The circle of life necessarily contains life’s opposite.
That seems to be what the writers of acclaimed Disney hit The Lion King were hinting at when they originally planned the climactic ending scene. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed, and our childhoods weren’t totally ruined by the traumatic ending that might have been.
Let’s review the actual end of The Lion King, by way of comparison. So, as you’ll recall if you watched your VHS copy of the children’s movie until the tape disintegrated, a common experience for lots of children of the ’90s, the final sequence features Simba and the villainous Scar confronting one another on Pride Rock.
Scar admits to Simba that he took down Mufasa, Simba’s
Storyboards for the original ending tell a much darker story.
In this version, the battle on Pride Rock goes very differently. At some point, as flames grow around the battling lions, Simba tosses Scar off the ledge. He’s sure he just won and regained his rightful place as king.
Then he hears a sound from down below, a pathetic plea for help. Scar has not plummeted to the ground. He’s just barely hanging on to the
But, true to his evil nature, Scar takes advantage of this act of mercy. He grabs Simba by the mane and throws him off the ledge to the burning jungle below. Simba’s fall is broken by a tree, but he’s surrounded by spreading flames. He runs for his life.
Scar, unaware that Simba actually survived, takes the time to gloat over his victory…big mistake. He’s too busy laughing to notice that the flames surround him. The burning wall closes in on Scar, finally consuming him entirely.
That’s pretty dark for Disney.
The producers of The Lion King thought so, too, so they replaced this ending with the one we all know and love today.
Something is lost in the current version, though. The Lion King is a retelling of Shakespeare’s tragedy,
“Goodnight, sweet prince,” Scar tells Simba before attacking.
That’s exactly what Hamlet’s friend Horatio says in Act 5, Scene 2 of the famous Shakespeare play. “How cracks a noble heart!” Horatio says as Hamlet succumbs to the poison. “Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!”
Check out the storyboards for this chilling alternate ending here.
What do you think? Did the producers make the right decision when they changed the ending to have Scar’s end come in the teeth of his hyenas? Or do you wish they would have stuck with this darker version?