The Lion King

Directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, The Lion King takes place in the Pride Lands of Africa, where a lion, Mufasa, rules over all the other animals as King. King Mufasa has a newborn son, Simba who is soon taken on a tour of the Pride Lands, and taught about the ???Circle of Life???, the fragile chain affecting all living things. This greatly angers Scar, Mufasa??™s brother, who was next in line to the throne. Scar plots to kill King Mufasa and Simba and leads them to a gorge where Mufasa is soon thrown off a cliff by Scar and is killed by a herd of wildebeest. Simba is lead by Scar to believe that he is to blame for his father??™s death & is told to run away. Scar then takes over as King of the Pride Lands. Several years later, with the help of his friends, Timon, Pumbaa and Nala, Simba returns to battle with Scar and win back the Pride Lands as the rightful King.

In The Lion King, a great deal of themes is explored using techniques which further help to create meaning. Power is a theme used throughout the film. This is shown mostly through Mufasa, who holds all power, Scar who is power-hungry and Simba, the future holder of power. King Mufasa a protagonist in the film, and uses his power and authority in a respectful way to lead the animals. Scar, the antagonist, however, seeks power and is willing to do anything to get it. He is not respected by many as he does not have much authority. ???Oh Scar, it??™s just you, we thought it was someone important like Mufasa, now that??™s power!??? Simba, the main protagonist, only has power as he is the future King. Those who do not know him, however, like the chameleon, do not take note of his authority and ignores him.
The film also explores the theme of hierarchy, by showing the traditional leaders (Mufasa, Sarabi & Rafiki) as wise and compassionate, protecting the welfare of the community. Those outside the traditional group of leadership however are shown as illegitimate and are essentially unfit to hold positions of authority. In the Pride Lands, there is a set hierarchy, where those with authority hold most of the power, similar to a food chain. This is shown through Mufasa, Sarabi and Rafiki who are constructive leaders of the kingdom and are on top whereas Scar is also a leader, but of lower authority as his place and his follower??™s places in the hierarchy are lower down. This is also interlocked with the theme of fatalism, where everything is predestined. This is apparent when Mufasa says ???A kings time as ruler rises and falls like the sun. One day Simba, the sun will set on my time here — and will rise with you as the new king.??? (Sunrise Scene)

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This text covers the concept of authority and leadership in a very detailed manner. The text covers authority and leadership using film techniques such as colours and lines in the animation, music, dialogue and shots. It is shown through leaders such as King Musafa, Queen Sarabi, Rafiki and Scar. Leaders are always shown at the top of a ledge or cliff, symbolising power, authority and their place in the hierarchy. Hereditary authority is also shown through Simba ???the future king??? where he gains authority from his place as future king. The abuse of authority is also greatly seen through Scar, as he gains power as King and does not rule the kingdom in a well manner.

One way in which The Lion King explores authority/leadership, is through the idea of abuse of authority. This appears in the text mostly through Scar, whom once coming to power as King, orders everyone around and does not lead with good intentions. As a result, the Pride Lands become a barren wasteland and the kingdom is subject to starvation. All those who had authority before had either been stripped of it or demoted. An example is Queen Sarabi, who now only has authority as the leader of the hunting party, however she is still a leader. Simba also abuses his authority by taking himself and Nala to the Elephant Graveyard, putting both in danger. The composer uses techniques to bring the scenario to life by use of colour, lines, music, shots and dialogue. Protagonists are drawn with soft lines and bright colours, whereas antagonists are shown with sharp, angular features and dark colours. Music is used to contrast between positive and negative scenes and camera angles also tell us about power relationships, close-up shots for those in power, panoramas and long shots for the mass of animals who have no status. Dialogue is very important in allowing the viewers to understand the concept of authority/leadership. For example, Simba says ???But I thought a king can do whatever he wants.??? This shows the naive nature of the cub and his misunderstanding of the role and responsibilities of a leader.

The Lion King produces many thesis ideas. One thesis idea is accepting the responsibility of leadership. Simba??™s negligence of the destruction of the Pride Lands shows how he is reluctant to acknowledge that he is the true leader and he has to face up to the responsibilities. Another thesis idea is that leadership can also quickly change. This is demonstrated through the change of kings, from Mufasa to Scar and then to Simba. When he decides to challenge Scar, Simba notes that ???The winds are changing.???, indicating that he will be the new king. Pathetic fallacy is used as a technique to show the changing of leaders. As Simba enters the Pride Lands, the sky is grey and a storm approaches. During the fight, there is lightning and fire which adds to the intensity and suspense. However, after the fight is over, there is rain, and this washes away the fire, much like Simba??™s purity & goodness washing away Scar??™s torturous regime.

In regards to authority/leadership, a leader??™s responsibility is valued as Simba is repeatedly reminded in the film by his father, Mufasa. ???You must take your place in the Circle Of Life.???. As Simba is reluctant to go back to the Pride Lands and accept his rightful throne, it is shown that Nala values a true leader, i.e. One who accepts their responsibilities. A leader??™s ability to maintain their authority is also valued. This is shown when Nala confronts Simba about his authority and his need to regain it. However, his roar at the end of the movie, suggests that he has transformed from a young naive cub to a powerful leader.

This text was intended for young children, as are the rest of the Disney films. Composed in a modern society, The Lion King uses a simple animation film to demonstrate modern beliefs and ideas to children. The context is reflected in the text through the use of colour and dialogue, where children are able to understand the story. Knowing the context influences my understanding of the text by allowing me to perceive the conditions under which it was composed. In conclusion, The Lion King is a text which covers the concept of authority/leadership thoroughly, through the use of themes, content and techniques.

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