Here we have the first of many posts that I’ve decided to simply call “Epic Movie Scenes.” Is this original or creative? Not in the least bit. But this is less about what I’m pointing to and more about what these sequences offer. These are often the scenes that you almost have to see in theaters to truly experience. But even if the scene doesn’t necessarily mandate that, they’re guaranteed to catch and keep your attention. And given the post I made teasing this new feature, I figured why not start with one of the most iconic scenes from many of our childhoods?
Unfortunately, the poster of this video has disabled video embedding, but here’s the link to the video on YouTube itself. And if you actually haven’t seen The Lion King yet, I beg you to just rent or buy the movie and watch it all yourself before seeing this specific clip (or reading ahead):
Why is it so epic?
Now rather than just touting and posting videos, I also want to set some space aside to talk about just what makes the scenes I post so great, spectacular and memorable.
Right from the first part of this clip we’re given an idea of just how big the scene will be with a shot of the steep gorge. Then we have a nice, slow panning shot out of the gorge and showing the amount of wildebeest that will soon flock and dominate the scene. And for one last touch of build up (and convenience to work in Scar’s favor), we hear Simba’s roar echo off the walls, immediately followed by the trembling stampede and easily one of the best “oh, ****” reactions on film.
So much is packed into this scene that it really makes for a better high point than the film’s (intended) climax at Pride Rock. We see the villain’s plan come into play as the scene literally heads toward and ultimately around us. There’s a perfect mix of tension and suspense as Simba clings to the weak tree which ultimately snaps as Mufasa heads into the quaking gorge. And of course we have the gasp-inducing betrayal at the end by Scar, topped off with Jeremy Irons’ perfect, demonic delivery of the line “long live the king.” It’s one thing to get a fast-paced action or chase scene, but to get one that legitimately brings emotion and investment in like this is something else entirely.
Another part that definitely helps sell this scene is Hans Zimmer’s composition, which was nicely handled and mostly untouched in the sound mixing. I’m always of the belief that something as simple as a film score can make an ordinary scene come off as epic. In this case we have an epic scene matched with epic music, and the results are staggering.
And if we needed any more reason to prove how monumental this scene remains, it apparently took 2-3 years just for the three minutes of footage. Now THAT is dedication!