Lion King in 3d?
Well this is disappointing.
I’m slightly late to the party in learning this, but apparently Disney is planning a re-release of The Lion King–in 3D. I find it hard to express how disgusting the idea of this seems to me. I actually watched The Lion King again with my little sister last week, and the strongest impression it made on me was that it’s the kind of movie that probably couldn’t be made today. My reasons:
Firstly, he moral of the story is too patriarchal and insufficiently individualistic. It’s about the duty of the true king to assume his responsibilities as king, and the importance of the other animals accepting his rightful authority, and there’s little about being yourself or not bowing to peer pressure. In fact, the most famous song, “Hakuna Matata,” meaning “no worries,” isn’t actually a denial of the importance of responsibility. It’s instead the cause of some of Simba’s moral failures–because he misinterprets it to mean “do whatever you want” rather than “don’t obsess over the past and instead do what you can to act correctly in the future.” It’s rather similar, I think, to Hamlet’s “the readiness is all.”
Second, the metaphysics are too explicit; yes, the animal-religion-spirituality-whatever is just vague nature and ancestor worship, but it’s also fairly explicitly correct. There’s a great scene where Timon, Pumbaa, and Simba look up at the stars and wonder what they are; Timon gives what moderns imagine a “mythical” explanation would be, saying the stars are fireflies trapped up in “that big bluish black thing.” Pumbaa gives a scientific explanation, saying they’re big balls of burning gas millions of miles away. Then Simba says they’re the great kings of the past watching down on them. This is more like what an actual mythical explanation would be–not giving random explanations for things not understood, but interpreting the grandeur of the universe as reflecting a spiritual and moral order. And Simba, not Pumbaa, is the one who the movie treats as correct.
Third, the tone of the movie is too serious–somewhere between epic and fable. It sustains a sense of gravitas that I find it hard to imagine in a contemporary kid’s movie. Yes, there are jokes, but they’re always subordinate to the general narrative thrust. But my point here isn’t just that it’s not mostly farce as so many contemporary kid’s movies are. There have been serious animated films recently–e.g. much of Pixar’s stuff, like The Incredibles. But The Incredibles is serious in a realistic way. It’s more like a modern novel than an ancient epic. And this applies to most recent kid’s movies I’ve seen that can be taken at all seriously. The only real exception is Kung Fu Panda, which attempts some of the epic seriousness of The Lion King–but it has too many self-consciousness, I think, and plays more like a straight action flick than an epic. It’s the difference between Shaolin Soccer and The Lord of the Rings.
And now for my point–I think that perhaps the key reason underlying these three is that The Lion King is 2d, hand-drawn, imagery, not 3d computer-generated imagery. It’s look reminded me almost of stained glass. This allows us to take the images as not a “realistic” imitation of reality, but a flattened, stylized portrayal of the moral forces at work in the world. I have yet to see a 3d animated movie that doesn’t look like a simplified version of the real world. Put simply: the Lion King flattens, The Incredibles simplifies. The former is epic; the latter novelistic. The Lion King’s epic nature is what allows it to be so patriarchal and spiritually serious.
And converting the Lion King to 3d completely ruins the its flatness.