What Shakespeare play is The Lion King based on? Disney's remake reaches cinemas!

The Lion King dir. Jon Favreau 2019

William Shakespeare's influence is everywhere and Disney's output is no exception.

It'll be interesting to see which version of this timeless tale will secure its place atop Pride Rock once the hype settles.  

Audiences have approached Disney's latest blockbuster with both hesitance and excitement in recent months. The studio's 1994 classic The Lion King is often cited as one of the most important and beloved family movies of all time, and age has failed to diminish its impact. 

To this day, younger audiences are introduced to Disney's tale of love and loss in the animal kingdom; it's a film which will be passed down through generations. Its characters are gorgeous, relatable, and it's such a touching moral tale that no matter your age, there's always something to appreciate in it. 

People are no doubt divided over the recent crop of live-action remakes from the Mickey Mouse house. Some have declared them soulless,  whereas others find them visually stunning and nostalgic. It's a debate which will likely wage on, as the case of The Lion King has received the most attention yet. 

The Lion King dir. Jon Favreau 2019

Disney makes a difference!

Gone is the animation of the original, and in with the wonders of new and ever-evolving technology. Of course, the most obvious difference between Jon Favreau's take and the original is the leap from traditional animation to photorealistic CGI. It worked for The Jungle Book, but that had Mowgli; without human characters, some fans were inevitably sceptical of the concept. 

Then, there's the addition of stellar new cast members. Instead of sticking with Matthew Broderick and the rest of the ensemble, the fresh voice cast features such exceptional talents as Donald Glover (Simba), Beyoncé (Nala), Seth Rogen (Pumbaa) and many more.

However, there are also some clear nods to its predecessor. It seems Disney considered the legendary James Earl Jones irreplaceable, so he's back to reprise the role of Mufasa. A welcome treat for most!

What Shakespeare play is The Lion King based on?

There's the belief that most classic film narratives can be traced back to William Shakespeare in some way. The playwright's influence can never be understated, and there's a reason he's regarded as the greatest English writer of all time. 

He gave the world the likes of Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, King Lear, Othello, The Tempest and other celebrated classics. We've seen these stories play out in cinema and beyond, but there are those who consider The Lion King to be one of the very best Shakespeare adaptations. 

The film was greatly influenced by Hamlet, and the stories share many parallels. The tragedy follows the titular character as he exacts revenge against his uncle, who has murdered his father to steal the throne and married his mother. Comparing the two stories would pretty much be redundant - loose descriptions of the two bleed into one. 

It's generally considered one of Shakespeare's most influential works, and The Lion King is yet another in a long line of properties to reinforce such claims. A story like this can be revised, reimagined and retold again and again; a true classic. 

How to watch

It's safe to say that the remake hasn't deviated from the original in terms of story, so Favreau's ambitious animal epic will evoke Hamlet once again. 

The Lion King arrives in UK cinemas on Friday, 19th July 2019 and can be watched in 2D or 3D. Currently, there is no DVD or Blu-ray release date, but we'll be sure to check for any updates in the near future. Perhaps a 2019 release date - in time for Christmas, potentially - is on the horizon. 

But for now, enjoy it while it's on the big screen!

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