Warning: The following post contains spoilers for The Lion King (2019).
The decision to remake The Lion King as photo-realistic as possible has already proven to be lucrative, but at what cost? Aside from its $260 million price tag, Jon Favreau’s modernized vision meant sacrificing some of the elements of the animated film that may come across too cartoonish, no matter how classic and emotionally satisfying they are.
Those who have seen the billion dollar-making homage may have missed a key scene in this newest version—specifically, the moment when Simba speaks to the cloudy manifestation of Mufasa’s spirit in the sky. The new version involves Simba speaking to a non-miraculous cluster of clouds while James Earl Jones’ voice-over chats back accordingly. Per an interview that VFX supervisor Elliot Newman had with Yahoo! Entertainment, the new style of the film didn’t allow for quite as much imagination:
“It would have been jarring if Mufasa was suddenly standing up there in the sky, because everything else is so hyper-real. Jon [Favreau] was always saying that he didn’t want it to be a literal thing… and draw the perfect outline of Mufasa in the clouds. He wanted it to have some build-up and drama, so it would feel really epic.”
There is some truth to that. Committing to as hyper-realistic of an approach as possible and suddenly throwing that away for one scene might have been a curious move. That said, one would think that if we signed up for a story where animals can talk, then we would be more than willing to make a small concession for one of the most iconic moments of the source material. Just something to think about for the next eventual reboot.