The movie The Lion King came out in 1994. It was the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college. I went and saw it in the theaters. Quite frankly, at the time, I was blown away by the movie in a way that I have been blown away by few movies. I was blown away, but I did not really understand the movie…not all of it.
At the time, I was very much in a ‘Hakuna Matata’ phase as most young people are I guess. I was what can be called a fair haired child of promise. I often say that I was ‘ruined by the promise of aunts pinching cheeks.’ You go to family re-unions and every one talks about how cute and smart you are. They talk about how much promise you have and how successfull you will one day be. I even had white blonde hair. Had I seen it back then, I would have most identified with ‘I Just Can’t Wait to be King.’
The years passed. The hair grew out. The beard grew. I fought my share of fights. I got my share of ugly. I was haunted by things in the past that I had no control over. Over time, it started to worry me. It started to get me down. I even held up my own children with pride. I felt like I conquered adversity in a meaningful way. I had climbed up Pride Rock on all fours in the rain just to let out a roar. I thought I understood at that point what The Lion King was all about. I can still honestly say that I did not.
Three years ago, I lost my father after a long battle with heart disease and diabetes. When I heard that the Lion King was going into theaters, I was excited that I would be able to take my two girls who are 9 (I Can’t Wait To Be King) and 15 (Hakuna Matata). I thought it would be a good time. I looked forward to the 3D effects. I did not believe that the movie had anything more to say to me.
I had not seen The Lion King since my father had passed away. I had never watched it as a son who had lost a father. I had never seen it as someone who had to take upon himself a mantle. I had never seen it as an adult charged with continuing his father’s legacy. I had never watched it from that point of view.
As the movie passed and as I took in the 3D Lion King with all of the new hues and meaning, I started to realize that I was yet again getting this movie on a whole new level. I was no longer someone on a journey. I had completed the journey shown in the movie and was ready to have the heavy heart that wears the crown. I was ready to understand what it all truly meant.
Honestly, it is sad that Disney only released The Lion King for two weeks. They say that movies are for ‘all ages’ but so few actually are. The Lion King stands as a rare example of no matter what stage of life you may actually be in – it says something to you and speaks to you. Believe me, I have been all stages of Simba and can verify that it is true of the Circle of Life.