Reel Rumbles #23: “The Lion King” vs. “Beauty and the Beast”

Nigel Druitt

A self-described fanboy, Nigel has always looked at movies as entertainment first and art second. (Not that a film can't be both.) His personal Flickchart Top 20 is dominated by the likes of Frodo Baggins, Indiana Jones, Marty McFly and Christopher Nolan. Nigel is the Canadian arm of the Flickchart Blog, but try not to hold that against him. You can find him on Flickchart as johnmason, where his chart is currently undergoing a major overhaul.

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10 Responses

  1. Bill Graham says:

    Great comparison and very thorough. I believe you chose the right film in the end, and agree with nearly everything you have said. Nicely done. Hakuna Matata will live on forever. After all, it’s no passing craze.

  2. johnmason says:

    Thanks, Bill!

    I almost wonder if I wasn’t grasping at straws a little in the “Script” section, just desperate to choose a winner one way or the other. It’s hard to complain about “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”, and really, the script does have to get Simba and Nala together to bring the story full circle and present Simba’s son at the end.

    What can I say? These are a couple of my favorite movies from my childhood, and I love them both.

  3. I never found the Simba/Nala romance “forced.” It was a perfectly understandable impetus for Simba to finally end his exile. Her presence put a face to the present-day consequences of the events of his youth from which he’d been running.

    On the animation front, I have to say I was far more impressed with how authentic animated Africa felt than I was with the aesthetics of “Beauty and the Beast.”

    Music-wise, I know “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” was played ad infinitum on radio, but that doesn’t change the fact it’s a standout in the Disney canon. For my money, “The Lion King” remains the gold standard for a soundtrack.

  4. johnmason says:

    Actually, I never meant to imply that the Simba/Nala romance was “forced”. (It does spring quite naturally from their scenes together as cubs, after all.) Simply that it was “unnecessary”, and now I’m even re-thinking my position on that.

    Again, I think I was grasping at straws…

    The Lion King is an absolutely epic soundtrack. I got worn out on “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is a damn fine song. It is easily one of the greatest movie soundtracks. Ever.

  5. Bill says:

    I am so shocked the Beauty and the Beast lost the soundtrack battle. The songs and score are hauntingly beautiful. You also forgot to mention the amazing opening of Beauty when the whole town sings the song “Belle” which rivals “Circle of Life”. The songs of Beauty should at least be tied with lion king. In addition the art direction of Beauty is flawless and the ballroom sequence clearly is better than anything out of Lion King. Beauty and the Beast in addition is more adult than Lion King and it shows. Beauty is very mature and that is why is got a “Best Picture” nomination. I like Lion King, but love Beauty and the Beast.

  6. Bill, I have to respectfully disagree. No offense to Alan Menken or Howard Ashman, but their work *feels* like Disney soundtrack material. What Elton John, Tim Rice and Hans Zimmer brought to “The Lion King” was something larger, something that wasn’t out of the standard mold.

    There is a maturity to “Beauty and the Beast,” but there’s something about the magical items (clock, candlestick, etc.) that distracts me. Those characters make me entirely too conscious of the fact I’m watching a Disney movie. Add in the Menken/Ashman material that feels like Disney music, and it adds up to an aesthetic that’s simply outclassed by that of “The Lion King.”

  7. Phoenixanew says:

    Great analysis. While they’re both excellent films, The Lion King comes out ahead for me too. I love how much of a self absorbed jerk Gaston is, but Scar is just an amazing villain. He really helps to make the Lion King shine a bit more than Beauty and the Beast, at least for me.

  8. johnmason says:

    Interesting observations about the music. As I mentioned, it’s almost a matter of taste; I really do think they’re two of the best soundtracks in Disney history. (I have to admit, though, Aladdin’s right there, too.)

  9. Ziggy51127 says:

    Reading this article makes me miss Disney’s glory days. Pixar films are absolutely amazing, but there was just something about Disney growing up that still holds a special place in my ticker. Both are utter masterpieces, but with a gun to my head, I’d go with The Lion King as well.

  1. June 14, 2011

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