves into some of the heady themes of religion and mythology, not to mention Shakespeare’s Hamlet, that factored into, intentionally or not, the story of The Lion King.
  • Film: Originally titled King of the Jungle, the little movie about “lions in Africa? was at first the movie that nobody wanted to work on. This section also has features on the Production Research Trip to Africa, Art: African Influence (where it is revealed that the original design concept incorporated more African art and fabric designs, but it was deemed too abstract for the film’s epic scope; some of these tribal art concepts were still used in the “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King? number), Reflections (looking back on the film’s cultural impact), yet another Storyboard Process (I think its safe to say that everyone knows by now that storyboards look like a big comic strip), Production Design (informed by the works of legendary film director David Lean), Character Designs (the supervising animators chime in on their respective characters, including Mark Henn (young Simba), Ruben Aquino (adult Simba), Andreas Deja (Scar) and James Baxter (Rafiki), who mentions that mandrills normally don’t have tails like Rafiki does), Computer Animation (including rare animation tests for the wildebeests) and the Film Character Design Galleries (with narration by Disney voice fave Tony Jay).
  • Stage: an extensive section of the film’s transferal from screen to stage. The initial skepticism of Michael Eisner’s idea was silenced when avant-garde director Julie Taymor was brought aboard; she reinterpreted the story using masks, puppetry and other highly theatrical conceits, creating a Broadway musical like none other seen before. Also includes a Stage Musical Publicity Gallery.
  • Music: This film, which originally wasn’t even a musical, sure ended up with a lot of musicians working for it: songwriters Elton John and Tim Rice, score composer and producer Hans Zimmer, contributing producer Mark Mancina and contributing composer Lebo M, whose African chants gave thrilling voice to the entire production. Of special note here is the Audio Sequel section, detailing how the success of the film’s music and soundtrack spawned the Rhythm of the Pride Lands album, which in turn was instrumental in the creation of the Broadway musical. Also included here are the three original Lion King Music Videos: John’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight? and “Circle of Life? (the latter of which shows the original crocodiles from “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King?, as well several voice actor cameos) and Jimmy Cliff and Lebo M’s “Hakuna Matata? (which features the missing Timon verse) from the Rhythm album.
  • Animals: Introduced by Roy Disney (at the Tree of Life in the Animal Kingdom), this section is a variation of the Disneypedia features found on other titles; an educational mix of National Geographic-type archival footage and scenes from the film of Lions, Meerkats, Warthogs and Hyenas. Also includes the featurette Disney and Animals, a brief overview of the history of animals and nature in Disney productions, from Mickey Mouse and the True Life Adventures to Adventureland and Brother Bear.
  • Virtual Safari: Choose between a jeep or a boat and you’ll go on an adventure just like at the Kilimanjaro Safaris at the Animal Kingdom or the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland … complete with a pair of wisecracking guides in Timon and Pumbaa. Even with its limited computer animation, this is actually a lot of fun, with good sense of humor and several in-jokes for Disney fans (check out the souvenir photos at the end). There is mention that the upcoming DVD special editions of The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride and The Lion King 1 ½ will also feature similar safaris, and you can also access the Lion King 1 ½ Preview in this section.
  • Now that you have gone through all the icons, go to Asia to find the Multi-Language Reel (“Hakuna Matata? sung in Dutch, Mandarin, Korean and, a first for Disney films, Zulu, among other languages), a featurette on the film’s International Releases and Galleries featuring International Soundtrack Covers and International Large Format Release publicity.
  • Then you can then skip right over Africa, Australia, Europe and South America and go straight to North America: under Burbank, you’ll find DVD Sound Design (detailing how the film’s soundtrack was remastered for its Large Format rerelease); Orlando includes brief promos (read: commercials) for Disney’s Animal Kingdom park and the Animal Kingdom Lodge resort; New York just repeats the features already covered under “Stage?; and finally, Glendale, where the bulk of the remaining footage is located, including a compelling Storyboard to Film Comparison of the “Circle of Life? sequence, Early Concepts for the “Simba’s Coronation? and “Timon and Pumbaa find Simba? scenes, a complete storyboard and soundtrack for the Abandoned Scene “The Warthog Rhapsody? (an early song for Timon and Pumbaa, think “Under the Sea? with bugs. It was included on the Rhythm of the Pride Lands album and rumor has it that it will be adapted into “The Meerkat Rhapsody? for The Lion King 1 ½), an Early Presentation Reel (allowing a nice overview of early concept art), Art Design Galleries (again narrated by Tony Jay) and Effects Animation (for such key sequences as the “Circle of Life? and the stampede).