There is no doubt that The Lion King is a very good animated Disney movie. But I think that most people have been deceived into thinking that it is a great movie–deceived in the same way that romantic comedies trick us into thinking that two people belong together simply because one of them has stalked the other for long enough or finally decides to tell the truth to the other.
Specifically, we have been deceived into thinking that The Lion King is a complete movie, while really it has one huge, glaring omission: The Lion King does not have a middle. It has a beginning and an end, but no middle. Rather, the middle consists of a single scene of these three characters walking across a log:
That’s it. Simba’s entire evolution from scared young pup to fully grown lion–i.e., the most important part of the story–is condensed down to a single song, during which he walks across a long with his two buddies.
I remember watching this scene as a kid. My reaction was, “That’s it?” I knew little of the art of thirds or character evolution back then, but I knew that I had just been gypped out of the middle of a movie.
Think about it. Simba’s father dies. He runs off. He meets Timon and Pumba, who sing a song about their life philosophy. Simba misses his family and the star dust spells “sex” in the sky. He walks across a long and goes from little lion to fully grown lion by the time he reaches the other side. Then he’s ready to go confront Scar.
How is that possible? How did the writers think it was okay to skip over the whole part about Simba growing up?
Perhaps I’m missing the obvious here. Maybe the lesson is that if you ever want to grow as a person, all you have to do is sing a song and walk across a log. By the time you get to the other side, you’ll have fully evolved.
In the greater scheme of things, this is not a big deal at all. It’s a movie, one of many, many movies. I guess I’m just surprised that people don’t realize the middle is missing.
And really, those who lose the most are the kids. Think of the children! This is how they learn to tell stories. Do we really want to teach the next generation to tell stories with beginnings and endings, but no middle? No meat in those story sandwiches? I sure hope not.
Are there any movies or books that most people love, but you detect huge flaws in the storytelling?