The Lion King is an animated film, an on-stage musical, and now a live-action film. All three incarnations tell the story of Simba, a young lion who admires his father, Mufasa. Mufasa is the King of the Pride Lands and Simba, as his son, will become the king once Mufasa’s time to rule the pride lands is done. When Mufasa’s rule comes to an unexpected end, his brother Scar tells Simba that it’s his fault. Simba leaves the kingdom and Scar becomes the next king of the pride. Later in the film, Simba’s childhood friend, Nala, finds him and reminds him of his ability to serve the inhabitants of the land he loves. Simba returns to the pride lands, confronts his uncle, and regains his right to the throne.
In the telling of the story, The Lion King uses animals as all of the characters. The creators gave the animals spoken dialogue, and music, to convey their thoughts, feelings, and interactions with each other. Much like a fable, the animals in the tale have very human characteristics. Unlike some animated stories, The Lion King is not based upon a fairy tale—and is not taken directly from any one story. Instead, it is an original story that was inspired by several other stories. Some people have suggested that parts of the film remind them of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, as well as stories from the Bible; and the African legend of Sundiata Keita, a West African King.
Anyone who has watched any version of the story will remember the stunning visual imagery which is almost used as another character in the film and stage productions. Who can forget seeing baby Simba being held up for the rest of the pride land animals to see? Or the image of Mufas and Simba looking up at the nighttime sky, full of stars? The photograph above is of a beautiful starlit sky, in an area where street lights and nighttime traffic are far enough away that you can see almost every star.
Artists and writers of every generation have been inspired by the magnificence of nature. Families of animals, trees swaying gently in a breeze, or a flash of lightening in the distance have all inspired music, dance, and theatre artists to create. Using some aspect of nature as your inspiration, create a visual image of your own. Take your time, put on some inspiring music, and allow your mind to wander. If you don’t feel comfortable drawing or painting, look through magazine or other printed material and create a collage with your images. Use software on your computer to put together a piece of artwork that makes you happy.
Now, use your visual creation to inspire a story. Like your image, take your time. Look at your painting or drawing, and think about what types of beings inhabit that space. Are they animals, like those characters in The Lion King? Or are they tiny creatures, like sprites or fairies, that live beneath the tall grass? Do they have royal families that rule their land? What are the challenges of living as they do? And, what are their greatest joys? Allow the visual to inspire you!