How Attenborough’s documentaries inspired new ‘Lion King’

July 15, 2019

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London: Disney CEO Robert Iger poses on 
the red carpet upon arriving for the European premiere of the film The Lion King on 
Sunday.—AFP
London: Disney CEO Robert Iger poses on the red carpet upon arriving for the European premiere of the film The Lion King on Sunday.—AFP

LOS ANGELES: Disney’s new 3D “Lion King” was inspired by the majestic scope of David Attenborough’s natural world documentaries — although the talking animals did cause some problem, its creators have revealed.

The film tells the classic tale of young lion cub Simba seeking to avenge his father Mufasa’s death and save his kingdom, rendered in photo-realistic visuals using cutting-edge effects.

From the very opening scene, the remake — which emulates the 1994 original’s “Circle of Life” theme — treats viewers to breathtaking “shots” of antelopes, zebras and wildebeest galloping across the African savannah.

Its producers took safari tours of real-life locations from Kenya’s huge Masai Mara reserve to the desert sand dunes of Namibia for inspiration, before artists and technicians sketched and modelled details for the final film.

The movie also featured the musical talents of celebrated German composer Hans Zimmer, who provided the soundtrack for the Attenborough series “Planet Earth II” produced by the BBC.

Attenborough, a veteran British environmentalist, has narrated dozens of wildlife documentaries over six decades, opening the eyes of millions of television viewers around the globe to the wonders of the natural world.

It was important the film have “the illusion of it being a naturalistic documentary,” director Jon Favreau told journalists in Beverly Hills this week.

“We looked at a lot of the work that Hans had done like Planet Earth II, all of those Attenborough BBC documentaries, and how much emotion can be expressed without human performance, just through music and editorial and storytelling,” said Favreau.

Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2019