Friday, August 5, 2011

How THE LION KING is NOT based off of HAMLET


Hamlet; Argueably William Shakespeare's greatest achievement; It is one of the most well-known pieces of literature in the world. It's where we get the whole To Be, Or Not To Be quote from. It is also the explanation of why a human skull is often paired with Shakespeare. In my opinion, although it is not my favorite (Macbeth), I still have to give credit where credit is due. Every time that I have seen this performed, it is usually done pretty well.

Unfortunately, it has a black cloud over it for me. You see, a lot of people that I have met who are Shakespeare enthusiasts like to argue the fact that the Disney movie The Lion King is based off of William Shakespeare's Hamlet, which is like the bible to those Shakespeare superfans. The Lion King, which is MY favorite Disney movie, is the story of a pack of lions who rule the pridelands of Africa. Mufasa, who is the King, has a son named Simba, who is next in line to become King. The only problem is that Mufasa's brother Scar is extremely jealous of his nephew Simba. So jealous, he creates a plot to kill his brother and convince Simba that it was his fault and make him leave the Pridelands and never return. Well, the plan works, and Simba is banished and doesn't return until his dead father convinces him that he must take over as King. So he comes back, kills his uncle, and takes over as King. The End. Great Story.

Now, there are a few similarities to things that happen in Hamlet and things that happen in The Lion King. So the Shakespeare fanatics have decided that The Lion King must be based off of Hamlet. Well, I am here to tell you that it is NOT based off of Hamlet. Here's why.

Now, one argument that people always bring up is that they are both about a brother killing a brother to become King. Now, this is definitely true. They both have a brother that kills their brother to become King. Claudius kills Hamlet, and Scar kills Mufasa. But, this does not mean that The Lion King was thinking of Hamlet when they were thinking of this plot. Over the course of human history, the world has seen many changes of thrones with Kings. A lot of kings have been killed by their brothers to become king. William Shakespeare is not the first person to think of such a concept. This is not something that was unheard of when Shakespeare wrote this play. To think that Shakespeare came up with this concept out of his own imagination is absolutely ridiculous. In Hamlet, you don't find out about Claudius' dirty deed until a little bit into the play. The action actually does not take place in the play. it is exposition. In The Lion King, you see him plan it, execute it, and then lie about it. There is nothing hidden in the movie. Now tell me, how is that the same?

Another ridiculous comparison that people like to bring up is the similarities of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and Timon and Pumbaa.


 Now, this comparison is the one that makes me the most angry. Just because they both serve the same purpose of comic relief, they automatically assume that one was taken from the other. Now, the argument is that since there are two of them, they must represent Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Oh okay. So let's just assume that any comedic duo in history is just copied from William Shakespeare's comedic duo. In that case, Abbott and Costello, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, The Smothers Brothers, they all must have taken their idea of a comedic duo from William Shakespeare. This is just ridiculous. Just because they are a comedic duo that come in as comedic relief, it doesn't mean that they represent anyone. They are just a comedic duo, and you just have to accept that.

There are so many other arguments that I have heard, like how Hamlet and Simba both were banished. This is also ridiculous because they were both banished for different reasons. Hamlet was banished because he went crazy and killed Polonius. Simba was banished because Scar blamed the whole death of his father on him, and if he returned, he would be killed. Where's the comparison?

Another comparison that is always made is the fact that both of the main characters get visited by the ghosts of their respective dead fathers. Yes, you're right. they are both visited by their fathers. This is no reason to jump any sort of conclusion. These 2 events are completely different. Hamlet's father comes to him to tell him that Claudius killed him and he needs to seek revenge. Now, as an audience member, if you hadn't read the play, you start to wonder if he was crazy or not. It is not until Claudius confesses to the audience in a monologue that you know Hamlet isn't crazy. In The Lion King, Simba is visited by his father when he is shown that Mufasa lives inside of him. When Mufasa visits Simba, he just tells him that he is the one future King of the Pridelands and he must take his thrown. He never tells Simba that Scar is the one that killed him. In fact, Simba still thinks that it was his fault, even after Mufasa leaves. Again, when you look at the two, there really is no comparison.

To say that The Lion King is based off of Hamlet is just wrong. In fact, The Lion King is pretty much a ripoff of a Japanese anime movie called Kimba The White Lion, which is a movie based off of an old T.V. show. Every character in The Lion King have a matching character in Kimba The White Lion. There has been so much evidence and facts thrown in the face of Disney, but Disney is sticking to their guns and saying that they had never even heard of Kimba. Kimba? Simba? is there a similarity here?




The story of The Lion King is also an ancient African story of a Prince that was accused of murdering his own father and gets banished by his uncle, who was the real murderer. So, the son gathers himself an army and seizes the kingdom, and his uncle gets exposed and he is put to death. At least that is what I was told by my World History teacher in high school.

