Everyone loves a good Disney movie, but it’s surprising just how profound The Lion King really is all these years later.
You may never look at Simba’s adventures the same ever again.
I recently caught with a friend I hadn’t seen in ages. We both had some great food and some great chats. We were both in very different seasons of our lives than our last decent catch up and it was great to see him. We got talking about a whole bunch of different topics, but on a few topics, we found ourselves both saying, “it’s like that moment in The Lion King where…”. It just seemed applicable to a lot of the situations in our lives we were talking about. Then he suggested that my next blog should be about all the deep moments in The Lion King.
And here we are.
You know, it’s quite surprising how profound The Lion King really is. One of my favourite books, The Way of the Wild Heart by John Eldredge, regularly refers to Simba, Scar and Mufasa and their experience of the masculine journey, from boyhood to manhood, and all the stops and seasons along the way. Many other authors do the same. The writers at Disney sure did craft a masterpiece of a story.
So let’s have a look at those deep and profound moments The Lion King serves up to us.
#1: The elephant graveyard
Man, it felt like those kids were falling forever.
Such a deep moment.
Okay okay, I had to get the lame one out of the way. The rest will actually be some profound The Lion King moments.
#2: What he’ll grow to become
I was so tempted to make another “deep” joke for this one, but this is actually pretty cool.
You know, I’d never actually seen this scene for what it was really trying to express before my friend explained how much the scene stood out to him. When Mufasa is giving Simba a lecture about responsibility and teaching him in love, there is this small but super significant shot in the film. Simba finds himself putting his foot in his father’s footstep.
On the one hand, it shows Simba how much bigger and how much further ahead his father is. Mufasa is painted as this majestic and honourable figure that everyone wants to be like, and so far beyond where Simba was.
And what my friend pointed out to me was that this shot wasn’t just about how small Simba is at the moment, but it was a small snapshot of who he would grow to become. And one day, the paw that felt small would grow to fit the mantle that seemed so much bigger than him at the time.
Mind. Blown. I wonder what moments in our lives we face that we feel small approaching at the moment, but will one day be as natural to us as that?
#3: You said you’d always be there for me!
This one is probably Matthew Broderick’s best delivery in the movie IMO. Confronted by his past and facing his future, Simba looks into himself and feels utterly alone. Frustrated in who he’s supposed to be, the now grown Simba cries out to his father who was supposed to be there for him.
So many of us go through lives with a sense of abandonment. When the people we thought would be there for us didn’t seem to be there. The support we yearned for just wasn’t there. And now we face our futures with a sense of absence, confusion, and maybe even despair.
But the father was actually there the whole time. He lives in you. And there’s nothing that could be closer than that.
#4: The king I know he is
Probably the most iconic song in The Lion King… maybe even of any song ever featured in a movie, is Can You Feel The Love Tonight penned by Elton John. The lyrics are masterful – his original version citing that love “is enough to make kings and vagabonds leave their very best” is one heck of a great thought. The original and the version featured in The Lion King musical also have Simba confess to Nala that “it’s enough for this restless wanderer just to be with you”. Beautiful.
This is the massive turning point for Simba after running away from the loss of his father and his shattered past. His old friend Nala comes back into his life, no longer a child, but a woman who so strongly and wisely counsels and pulls out of him the little boy who got lost in his disappointment. “Why won’t he be the king I know he is?”. Her care and understanding for him is tangible to Simba and to us as the audience.
I think a great trait of women is that they can really see things beyond what sometimes the person they’re caring for can see. Nala saw the king who had been wounded and couldn’t find his way home. As Brian McFadden put it, she knows his heart, like only a woman can.
But Nala isn’t the only one to call Simba out – the sage Rafiki comes back into his life and adds his own powerful encouragement to Nala’s compassion. Together, they’re able to lead Simba back on to the path he was made for.
I love the power of friends, family, and loved ones. People in our lives who can see the things we can’t. Oftentimes, when we’re feeling lost or uncertain and we’re asking or praying for a sign of what to do next, the voice of those close to us is telling us exactly what we should do. Yet because of our disappointment or our plans or feeling pressured or whatever other reason, we shrug and fight it off because that’s not what we saw ourselves doing right now, or maybe even ever.
And we can do the same for others. Don’t just look at symptoms – look at the king or the queen who is frustrated in their calling, and call them out.
#5: Distracted from destiny
Timon and Pumbaa. Ah man, so many good laughs. After The Lion King movies, I even liked the spin-off series featuring these two guys.
These guys took Simba in and looked after him. They introduced him to the carefree lifestyle. They taught him slimy, yet satisfying.
Yet these two also provided Simba with some of the worst advice of his life – Hakuna Matata.
Who doesn’t love that song? And yeah, you know what, it is nice every once and a while to chill out and not be concerned about anything.
The only problem is that Simba was supposed to be king. The king who is supposed to invest in others, look after the people under his care, take responsibility for his own life and the lives of those around him. Simba had a greater calling.
And yet these so called friends provided Simba with a way to hide from his destiny for years.
I wonder who Timon and Pumbaa are in our lives. I wonder who the influences, whether they be places or even perhaps people, who reassure us with a false sense of security in our apathy and indifference. Meanwhile, the people and positions we are supposed to be looking after and investing in are dying under the tyranny of someone else. I wonder how many years we’re letting these voices distract us from our calling.
Timon and Pumbaa finally do provide support to Simba in his return as king, but they were the voices growing up that agreed with his own incorrect sense of righteousness even though he really wasn’t being the man he was born to be.
#6: Remember who you are
Simba, remember who you are.
I wonder if you remember who you are.
Many people feel lost and aimless at the best of times. Like Simba, great disappointment can enter our lives. We may have been unexpectedly set back or hurt in doing what we thought we should be doing. Our reward has been anything but grand for what was meant to be the right thing to do.
So maybe you’re just not sure of what you’re supposed to be doing…
…or maybe you’ve forgotten who you truly are.
You are my son, and the one true king.
If we were going to be really honest, our feeling of being unsure or directionless usually isn’t because we don’t know what to do – it’s usually because we know exactly what we’re supposed to do, but we won’t do it.
And sometimes we just need the father, the lover, the wise man or the friend to remind us. Our identity is at the centre of everything we do. Whenever you’re not sure, go back and have a look at what the father said about you.
So there you have it. A whole bunch of timeless scenes and moments that show how profound The Lion King really is. There are many many more. Thank you Disney for a masterpiece that speaks to us on so many levels about so many things, no matter how young or how old we get.
And hey, if you enjoyed the read, share this post with your friends, check out some of the other posts I’ve put up on a whole bunch of different topics, and let me know what you think!
What are some of your favourite moments from The Lion King? Share your thoughts and join the conversation.