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The new version of the The Lion King was a massive box office hit, just like the original film was before it. While the new film used cutting edge technology, the story and music remained largely unchanged from the animated original. The Lion King has one of the most iconic musical openings ever put to film. Considering just how memorable the entire opening number is, it's pretty surprising to learn that the song was never really meant to open the film, and composer Hans Zimmer had to improvise the song's ending at basically the last minute.
Speaking on the special features of The Lion King remake Blu-ray, composer of for both versions of the film, Hans Zimmer, revealed that the reason the song "The Circle of Life" ends the way it does, with a simple drum beat, is because he was racing to complete the song before the directors and producer of the original Lion King arrived to hear it.
It's been 25 years since Hans Zimmer first wrote the music to "Circle of Life," so he apparently had forgotten just why he ended the piece the way he did. It wasn't because he was looking for an epic conclusion to punctuate the song. It certainly feels like it was all intentional, the drum hit comes as the title of the movie is first revealed. It works perfectly, so you might think it was all done intentionally, but the reality is that's far from the case,
But why was Hans Zimmer working right up to his deadline in the first place? There's a reason for that too. The composer also reveals on the new Lion King Blu-ray that his original instructions for the opening of the animated movie was not to create an entire musical introduction, but just a few seconds of music..
The fact that Zimmer had taken on much more work that he'd been instructed to do is what led to him having to rush to finish the music. When The Lion King team arrived to hear what Zimmer had done, it changed everything, literally.
It's nearly impossible to imagine The Lion King opening any other way. "Circle of Life" is, as Hans Zimmer himself says, iconic. From the first moments the piece transports you to another place, in this case, Africa, in a way that few other movies do.
I honestly think that "Circle of Life" is one of the greatest film openings ever made, and since the same opening allows you to simply revel at the technological wonder that the remake created, the new version may even be slightly better.
The Lion King remake is now available in Digital HD, and will arrive on DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K October 22.
CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.
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