It’s the Circle of Life. And it Moves Us All. Lion King Review and Giveaway

Lion King

I think part of what makes Disney animated films so memorable is how they reach in to the core of life’s lessons and messages and give back, through songs, laughter and amazing visuals. The Lion King is no exception to this rule. I remember when it first came out back in 1994, I was finishing up college and I bought the soundtrack on cassette and listened to it in my car, in between Liz Phair and Julianna Hatfield. The songs were so moving and catchy that I had no embarrassment rolling up to class with “Hakuna Matata” blasting in my speakers. Trust me, I was cool*.
*not in any way 😉

Being a huge Howard Ashman/Alan Menken fan, I was one of those skeptical about this new collaboration between Tim Rice and Elton John. Just one listen to the soundtrack made me a believer, however. The “Circle of Life” is poetry and truth in song:

From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There’s more to see than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
There’s far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high
Through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round

It’s the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life

It’s hard to imagine the task of putting the very definition of life on the planet into song, but there it is. Add to that the beautiful landscapes, skies and animal interactions unfolding before us, and you have a recipe for yet another tear-inducing scene in a Disney film.

While my family had The Lion King on vhs, it had been quite some time, with my oldest cubs at 11 and 12 and nary a VCR in the house. When Disney sent me the new Diamond Edition Blu-ray+DVD combo pack, I was excited to share it with my littlest guy, almost 3. My oldest children and I had just seen The Lion King in 3-D and I was blown away by the animation yet again, and it was as if my kids were seeing it for the first time. I loved hearing them say “Oh yeah, I remember this song!” and of course, checking to see if I was crying at certain parts of the movie. (I did.)

Even I had forgotten the hysterical jokes and one-liners in this film. The Lion King is a classic which could have been released today just as well as nearly 20 years ago.”What’s a motto?” “Nothing, whats a motto with you?” never fails to make me giggle. The life-lessons of not running away from your past or your problems and rising to both a challenge and doing what’s right are still powerful today. The themes of the loss of a loved one may go over the heads of some little fans, but older kids and adults can see how those who have passed are always with us, no matter how far away they may seem.

The DVD bonus feature is a fun behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the film, hosted by Don Hahn, producer of The Lion King, many other Disney animation productions and the DisneyNature films, including the upcoming Chimpanzee, due out in 2012. The Blu-ray bonus features offer a look at deleted scenes, and songs, as well as “bloopers,” a gallery, sing-a-long and more. Check out this trailer below:

The Lion King Diamond Edition hits the savanna tomorrow- 10/4 and one lucky winner could win a Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack here on Zannaland. Just enter below by commenting with your favorite memory of The Lion King – it could be a song, a character, a joke, whatever made you love the film. Contest ends October 7, winner randomly drawn and announced October 8. Good luck – it is time!  Contest has ended.

Congrats to Adam Goldman for having comment #5 – he is the winner of the Lion King Blu-ray+DVD Combo pack! Thanks to everyone for sharing your wonderful Lion King memories, I really enjoyed reading them.

  • My favorite part of lion king is when zazu starts singing its a small world…oh and the “Whats a motto?” joke

  • Heh, my memory is not exactly of the movie, but of my sister and I being really bored one summer and re-enacting all of the songs along with the soundtrack for our parents. We really got into it, and a good time was had by all, haha.

  • Brandon

    I really love Hakuna Matata and the message it offers.  I try to incorporate this message into my life on a daily basis

  • My favourite memory is when my cousin showed me the Timon & Pumbaa hula scene, which he could recite from memory. Good times.

    Also, I used to love the Timon & Pumbaa show on ToonDisney. Really sad that very few people know about it. 😉

  • Adam Goldman

    There are so many amazing things about this movie. It easily has the single greatest opening of any Disney film ever. The wildebeest stampede is certainly a very powerful scene as well. Scar is a very sinister character and he has some of the movie’s best lines. The carefree attitude of Timon and Pumbaa causes much delight.

    But I think my most favorite moment in The Lion King is Simba ‘s reaction after he is caught going to the elephant graveyard. It’s a simple scene of a massive horizon of savanna broken only by the cub heads of Simba and Nala. Simba crouches down in the grass out of shame… My favorite moment of the film.

    Thank you for this absolutely wonderful review. It was so very well written with poignant little personal touches thrown in. I like that in a movie review (as I did with your earlier review of Dumbo!) Thank you.

    • Congrats, Adam! You have won the Lion King Giveaway! Please email with your mailing info. Enjoy the movie!

  • Abby Earl

    What’s not to love about The Lion King? I love when Zazu is trapped in Scar’s cave and being made to sing the coconut song. I love when an adult Simba encounters Rafiki and he knocks some sense in to him. The montage during I Just Can’t Wait to Be King is amazing animation.
    And The Lion King got me interested in Elton John for the first time at age 9…and I still listen to him!

  • My favorite moments of the lion king have to be around the songs.   Love the drums and the emotions each song brings out in me.  

    Good luck to everyone entering!!

  • Amy Christiansen

    I love the part where Rafiki shows Simba that his father lives in him. Its so sad, yet important. I also love the little hula scene with Timon and Pumbaa. Too funny!

  • I’ll share the reason that I have re-fallen in love for The Lion King… In recent years I hadn’t really been “Feeling the Love Tonight” for The Lion King. But after a recent trip to WDW and seeing The Festival of the Lion King for the first time, it really reopened my eyes to the film! I had always heard how great the show was, but just thought it was hype. Then one cold late December morning we thought being inside to see a show was better than freezing outside in the cold. The show did more than warm us up, we really found it amazing! Even my wife, who would probably rank The Lion King as her least favorite disney movie thought it was amazing! 

  • Anonymous

    My favorite memory of The Lion King is seeing the preview for it at Disney MGM Studios at the end of the animation tour. This was either 1993 or early 1994. They casually told us that we’d be watching a scene from a new Disney film then they played us the entire Circle of Life opening scene. It was surprising, powerful, regal, and just beautiful. I was an early teenager at the time so I tried very hard to hide the fact that the trailer made me cry.

  • mary beth

    “What, you want me to dress in drag and do the hula?”  Timon

    LOL, it still cracks me up!!

  • Stephanie

    My favorite memory of The Lion King is finding out that I wasn’t the only middle schooler crying during it.

  • One of my favorites is when pumba says it’s mr pig to you.  I also love the Hakuna Matata.  🙂

    We absolutely LOVE the The Festival of the Lion King at Animal Kingdom.

    Thank you for the chance to win. 

  • When I was in elementary school for the talent show I did “Just Can’t Wait To Be King” (yes, I’m a girl) and couldn’t go anywhere outside of school without my stuffed Simba. I was absolutely head over heels for that movie and made my parents take me to see it over and over (…and over)!

  • Sean E

    I love how Ed the hyena can only laugh. I also remember watching the wildebeest stampede for the first time and how I was blown away by the computer animation.

  • Ani G W

    My fave part is the circle of life song.

  • MapleMouseMama

    I have loved The Lion King since the moment I first saw it.  I can remember trying to hunt down a copy of it on VHS!  It was impossible to find. I finally found a used copy that my kids still watch to this day.  A DVD version would sure be a nice change 🙂 Thanks for the opportunity Suzannah!

  • Anonymous

    I love the first scene.. the music and the animation… It is just breathtaking!

  • Anonymous

    Loved seeing it with my family when it first came out. We all laughed and cried together. So many memories of Timon and Pumbaa jokes too 😉