This is actually, if you look at Disney movie history, sounds more like something that Disney would do. Most of Disney's movies are based on classic fairy tales from different countries around the world. For example, Snow White is a German tale, Beauty and the Beast is a French tale, and Pinnochio is an Italian tale. They also make movies based upon classic novels, like Peter Pan, Aladdin, and Alice in Wonderland. They even make up their own stories, like The Aristocats and 101 Dalmations. It really doesn't make sense for Disney to take a classic play and make a movie out of it. The play is made up of dialogue already. It can't be interpreted into a different story because the story is already there for them. If they were going to make a movie, they would just call it Hamlet, or something. They would make a Hamlet movie and interpret it so that kids would understand it.

So all in all, that is why saying that The Lion King is based upon Hamlet is just absolutely ridiculous. If you agree or disagree, you can leave your comments on the bottom. If I have changed your opinion, I would love to hear that as well. If you don't like this blog, then you are just going to have to suck it up. This is my blog for my opinions. You don't have to follow it.

33 comments:

  1. "The filmmakers have said that the story of The Lion King was inspired by the Joseph and Moses stories from the Bible and William Shakespeare's Hamlet."
    - The Lion King: Platinum Edition (Disc 2), Origins (DVD). Walt Disney Home Entertainment. 1994-06-15.

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    1. End of discussion

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    2. They had to claim that, cuz if they admitted they stole it from Kimba the white lion, they'd lose face. They told voice actors trying out for the parts that it was a remake of Kimba the White Lion, after all, and Disney had a HUGE shindig in Disney Japan the year Kimba had an anniversary re-release that was a big deal there. No, Disney stole it and refuses to admit it.

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  2. Two misused semicolons, incorrect spelling, and incorrect capitalization. In the first sentence.

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  3. I don't think you have quite noticed yet, but I really don't care about using correct grammar. So, whoever you are (and I'm pretty sure that we are friends), you are just going to have to get used to it. I use this blog to express my opinions, not to get a good grade in English class. Nobody else seems to mind that I don't use proper grammar. It's just you.

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  4. We all make mistakes. Nobody's perfect.

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  5. The Lion King is not based exactly word for word upon Shakespeare's story of Hamlet. However, The Lion King does allude to Shakespeare's play and as the first comment points out, the movie was inspired by the play.

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  6. True. I can agree that some things in The Lion King may have been inspired by Hamlet. But as I mentioned in the article, I have a lot of friends who try to convince me that the whole thing is based off of Hamlet. Back when I started this blog site, I was mostly just writing for friends. Now that my audience has expanded, I have taken it easy on some of the language and outrageous content. hahaha. But I still believe that even though there are a lot of similarities between the two, The Lion King is definitely not based off of Hamlet.

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  7. I agree. Thematically they are in essence opposites and furthermore, they don't even fit in the same genre if you place theme both in Shakespearian templates The Lion King is a comedy. Whereas Hamlet is a tragedy. At a glance if someone didn't really have incite on the meaning in each piece it's easy to see why taking plot points and saying that they are the same might make sense, but it's all about context. The themes in Hamlet are that on in-action and over-thinking. The themes in The Lion King are that it's never too late and the importance of taking responsibility. I doubt on many levels that The Lion King is based off Hamlet.

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    1. Inspiration is a lot different than being based off of... I am sure there were several influences but I would argue the influence of Hamlet on the Lion King has a small presence. There are very few similarities to plot structure and themes

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  8. Kimba was made way before Simba and Simba was supposed to be a white lion

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  9. All I've seen is you call other peoples opinions ridiculous whilst trying to convince people to take yours seriously.

    "The filmmakers have said that the story of The Lion King was inspired by the Joseph and Moses stories from the Bible and William Shakespeare's Hamlet."
    - The Lion King: Platinum Edition (Disc 2), Origins (DVD). Walt Disney Home Entertainment. 1994-06-15.

    That says it all.
    Using another play or story as inspiration, does not mean you have to use all the characters, all the plot points, and basically copy and paste the story.
    For one thing, The Lion King is a childrens Disney movie. Having Simba go mad and kill someone to get banished, would be a bit much no?
    Of course you can see Scar kill Mufasa. It's a movie! They felt the need to show it, and they can! Because Hamlet is just the inspiration. It's not a carbon copy.

    I'm sure you get the point.

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  10. A movie based upon by another tale does not mean it is a word for word copy. Hamlet is a play intended for an adult audience. Disney's audience, however, is intended for children. Certain aspects had to be adapted for the intended audience. Therefore Simba could not be banished for murder, struggle with depression and question his sanity. Disney does not vilify their heroes. I do find it amusing how they worked in an ode to Hamlet, but instead of Simba holding the skull, Scar uses it to mime along to the tune Zazou is singing. It's funny you should mention Pinnochio. In the original story the cricket does not have a name. He gets stepped on by Pinocchio himself.Also,in the end Pinnochio's feet get burnt off. Certainly not what I remember seeing in the Disney version. Lastly, just because Kimba and Simba rhyme, it does not mean Disney based their story off of the tv show. That is piss poor logic. Simba happens to mean lion in swahili.

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  11. "The Lion King was the first Disney animated feature to be an original story, rather than being based on an already-existing story. The filmmakers have said that the story of The Lion King was inspired by the Joseph and Moses stories from the Bible and William Shakespeare's Hamlet. Certain elements of the film, however, bear a resemblance to a famous 1960s Japanese anime television show, Kimba the White Lion. One similarity is the protagonists' names: Kimba and Simba, although the word "simba" means "lion" in Swahili."

