The Lion King is a 1994 American animated musical drama film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 32nd Disney animated feature film, and the fifth animated film produced during a period known as the Disney Renaissance. The Lion King was directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, produced by Don Hahn, and has a screenplay credited to Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts, and Linda Woolverton. Its original songs were written by composer Elton John and lyricist Tim Rice, with a score by Hans Zimmer. The film features an ensemble voice cast. The story takes place in a kingdom of lions in Africa and was influenced by the Biblical stories of Joseph and Moses, and William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
In 2016, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. It is, as of December 2019, the only Disney film to have been dubbed in Zulu, the only African language aside from Arabic to have been used for a feature-length Disney dub.
The movie opens with a pride of lions, who rule over the animal kingdom from Pride Rock. King Mufasa’s and Queen Sarabi’s newborn son, Simba, is presented to the gathering animals by Rafiki the mandrill, the kingdom’s shaman and advisor. Mufasa’s younger brother, Scar, covets the throne and is angered by the birth of the new prince, as it means he is no longer first in line. This is the subject of an argument with first Mufasa’s majordomo, the hornbill Zazu, and then Mufasa himself.
A few years later, Mufasa shows a young Simba the Pride Lands and explains to him the responsibilities of kingship and the “circle of life”, which connects all living things. Meanwhile, Scar plots to eliminate Mufasa and Simba, so that he may become king.
Scar sets a trap for his brother and nephew by luring Simba into a gorge and having the hyenas drive a large herd of wildebeest into a stampede that will trample him into the gorge. Scar himself does not interfere to save Simba, but instead informs Mufasa of Simba’s peril, knowing that the king will rush to save his son.
Simba collapses in a desert and is attacked by vultures, but Timon and Pumbaa, a meerkat and warthog, who are fellow outcasts, chase away the vultures and bring him to the safety of a jungle. Simba grows up in the jungle with his two new friends, living a carefree life under the motto “hakuna matata” (“no worries” in Swahili). One day, Simba, now a young adult, rescues Timon and Pumbaa from a hungry lioness, who turns out to be Nala. She and Simba reunite and fall in love, and she urges him to return home, telling him that Pride Lands have become a drought-stricken wasteland under Scar’s reign.
Aided by his friends, Simba sneaks past the hyenas at Pride Rock and confronts Scar, who had just struck Sarabi. Scar taunts Simba over his role in Mufasa’s death and backs him to the edge of the rock, where he reveals to him that he murdered Mufasa.
Later, with Pride Rock restored to its usual state, Rafiki presents Simba and Nala’s newborn cub to the assembled animals, continuing the circle of life.