Set in a kingdom of lions in Africa, The Lion King tells the story of Simba (Swahili for lion), a lion cub who is to succeed his father, Mufasa, as King of the Pride Lands; however, after his paternal uncle Scar kills Mufasa to seize the throne, Simba is tricked into believing he was responsible for his father's death and flees into exile. After growing up in the company of the carefree outcasts Timon and Pumbaa, Simba receives valuable perspective from his childhood friend, Nala, and his shaman, Rafiki, before returning to challenge Scar to end his tyranny and take his place in the Circle of Life as the rightful king.
In the Pride Lands of Africa, a pride of lions rule over the kingdom from Pride Rock. King Mufasa 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.
After Simba grows into a cub, Mufasa shows him the Pride Lands and explains the responsibilities of kingship and the \"circle of life,\" which connects all living things. One day, Simba and his best friend Nala explore an elephant graveyard, where the two are chased by three spotted hyenas named Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed. Mufasa is alerted by his majordomo, the hornbill Zazu, and rescues the cubs. Though disappointed with Simba for disobeying him and putting himself and Nala in danger, Mufasa forgives him and explains that the great kings of the past watch over them from the night sky, from which he will one day watch over Simba. Scar, having planned the attack, visits the hyenas and convinces them to help him kill both Mufasa and Simba in exchange for hunting rights in the Pride Lands.
Scar sets a trap for Simba and Mufasa, luring Simba into a gorge and having the hyenas drive a large herd of wildebeest into a stampede to trample him. Mufasa saves Simba but winds up hanging perilously from the gorge's edge; he begs for Scar's help, but Scar throws Mufasa back into the stampede to his death. Scar tricks Simba into believing that the event was his fault and tells him to leave the kingdom and never return. Once Simba flees, Scar orders the hyenas to kill Simba, who manages to escape. Unaware of Simba's survival, Scar tells the pride that the stampede killed both Mufasa and Simba and steps forward as the new king, allowing the hyenas into the Pride Lands.
After he collapses in a desert, Simba is rescued by two outcasts, a meerkat and warthog named Timon and Pumbaa. Simba grows up with his two new friends in their oasis, living a carefree life under their motto \"hakuna matata\" (\"no worries\" in Swahili). Years later, an adult Simba rescues Timon and Pumbaa from a hungry lioness, who turns out to be Nala. Simba and Nala fall in love, and she urges him to return home, telling him that the Pride Lands have become drought-stricken under Scar's reign. Still feeling guilty over Mufasa's death, Simba refuses and storms off. He encounters Rafiki, who tells Simba that Mufasa's spirit lives on in him. Simba is visited by the spirit of Mufasa in the night sky, who tells him that he must take his place as king. After Rafiki advises him to learn from the past instead of running from it, Simba decides to return to the Pride Lands.
Aided by his friends, Simba sneaks past the hyenas at Pride Rock and confronts Scar. Scar taunts Simba over his supposed role in Mufasa's death and backs him to the edge of the rock, where he reveals to Simba that he is the one who killed Mufasa. Shattered by the revelation, an enraged Simba retaliates and forces Scar to reveal the truth to the rest of the pride. A battle breaks out, and Timon, Pumbaa, Rafiki, Zazu, and the lionesses fend off the hyenas. Scar attempts to escape, but is cornered by Simba at a ledge near the top of Pride Rock. Scar begs for mercy and blames his actions on the hyenas; Simba spares Scar's life but, quoting what Scar told him long ago, orders Scar to leave the Pride Lands forever. Scar refuses and attacks his nephew, but after a brief battle, Simba throws him off the ledge to the ground below. Scar survives the fall, but the hyenas, who overheard him betraying them, maul him to death.
With Scar and the hyenas gone, Simba takes his place as king and Nala becomes his queen. With the Pride Lands restored, Rafiki presents Simba and Nala's newborn cub to the assembled animals, continuing the circle of life.
