Similarities of The Lion King and Hamlet

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Similarities of The Lion King and Hamlet In 1994, the critics hail an animated masterpiece, not only for its artwork and music, but also for the plotline: an evil uncle displaces the heir to the throne and sends him into exile. Years later, following both a prophecy and an encounter with the ghost of the old king, the heir is persuaded to return to his home, avenge his father's death, and take his proper place as the ruler of the kingdom. At first glance, Disney's The Lion King has all the classic motifs of the revenge plot. These archetypal patterns occur in many stories, and Disney writers Jim Capoblanco and Irene Mecchi may well have built the plot's structure from the ground up. However, if we disregard the Serengeti setting, the cheerful animal companions, and the happy ending, we are left with a storyline that appears to be none other than a thinly-veiled adaptation of Hamlet. There is almost a one-to-one correspondance between the film characters and the play's dramatis personae. The plot itself re-shuffles some scenes and eliminates the sex and most of the violence, but remains very similar to the essential structure of Hamlet. Furthermore, even though one story is set in Denmark and the other in Africa, there are critical characteristics in the setting that are common to both stories. The following examines the appropriation of the Hamlet story and attempts to account for the differences while highlighting the similarities. The basic setting of the film, the Serengeti, was chosen for its popularity with children and for the possibilities with regards to animation itself. The opening sequence of The Lion King introduces us to this beautiful lush landscape and to all of its glorious animals, who have gathered to witn... ... middle of paper ... elite which has eradicated itself. This ending is insufficient for The Lion King - because film is used to a great extent as a means of socialization, we require a hero and a villain in order to create a moral universe. Since Hamlet has become such a sacred text in our culture, A comparison to the simple plot of a Disney movie leaves us feeling like something has been lost. The Lion King, though, is an honorable attempt at adapting the story for young audiences, and may well prepare children for their later encounter with the real thing by introducing them to some of the themes and ideas that are shared with Hamlet. Works Cited Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. The Harcourt Brace Anthology of Drama. Ed. W.B. Worthen. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace, 1993. "Lion King, the (1994)". Internet Movie Database. 15 October 2001. **.
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