Customer Review

20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Animated Film Soundtrack of Choice!, 21 Jan 2004
This review is from: The Lion King: Original Soundtrack - Special Edition (Audio CD)
Hold on now children. Sure, the Elton John songs are great. In particular, ‘Circle of Life’ (as heard in the film) sticks in the mind, as an irresistible blend of contemporary Western song writing with glorious African vocals. That spectacular opening zoom up to the head of Pride Rock as it hits the chorus (you know the bit) is a movie image that will probably never leave me, and its awesome impact owes BIG TIME to Elton’s songwriting talent. The quirky ‘Hakuna Matata’ and his likeable pop ballad version of ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight?’ are also definite high points of the album.
But hang on. We cannot speak of this soundtrack without mentioning the efforts of a certain Mr Hans Zimmer! (The previous user comment seemed to imply that Elton John also composed the orchestral cues – boy, did he get HIS lions crossed!)
The orchestral score aspect of ‘The Lion King’ is epic and beautiful, and simply WORKS, because it never allows itself to admit that all we’re really dealing with here is a few thousand cute animal drawings. Zimmer unashamedly approaches the drama and emotional nuances of the story with respect and straight-faced sensitivity; happily, no gawky cartoonish fluttery is anywhere to be heard.
His themes are great, and there are many. (Watched ‘The Lion King 2’ recently, and without Zimmer’s memorable leitmotifs, it seemed to have no soul.) Two or three of the motifs, in particular, capture just the right combination of majesty and tragedy (“a king’s time as ruler rises and falls like the sun…”), while the uplifting African chanting creates a nice contrast from the heavier stuff (heard, for instance, when Simba decides to leave the jungle and return to the Pridelands). The track ‘To Die For,’ however, is a cut above the rest, which underscores my favourite sequence in animation history: the Wildebeest Stampede. Did you ever hear anything darker or more intense written for any cartoon before this? Unlikely, my friend, unlikely!
There are a few holes in the album, and I’m disappointed that this Special Edition hasn’t been used as a chance to release more of Zimmer’s score. If you don’t own the first album, it’s well worth purchasing all the same.
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