October 17, 2010
A Love Affair with The Lion King
The Lion King was one of my favorite movies when I was little, and though other 'favorites' have come and gone, The Lion King was one film I never lost my love for. There was a good bit of time when it nearly faded out of my life, after we had sold our copy in a garage sale to make room for new movies... but whenever I saw it at someone's house, it would stay with me for several days after. Last year, I'm not sure what caused it... but I suddenly missed that movie and desperately wanted to see it again. My mother picked up a copy at a garage sale she drove past one day and brought it home. I ran downstairs to our VHS player and found that the 17 year old still loved the story just as much the pre-ten year old had.
I searched through our pile of CD's and found the soundtrack and re-listened to all the old songs. When I got my iPod, it was one of the first CD's I put on there. When I learned how to swing dance, I discovered that either of "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" worked wonderfully - especially Elton John's version! As I'm typing this, a memory just came back to me of when I was little of listening to that song and jumping all over the couch, singing and pretending to be Simba and Nala. Good times.
I sing along whenever the songs happen to come up on shuffle; I want to play "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" at my wedding reception, and no matter how many times I listen to it, I stop whatever I am doing when the climax of "The King of Pride Rock" comes and just listen. The music is so beautiful, so enthralling, I can't do anything but listen.
So you can imagine that I was absolutely thrilled when I heard that The Lion King was coming to Chicago and even more thrilled when I heard that my college had tickets for it. I was a bit worried about being able to get one - the college was raffling them off rather than just selling because of the expected demand. This may come as a surprise, but when I found out I had gotten a ticket, I wasn't as excited as you might expect. I guess this was because somehow I knew, before I got it, that somehow I was going to get a ticket.
When the night came I got dressed and waited for the group to leave and wondered why I felt nervous. Then I realized that I wasn't nervous, I was so excited that my heart was beating twice as fast as normal. The entire long, traffic delayed ride to the theater I couldn't wait to get to the theater. Then we pulled up in front and got out.
My seat was at the very top of the balcony, in the very back row and almost in the corner, but it was actually a good seat. I had a great bird's eye view of the stage, and not being able to see the actors faces and only the masks helped me to see them as the animal characters I knew and loved rather than people playing the part.
And then, the theater went dark, a spot light came on and "The Circle of Life" started. Gradually the stage came to life as a beautiful sun rose up out of the stage and the animals started to gather - including a life sized elephant that came up out of the pit. At some point during the song I nearly started crying. I couldn't believe that I was actually there, watching my favorite Disney movie in the whole wide world being acted out in front of me... and it was just so beautiful.
The show was just so amazing, and if you've seen it, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't seen it, I'm sorry but I can't find the words to describe just how powerful that experience was for me. I almost cried several other times... "They Live in You" and "He Lives in You" were two times. I love that song, and I know how people say "you can't love something that doesn't love you back, blah, blah, blah," but I do. I really do love that song. It has such a deep and special meaning to me because, being who I am, I can't listen to it without a little smile because I know who "HE" really is. (It's not Mufasa.)
And the ending... some might find people dressed as animals, with puppet like lion faces atop their heads to be cheesy or a theater orchestra to not be quite as powerful as "the real deal"... but when that climax piece of "King of Pride Rock" started... and the drums and the music and Simba started to climb up Pride Rock and it's all right there in front of you... it was nothing short of awe inspiring. I know I was smiling as big as I possibly could and I just had such a tremendous joy and thankfulness in my heart. Through the whole show and even now, I can't thank God enough that He let me go and be there last night. I know it sounds a little silly, The Lion King is an animated film created for children, it's not some religious film like "The Passion of the Christ" - so why would it move me so much?
I can't really tell you why. I know that in part it is the music. I can say unreservedly that the score for The Lion King is to me the most beautiful piece of film score out there. I am a person who is deeply effected by music and while I may not be the most musically talented person in the world, I am a very musical person. There is always a song in my head or at least humming in my soul and I get lost in it more often and more easily then I get lost in books. This music connects with me deeply and I know that is at least half the reason I love The Lion King. I think that another reason is the characters and the story line (which was borrowed from Hamlet, fyi. Actually, the main reason I read Hamlet was because I found out that The Lion King borrowed a few plot ideas.)
But no, I couldn't tell you exactly why The Lion King resonates with me the way it does. I just know that I have always loved it, dare say I always will, and I know it will be a very, very long time indeed (if in fact ever) before I forget what it was like to sit in the theater, surrounded by music I've heard nearly all my life and watch The Lion King.
Recorded by Amanda at 6:25 PM