    From the Disney website. Just sayin'.

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  12. How about the biggest glaring difference... EVERYONE DIES IN THE END!

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  13. Ummm, no.

    Like what people quoted:

    "The filmmakers have said that the story of The Lion King was inspired by the Joseph and Moses stories from the Bible and William Shakespeare's Hamlet."
    - The Lion King: Platinum Edition (Disc 2), Origins (DVD). Walt Disney Home Entertainment. 1994-06-15."

    They made it a little different because they didn't want their movie to be a existing story like most of their classics. Just because they made up some of the story's parts doesn't mean it isn't referenced. It's like making a fictional species based on a lizard and some random goof-off claiming it isn't based on the reptile because it has a some added details to it that isn't lizard based.

    Maybe Kimba the white lion was also based on William Shakspere's "Hamlet" and/or Joseph and Moses? That seems unlikely, but same DOES NOT EQUAL ripoff. Can people get that through their skulls? Jesus Christ.

    P.S.: I do not see any similarities in the trailer of Kimba. I only see one, African animals. OMG such a ripoff! ._.

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    1. Okay, it seems obvious that you have a lot of anger issues with this blog, so I am just going to tell you that the word "inspiration" was not used in MY FRIENDS' argument, which is the whole point in this blog being created. My friends would always tell me that the Lion King IS based off of Hamlet, which I don't agree with. I would say that some of the movie was INSPIRED by Hamlet. I could agree with that. But the point is that MY FRIENDS keep telling me that they are exactly the same. That is why I wrote this article. I appreciate your enthusiasm, but you're going to need to chill the fuck out!

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  14. Actually this is correct. "The Lion King" was based on the story of Prince Sundiata Keita, the prince of Mali. Yes "Hamlet" has similarities to "The Lion King", but as many people to not know Shakespeare based "Hamlet" off of other stories such as: Saxo Grammaticus' Historaie Danicae(1214), Ur-Hamlet thought to be done by Thomas Kyd(1589), and Histoires Tragiques by Fran├žois de Belleforest(1556-83). I suggest that people actually do their own research before they bash other peoples correct information. I have learned this from my A.P. World History,A.P. Literature and Composition classes, and research of my own.

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  15. I completely agree with this blog. The filmmakers have said that The Lion King is inspired by Hamlet, but by no means is "inspired" equivalent to "based off of." Though with similar meanings, one word is a more "intense" version of the other. It's like how "raining" and "drizzling" don't mean quite the same thing. So inspired, yes. But base off of? That's a bit of a stretch.

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  16. based off of? What does that even mean? I am guessing you mean based on. But then you can get into the semantic arguments of what does based upon mean? If I were to tell someone that I had based x on y, I wouldn't mean it were a carbon copy... I think perhaps you are all over thinking this a bit.

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  17. Hello, having much fun with your thread and article. Very nice, all good comments. Especially, love your use of Thrown for Throne. We have a wonderful picture of Simba flying off Pride Rock, from taking over the Thrown. Good job, everyone! (I do not mind poor grammar as long as it is fun.)

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  18. Hamlet, as much of Shakespeare's works are also based off of common cultural tales. After 400 years, it is hard to create new stories, and that of a brother killing his brother for power is not that common a story anymore - Hamlet or not - Hamlet just happens to be very popular. In the end, who cares? Disney scored big bucks and Shakespeare is the most famous literary figure of all time. Both created new stories and both created stories off of commonly told tales. In the end, what does it matter that TLK is or isn't similar to Hamlet? So is Gladiator though the relationship connections are a bit different. Maximus isn't a blood relative and his exile is a literal enslavement. My point being all great works carry similarities. Think about greek stories like Oedipus or the Illiad - how common is that in modern lit and movies? Again, my point being, who cares?

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  19. It's "based on" not "based off of!!!!!"

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  20. So after reading your article I understand how it is inspired by hamlet, very boring subject over all but less so than actually going and reading hamlet. Thanks for the overview. Also all the grammar Nazis reading the post, I don't remember reading the part where he was asking for correction or criticism on the rant "blog", as he called it.

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  21. 101 Dalmations is actually based off of the novel 101 Dalmations

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  22. Dude, half of the dialogue is just modernized Hamlet.

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  23. Dude, basically your synopsis of the plot line of the Lion King just confirms the similarities between it and Hamlet.

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  24. @ Mike Barry thank you

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  25. Never mind the fact that most adults who watch the Lion King go, eh this is similar to Hamlet?

    I know I did.

    'I always assumed you slept with your bathers... I know I always do.'

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  26. Interesting theory. Although, 101 Dalmations was taken from the book of the same name by Dodie Smith.

    Also, who says Kimba wasn't based, in some part, on Hamlet? One could argue Finding Nemo is based on Shakespeare as well. Disney uses stories they can find in public domain because they don't want to have to pay royalties. Shakespeare certainly fits in that list.

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