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At the start of Disney’s animated movie, ‘Lion King’, a lion cub (Simba) trembles at the scary glare of three Hyenas that have cornered him in a prohibited elephant graveyard. Simba growls fiercely but cannot frighten the Hyenas. Unfortunately for him, he will soon learn that his truancy will brand him a murderer. He will later cause the death of his father who tries to save him from a warthog’s stampede. He is accused of ‘killing’ his father and when his uncle takes over the leadership of the pridelands, he is excommunicated from the Lion’s society. He wonders to far away lands defined by abject suffering where survival calls for crime. He will return to the prideslands stronger after an encounter with his death father’s ghost to save his fellow lions from the tyranny of his selfish uncle.
Initially Simba rejoices in the happy and calm life of a cub in the Pridelands. He is the sole heir to King Mufasa who tirelessly takes in his entire father’s daily teachings in hunting, patiently endures his normal punishments for childish misconduct, and wisely considers his elders informed advice and prophecies on his future. His father tells him “one day, Simba, the sun will set on me as the King and will rise with you the following morning as the new king.” Simba is content in this existence where he only has to play in the elephant’s graveyard with his cub female friend, Nala.
Fate suddenly puts an end to this state of happiness when Mufasa is killed trying to save Simba from the wrath of a stampede. Scar, king Mufasa’s deceitful and opportunistic brother, accuses Simba of causing his father’s demise and succeeds in making him leave the Pridesland ‘forever’. This involuntary call for adventure ultimately forces the young Simba to leave Pridesland (his only source of satisfaction and security) and, as a result, enters a new world defined by hardships, terror, social alienation and painful experiences. Indeed, life away from the Pridelands is not a party for the young cub as he tirelessly looks for peace against the forces of self guilt and shame. Chancing upon this highly coveted life-refreshing elixir becomes impossible for him even in this abundantly blessed flourishing jungle that he has come to call home. He now has to make a break with his belief in a life of ‘Hakuna Matata’ (which means a life ‘that has no worries’) which essentially aims at eclipsing his urge to take up responsibility for the troubled Pridesland.
A strange encounter with an overly intelligent and generous mentor brings Simba the emancipation that is vital to his most needed enlightenment. Rafiki, the baboon, takes Simba (now a grown lion) to a pool of water and asks him to look at his reflection. Strangely though, what Simba sees is not his image but that of his dead father: Mufasa. “You see that?” asks the baboon, “he still lives in you.” Although memories of his dead father have always been around and at the sanctuary of his heart, it is only at this time that Mufasa resurfaces to the troubled Simba in a swirl of clouds. He tells Simba “you have already forgotten who you are and me as well… you are more than what you have turned into… you must take your rightful position in the circle of life…”
This simple yet very philosophical statement brings to Simba a lot of enlightenment that he can never break with his past by simply refusing to return to the Pridesland. He hopes to save the Pridelands from the authoritarian rule of his ruthless uncle: Scar. Simba does not return self-righteously, but rather calm, caring and accepting all the psychological punishments due to him. His beloved mother and other helpless lions in the face of Scar, who had believed him dead, are shocked to see him alive and blame him for abandoning them. Simba’s return is justified by the rewards of his long retreat when he forces his uncle out of the Kingdom. He does this by challenging him to a deadly duel and ultimately succeeding to make him own up to causing Musafa’s death.
There is celebration and unexplainable joy as Simba, bold and majestic, ascends the Pride Rock through a rain’s torrent. There is an air of reclaimed authority as Simba surveys the expanse of his Kingdom with great focus and command. The scenery systematically transforms into fertile foliage—an effective imagery of Simba’s successful and rewarding journey.