How Disney’s ‘Lion King’ remake helped me retrace my own Circle of Life | Anwar Curtis

Members of Harrisburg's Young Professionals Color at the July 19 screening of 'The Lion King' (Capital-Star photo by Anwar Curtis)

I remember like it was yesterday, waking up on a random Thursday in July 1994, full of excitement because my Mom was taking me — and what seemed like all of my neighborhood friends — to go see The Lion King.

Anwar Curtis (Capital-Star file photo)

Back then, there was no Regal Theater. The Harrisburg Mall was just called the East Mall. I miss those days. I’d just turned eight, and Disney movies were absolutely my thing. But, even still, this movie was different for me. It was a movie that not only sparked my own creativity, but that of so many of my classmates.

I can’t remember when I first learned that Disney was planning a live-action remake of my childhood favorite. But I do remember wanting to know who would give voice to Mufasa. I can also remember remember hearing so much chatter about Beyonce playing Nala; what would the soundtrack would sound like; and, of course, how adorable a live-action Simba would be on the big screen.

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Now, it’s July 2019, and I’m once again sitting in the theater, again surrounded by friends, and ready to recapture that feeling, that excitement, I first felt a quarter-century ago. Around us were children waiting to create memories of their own.

Without giving away too much, I can say the movie lived up to my expectations — even if some of the classic scenes were left on the cutting room floor.  And I missed Whoopi Goldberg giving voice to a hyena. But that didn’t stop us all from singing along to “Hakuna Matata.

My friend Cody Burt, a member of Harrisburg’s Young Professionals of Color, who accompanied me to the movie said he “[appreciated] the live-action remake for its approach of telling this story in real-life setting, with real animals.”

Video director Jonathan “JayDee” Diaz, who’s seen both the original animated version of the new version, thought both movies were amazing.

“The remake is legit. [It’s] just about the same exact movie minus the actors and realism. You can never compare the two but they both stand high,” he said.

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Kendra Peterson, who is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, thinks the animated version will always reign supreme. She didn’t care too much for the live-action but did like the technology that was executed in the new version.

Wealth manager Garrett Sims thought both versions were good. He did notice the additional scenes in the live version that was not included in the animated version. Overall, Sims felt as though both versions were the same. He also mentioned the live version being dark, but still having timely comedic moments.

Some might disagree, but I think we need more movie remakes like the “Lion King,” because they bring back certain feelings viewers had when the original version came out.

Still, I must admit that seeing this remake was a little rough for me. Unlike that first time, so many years before, I didn’t have my mother with me – she passed away last November. But as Mufasa told Simba, I know she’s always with me. I also had my fiancee sitting next to me, enjoying every moment of the movie.

The same holds true for the children who were sitting in the audience with me during the screening I attended. The “Lion King” gives so many gems to young people when it comes to the importance of family; of conquering fears, and of taking pride in your heritage.

That’s the Circle of Life, right there.

Capital-Star Opinion contributor Anwar Curtis tells the stories of the people of Pennsylvania’s capital city. His work appears biweekly. Readers may email him at [email protected].

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