Space Ramblings

Return of the Hand Drawn Animated Cartoon

The Lion King beat Moneyball to rule the box office (I could make some joke about roaring to the top, but why bother) and score some 70 million bucks. Not bad for a movie from the 90’s that dared to break Disney’s princess template, upset Pocahontas and became one of the few late Disney movies to endure for its characters, not for its line of backpacks.

In the age of Pixar, the return of the Lion King is a reminder that maybe the old cel-shaded animated hand drawn movie isn’t dead, it’s just been allowed to die off, replaced by Pixar’s plastic. Sure the Lion King release is 3D, the original movie was partly modeled in 3D, but it was smooth art, not Pixar’s plastic parades of characters who look like toys, even when they’re not supposed to be.

The Lion King was cinematic in a way that no Pixar production can be. And it’s what Disney left behind when it jumped all the way on the Pixar train. Disney killed its own animated golden goose with mediocre art by committee movies following a template. And Pixar which had a whole different workflow has taken over. But the Lion King reminds us of what we we lost getting there and what we could have again.

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