The idea for The Lion King is widely disputed. According to Charlie Fink (then-Walt Disney Feature Animation's vice president for creative affairs), he approached Jeffrey Katzenberg, Roy E. Disney, and Peter Schneider with a Bambi in Africa idea with lions. Katzenberg balked at the idea at first, but nevertheless encouraged Fink and his writers to develop a mythos to explain how lions serviced other animals by eating them. Another anecdote states that the idea was conceived during a conversation between Katzenberg, Roy E. Disney, and Schneider on a flight to Europe during a promotional tour.[k] During the conversation, the topic of a story set in Africa came up, and Katzenberg immediately jumped at the idea. Katzenberg decided to add elements involving coming of age and death, and ideas from personal life experiences, such as some of his trials in his career in politics, saying about the film, \"It is a little bit about myself.\"
Sometime later, Linda Woolverton, who was also writing Beauty and the Beast (1991), spent a year writing several drafts of the script, which was titled King of the Beasts and then King of the Jungle. The original version of the film was vastly different from the final product. The plot centered on a battle between lions and baboons, with Scar being the leader of the baboons, Rafiki being a cheetah, and Timon and Pumbaa being Simba's childhood friends. Simba would not only leave the kingdom but become a \"lazy, slovenly, horrible character\" due to manipulations from Scar, so Simba could be overthrown after coming of age. By 1990, producer Thomas Schumacher, who had just completed The Rescuers Down Under (1990), decided to attach himself to the project \"because lions are cool\". Schumacher likened the King of the Jungle script to \"an animated National Geographic special\".
George Scribner, who had directed Oliver & Company (1988), was the initial director of the film, being later joined by Roger Allers, who was the lead story man on Beauty and the Beast (1991). Allers worked with Scribner and Woolverton on the project, but temporarily left the project to help rewrite Aladdin (1992). Eight months later, Allers returned to the project, and brought Brenda Chapman and Chris Sanders with him. In October 1991, several of the lead crew members, including Allers, Scribner, Chapman, Sanders, and Lisa Keene visited Hell's Gate National Park in Kenya, in order to study and gain an appreciation of the environment for the film. After six months of story development work, Scribner decided to leave the project upon clashing with Allers and the producers over their decision to turn the film into a musical, since Scribner's intention was of making a documentary-like film more focused on natural aspects. By April 1992, Rob Minkoff had replaced Scribner as the new co-director.
Don Hahn joined the production as the film's producer because Schumacher was promoted to Vice President of Development for Walt Disney Feature Animation. Hahn found the script unfocused and lacking a clear theme, and after establishing the main theme as \"leaving childhood and facing up to the realities of the world\", asked for a final retool. Allers, Minkoff, Chapman, and Hahn then rewrote the story across two weeks of meetings with directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, who had finished directing Beauty and the Beast (1991). One of the definite ideas that stemmed from the meetings was to have Mufasa return as a ghost. Allers also changed the character Rafiki from a more serious court advisor into a wacky shaman. The title was also changed from King of the Jungle to The Lion King, as the setting was not the jungle but the savannah. It was also decided to make Mufasa and Scar brothers, as the writers felt it was much more interesting if the threat came from someone within the family. Allers and Minkoff pitched the revised story to Katzenberg and Michael Eisner, to which Eisner felt the story \"could be more Shakespearean\"; he suggested modeling the story on King Lear. Maureen Donley, an associate producer, countered, stating that the story resembled Hamlet. Continuing on the idea, Allers recalled Katzenberg asking them to \"put in as much Hamlet as you can\", to which they did. However, they felt it was too forced, and looked to other heroic archetypes such as the stories of Joseph and Moses from the Bible.
The voice actors were chosen for how they fit and could add to the characters; for instance, James Earl Jones was cast because the directors found his voice \"powerful\" and similar to a lion's roar. Jones remarked that during the years of production, Mufasa \"became more and more of a dopey dad instead of [a] grand king\".
\"The Lion King was considered a little movie because we were going to take some risks. The pitch for the story was a lion cub gets framed for murder by his uncle set to the music of Elton John. People said, 'What Good luck with that.' But for some reason, the people who ended up on the movie were highly passionate about it and motivated.\"
Computers helped the filmmakers present their vision in new ways. For the \"wildebeest stampede\" sequence, several distinct wildebeest characters were created in a 3D computer program, multiplied into hundreds, cel shaded to look like drawn animation, and given randomized paths down a mountainside to simulate the real, unpredictable movement of a herd. Five specially trained animators and technicians spent more than two years creating the two-and-a-half-minute stampede. The Computer Animation Production System (CAPS) helped simulate camera movements such as tracking shots, and was employed in coloring, lighting, and particle effects. 59ce067264