Many are raving over the highly anticipated release of the 2019 remake of a Disney classic, The Lion King.
The remake of the 1994 classic is one of many Disney classic remakes, ranging from Beauty and the Beast (2017) and The Jungle Book (2018), to the recently released Dumbo (2019), and the other anticipated classic Aladdin (2019).
By far the most celebrated of all Disney films, The Lion King is a live action remake of the animate film released in June 1994. The film and soundtrack went on to be used in a well-known Broadways musical and has stood the test of time, twenty-five years after its release. The film takes place at Pride Rock, along the jungles and veldts of Africa, and follows the life of Simba, from his debut to Pride Rock at the films opening score “Circle of Life” to his ascension to the throne as King. The original film starred the vocal talents of Matthew Broderick, and James 9.
The 2019 remake also has some impressive vocal heavyweights attached to it as well. First off, James Earl Jones will reprise his role as the slain Mufasa. The 88-year-old veteran actor will join the ranks of fellow veteran actress Alfre Woodard, 66, as the widower lioness Sarabi (the role originally voiced by the late actress Madge Sinclair). Rounding out the cast are comedic actors Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen in the role of fan-favorites Timon and Pumbaa, followed by Chiwetel Ejiofor as villainous uncle Scar, alongside Grammy Award winning artists Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as leading lioness Nala, and Donald Glover in the eponymous role of Simba.
Set to be released on July 19, 2019, two trailers have been released and have garnered mixed reception. But one thing that stands out amongst the attention of the film is the diverse choice in cast. With many of the principal parts given to Black actors, it is fair to predict the film will live up to the success of its predecessor. Many of the actors are heavyweights in their own respect. Jones and Woodard each have garnered both Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations while Knowles-Carter and Glover both have garnered Grammy Awards wins. For Knowles-Carter, this role will be her first acting role since the Fatal Attraction-esque film Obsessed (2019).
To have these many Black actors to take the reigns of such a classic film is a critical moment in film. Diversity has become a recurring theme in films released in recent years, from the comedic film Little (2019) to the horror film Us (2019). The Lion King (2019) carries on with this theme of diversity in its own unique way. Perhaps that is why the film has been generating so much attention leading up to its summer 2019 release. Millennials and Gen Z’ers, the generations born approx. 1983-1997 and 1997-present, respectively, according to Pew Research Center, are widely regarded as the most diverse generations. The former came of age with the 1994 classic film and may feel a sense of investment in the success in the 2019 remake.
The film’s diverse cast will strike a chord with the viewers anticipating its release, from those grew up with the original film and to the ones who are now sharing that legacy with their children.