This majestic experience from the Disney animators stars a great beloved lion who speaks with the authority of James Earl Jones and teaches the legacies of love, honour and fair play to his young cub prince, Simba, the cutest thing since Bambi.
Singing, dancing crocodiles, baboons, giraffes and happy hippos fill the jungle with songs by Elton John and Tim Rice until an awesome wildebeest stampede kills the king and forces Simba into disgraceful exile.
From here, The Lion King uses colourful characters and beautiful animation that seems three-dimensional to create a moral allegory with the range and dimension of a Shakespearean tragedy.
The prissy, villainous uncle (voiced by Jeremy Irons) plotting the death of the king, the downfall of the prince (Matthew Broderick) – and the way Simba finds the courage and humanity to return home in time to save the animals with the aid of faithful fools and knaves – may remind you of everything from Hamlet to Henry V, but it’s all accomplished with charm, sweetness and a great deal of very hip humour.
A carefree meerkat and a warthog with poor table manners and appalling personal hygiene are instant classics. Equally inspired are Whoopi Goldberg and Cheech Marin, as the vocal alter egos of a dopey army of murderous, scruffy hyenas.
As Disney classics go, this one will stay around forever.
James Earl Jones
Jonathan Taylor Thomas