Like the movie’s characters, the audience is experiencing the unprecedented, rapid destruction of earth – but the film doesn’t acknowledge it
The Lion King was my first, brief encounter with grief. When watching the original 1994 movie, I bolted from the theater the moment the benevolent lion king Mufasa died, not yet able to stomach the idea of a life so abruptly lost. It was only recently that I returned to a theater to see the second half of the movie, this time the 2019 reboot. This time I was surprised to be overcome by a different form of grief.
Over the course of the nearly two-hour, photorealistic movie, I felt a creeping sadness as the lush, biodiverse African savanna – a mixed grassland-woodland ecosystem – turned to desert. All signs of green vanish. Antelope bones litter the dry land. The lions cower in fear while looking onto the remains of their homeland – the dusty, dried-up earth and the craggy, leafless trees. Eventually, at the height of destruction, fire engulfs everything.
Greta Moran is a Queens-based journalist focusing on public health and the climate crisis