With John Favreau’s hybrid of plate photography and CGI characters bringing The Lion King back to screen, it’s a perfect opportunity to look at the key personnel who helped bring the indelible songs from the film to life. Some are famous, some less so, and some were left out of the narrative until recently. Since the original landed in 1994, this music has become part of a new pop song canon, playing for decades on Broadway and continuing to enthrall new generations.
When the film was released, this was a breakthrough for Disney. The film was the first animated feature in the studio’s history not based on an existing property, a rarity even by today’s standards as evidenced by the fact that their entire slate seems to be remakes, sequels or prequels of familiar titles. Drawing from many references, especially Hamlet, the film was shepherded by many of the same that brought Beauty and the Beast to the screen, and along with Aladdin and Little Mermaid convinced the world that the studio was once again the home to classic, timeless animated extravaganzas. The film had strong story, fantastic visuals, but above all an infectious soundtrack made by some exceptional talent.
Here are some of those that helped give rise to the music of The Lion King.
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In Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter Parker and his fellow students head to Europe, following a long line of Americans for generations that have headed abroad to expand their horizons. Naturally things go awry, travel plans get askew, and Parker cannot run far away from the obligations that his powers have committed him to.
There are hundreds films that speak to the experience of heading abroad and the kind of antics one gets up to that echo, in sometimes surprising ways, in this newest blockbuster. As more and more of cinema emerges as these megaproductions, there are still correlations, intended or otherwise, to different narratives we’ve experienced in the darkened halls of the movie palace.
In keeping with the notion we’re meant to take this formerly frivolous stuff seriously, here are a few films that speak to these life experiences (excluding Eurotrip was very much an active choice), and how they evoke a sense of Spidey’s own heroic journey.
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Danny Boyle’s film Yesterday asks a provocative question – how would the world be different if the Beatles had never existed for anyone else around you? Would playing them these songs elicit the same emotional response these tunes have had for decades, or would they be considered merely a bunch of twee melodies suitable for background enjoyment? Thankfully we don’t have to live the nightmare scenario of a world without these songs from Macca, Johnny, George and Ringo, graced with music that’s been the world’s shared soundtrack since the early 1960s.
Yesterday has some strong cover versions of the Fab’s tunes, with the performance of these “lost” songs central to Richard Curtis’ screenplay. Many other films have used reinterpretations of Beatles tunes in various ways, providing through reinterpretation a different look at what these songs fundamentally represent, using these themes and variation to celebrate the classical canon of Western pop music while making the works unique.
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Decades in the making, the release of Martin Scorsese’s Rolling Thunder Revue is cause for celebration. This long anticipated look at Bob Dylan’s 1975 tour is being released in select theatres and on Netflix, documenting the tour of the East Coast where the venerable entertainer played smaller venues and created a kind of Gypsy-themed, grass-roots concert jaunt, has long been considered legendary by Dylanologists of all stripes.
For casual fans or neophytes, however, this is a highly confusing place to start out. Rolling Thunder was a kind of anti-tour, a direct reaction to the stadium shows that Bob performed with the Band the year before. In these massive shows he refocused many of his songs for the rock stadium crowd, embodying the spirit of that age when the shows began to overwhelm the performers. These were his first live performances since 1966, where during that period with the members of the Band (then known as The Hawks) Dylan stormed the U.S., Canada and Europe, with sets that began with acoustic familiarity and then slammed with electrified presence, prompting one patron to famously shout “Judas!”at the blasphemic sounds emitting from a once deified “protest singer”.
In other words, Rolling Thunder was a show that was a reaction to another show that was a reaction to another series of events that saw Dylan rise from the coffee houses of Greenwich Village to become the spokesperson for a generation. Even his musical arrangements during Rolling Thunder were radical departures from what came before that only lived during this era, making them almost unrecognizable from their origins. In the same way that appreciating a cover song is often heightened by knowing what it was based upon, so do does much of the Rolling Thunder experience flourish the more one apprehends just what Dylan and his posse are riffing on.
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Kantemir Balagov’s bleak, brilliant Beanpole tells a very different story about the aftermath of the Second World War than what we’re used to seeing. Few countries were more violently affected than the Soviet Union, and this tale of the effect on the postbellum populace does justice to the scars left by the conflagration. The result is an emotionally shattering portrayal of two women and their struggles to adjust to their civilian lives. Read More »
At the outset, the concept of The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil is the stuff of genre genius – a hard-nosed, irascible cop and tough guy crime boss become allies to combat a shared enemy when a knife-wielding serial killer comes to town. Lee Won-tae’s film has such an extraordinary premise, ripe for exploration, that it can’t help but feel a little bit disappointing when such a relatively straightforward flick is the result. Read More »
There’s always a danger stepping into a genre where masterpieces have already been firmly established. Make a boxing movie and you’re up against either Rocky or Raging Bull, and however hard you try, you’re going to be under the shadows of the established canon. So perhaps the oddest thing about Marco Bellocchio’s mafia film The Traitor is how it pretends a certain saga by Francis Ford Coppola never existed. This might have made it easier for the director to sleep at night, but it also helps make the film falter. Read More »
There’s something to be said about the blissfulness of ignorance. Festivals are prime places to be able to go into a film cold, often not even knowing the title, let alone the subject and synopsis. Give me a movie and I’ll apprehend, no matter what, and hopefully find something to fall for. This rarefied way of seeing Elia Suleiman’s It Must Be Heaven proved heavenly, and there’s perhaps no better way of seeing this charming, sweet and intelligent film. Read More »
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