Full disclosure: this is definitely a rant from the parent of a two-year old-who has insisted on watching the Lion King eight trillion times (and he usually walks away five minutes in). So I’ve seen this opening sequence more times than the creators did. But granted, I’m going to guess the creators only watched it ONCE and then WALKED AWAY because it’s A FUCKING DISASTER.
If you haven’t seen it in a while, or need to reference it during this, here’s a link to the aforementioned five-minute clusterfuck:
Otherwise, let’s DIVE THE FUCK IN, GUNS BLAZING.
Opening Shot: You know it. It’s famous. The movie won a the Golden Globes for BEST PICTURE, so every shot is pretty damned iconic. The sun, at horizon level, on a mostly cloudless sky.
A MOSTLY CLOUDLESS SKY. You KEEP THIS SHIT IN MIND because it’s about to be important.
Let’s skip the first minute of all the animals looking at the sun as if it’s a fucking magic trick, like they’ve never seen the sun before. That’s fine, that’s not the problem. Presumably they’re all feeling some instinctual call to follow the sun so they can see that Simba’s been born—so great, we’re already deeply infused with some sort of divine messiah parable but what the fuck let’s go with it.
LET’S TALK ABOUT THIS FUCKING MONKEY.
The sun is still at horizon level, as we can tell by his shadow and the direction of the sun’s brilliant, uninterrupted rays. This monkey dude with a cane marches his ass in to go up and see Mufasa, so he climbs the rock to –
WAIT. HOW THE FUCK DID HE GET UP THERE.
In the establishing shot we see the edge where Mufasa is waiting and it’s a BATSHIT NIGHTMARE CLIMB.
You’re gonna tell me this old-ass monkey who walks with a cane is suddenly gonna full-fucking-Isaac-Caldiero has way up a 135 degree reverse incline just so he can show up on the WRONG goddamn end of the rock? Want a closer look? THIS IS WHAT HE SCALED. YOU SEE ANY GRIPS ON THAT SHIT?
I CALL BULLSHIT.
This means he’s either the VAINEST motherfucking monkey on earth to go so far out of his way just to have a good entrance, or he’s DUMB AS SHIT because literally ANY OTHER PATH UP would have been easier.
Okay so then he inspects Simba with some tribal paint to make sure he, I don’t know, knows how to sneeze or whatever. Oh – in the middle of this? The sun is fucking WAY UP IN THE SKY, and perfectly visible, shining its ass through his magic motherfucking orange grapefruit whatever the fuck this is.
HOW LONG HAS HE BEEN UP THERE? The sun was on the HORIZON ten seconds ago, and now it’s practically fucking NOON! I guess that makes sense, actually, considering the BLACK DIAMOND LEVEL FIVE ROCKCLIMBING WALL he had to master first.
Oh but SHIT, wait, the sun has turned around and SMASHED BACK TO HORIZON LEVEL. Because when Monkey Dude walks back to the edge his shadow is TWENTY FEET LONG again.
Okay, I can handle that. Maybe the earth isn’t rotating wildly off-axis. Maybe it’s the next day. Maybe he spent 20 hours with Mufasa blessing Simba, and it’s morning again. So he walks to the edge of the rock and – OH SHIT THE CLOUDS BREAK!
The sun can FINALLY PIERCE THROUGH THE CLOUDS except for the fact that it’s been visible in every GOD DAMN SHOT up until this point. But the clouds quickly obscured the sun just long enough to open up again for this one magic Jesus shot. And WAIT look at Monkey’s position now …
His entire body is PARALLEL with the sun’s rays which would make practically ZERO SHADOWS WHATSOEVER, even though a second ago he was making this long ass shadow that – WAIT …
LOOK AT THIS AGAIN. WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE?
Yes, Rafiki’s shadow is thirty feet long but look at ALL THE OTHER ANIMALS’ SHADOWS. WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK IS THIS? Everyone else has shadows like the sun is straight up, except for Magic Monkey Man who has some ENTIRELY ALTERNATIVE LIGHT SOURCE? Are there TWO SUNS? Is this fucking TATOOINE?
Oh and now everyone is bowing down to Simba, that’s cool, just a monarchy in the jungle – WAIT. This ain’t no GODDAMN MONARCHY. Take a look at everyone bowing down. WHAT DO THEY ALL HAVE IN COMMON? Elephants, gazelles, monkeys, impalas … Every. Single. One. Is. A. HERBIVORE.
The lions are the only meat-eaters in this entire goddamn ecosystem and they’re also the ruling class? This is a fucking CASTE SYSTEM, it’s socioeconomic SLAVERY, where the oppressed are forced to bow down or DIE.
“But wait,” you say, “I remember a Cheetah in the first ten seconds.”
YUP. ONE CHEETAH. Did you spot him again?
Is he in this shot? NOPE.
He appears for ONE FUCKING FRAME right here – there he is!
Blink and you’ll miss him! Which means they had EVERY opportunity to put in more cheetahs and more carnivores but they specifically CHOSE not to, because they knew … oh damn … they KNEW what they were doing.
And once you see all this shit once oh IT’S EVERYWHERE. Small stuff you might not ever notice if you just watched this once, but when you see it a thousand times it makes your want to peel your DAMNED EYES OUT.
SHIT LIKE THIS:
What the FUCK is going on with that second bird’s reflection in the water? THAT’S NOT HOW REFLECTIONS WORK.
WHAT ABOUT THIS SHOT:
Mufasa’s entire fucking front paw is DIRECTLY IN THE MONKEY’S SHADOW and yet it’s glowing and has a shadow of its own. WHAT.
What about these NOSY MOTHER FUCKING MEERKATS.
This is the beginning, we’ve already established the sun as being at the horizon level, so what the FUCK is causing those shadows? These shadows only makes sense if the sun is sloping down at the same trajectory as the hill they’re standing on, and there’s also some kind of fucking LOW WALL directly in front of them.
AND THESE MOTHER FUCKING ZEBRAS that are IMPERVIOUS TO THE LAWS OF NATURE.
Look at their shadows that stretch directly left, putting the sun at an incredibly low position. Their shadows are nearly parallel with the ground, no problem. But the Zebras only CAST shadows, but do not ACCEPT shadows. This mother fucker in the bottom center is standing right next to another zebra, whose shadow clearly goes directly underneath center zebra, but somehow his ENTIRE SUN-FACING SIDE is still split up like a fucking NUCLEAR LIGHT even though there are TWO FUCKING ZEBRAS - BOTH LARGER THAN HIM - that are CLEARLY BLOCKING the path of the sun and should be casting their shadow on him. Watch this sequence. WATCH IT. NOT A SINGLE FUCKING ONE OF THESE GHOST ZEBRAS EVER HAS ANYTHING BUT A PERFECTLY GLOWING SIDE NO MATTER HOW CLOSE THEY GET TO OTHER FUCKING ZEBRAS.
Now who THE FUCK was in charge of ART DIRECTION in this movie? LOOK AT THESE TWO SHOTS:
These are both impalas, these scenes are fucking NINETY SECONDS apart. These aren’t just drawn by different artists, they’re TOTALLY DIFFERENT ANIMATION STYLES. Impala 1 has practically human eyes while Impala 2 comes from the land of VACANT DEAD STUFFED ANIMAL LAND.
Same is true with the giraffes – you’re gonna tell me this giraffe from the beginning exists in the same universe as this one from half an hour later?
HOW ARE THESE TWO SHOTS FROM THE SAME MOVIE?!
And OH SHIT. That means …
IT’S. TIME. TO. TALK. ABOUT. THE. FUCKING. GIRAFFE.
Of all the egregious gaps in Sun/Shadow logic, this is the worst. Here’s Mrs. Giraffe that we all think is singing the Circle of Life as she sashays forward when the vocals start. She’s clearly hidden in shadow, and look at the hill she’s on.
It’s got a straight shadow across it, presumably because the giraffe is walking up over the edge to get to the side that’s facing the sun.
NO. WHAT IS THIS.
If that were true, her head would be in the sun the moment her long ass neck pops over the top of that hill. But here she is standing FULLY ON TOP OF THE HILL and there’s still not a DROP of sun on her. And FUCK:
– she puts ONE HOOF ONTO THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE HILL and now that hoof is casting a shadow. Which means there should be sun on that hoof, but it’s still entirely shadowed out. That means the source of light isn’t coming from off-screen right, it’s coming from directly backwards. This shadow isn’t result of the hill facing the sun, it means there must be some GIANT VERTICAL SKYSCRAPER just offscreen that’s casting that shadow.
LOOK. HERE the little giraffe comes out and the shadow falls VERTICALLY, supporting the skyscraper theory.
THERE’S NO SKYSCRAPER.
WHAT THE FUCK WAS CAUSING THAT SHADOW.
WATCH THE VIDEO AGAIN AND TELL ME THIS DOESN’T DRIVE YOU MAD.
I’M NATE AND I GET ANGRY AT STUPID THINGS.
Nathan Makaryk is an author and comedian, follow him on Twitter to hear him complain about other stupid things.
His debut historical fiction novel NOTTINGHAM retells the legend of Robin Hood from viewpoints of multiple people on both sides of the conflict. Published by Tor/Forge, available here.