3. The Lion King (1994)
Not only a Disney classic, but a film classic, The Lion King is a wonderful story of the trials and tribulations of an animal kingdom ruled by lions. Loosely based on Hamlet, the narrative has lots of twist and turns, engaging us in Simba’s journey. It is also one of the only Disney movies where you actually see the death of a parent, not just hear about it. We see Scar throw Mufassa into the stampede, which is absolutely traumatising as a child. When Simba finds Mufassa on the ground, Simba nudges Mufassa telling him to get up, growing in frustration, biting Mufassa’s ears and pulling them, my eyes start to well up. Yet, the dark moments are perfectly balanced with comedy, namely the characters of Zazoo, Rafiki, Timone and Pumba. Zazoo’s dry humour, and intertextual references throughout, e.g. in the scene where he is trapped in the cage in Scar’s lair singing “it’s a small world after all”, Scar replying “no, no, anything but that”. Rafiki’s manic behaviour is refreshing and surprising, and we all love him beating up Simba when he’s still refusing to go back to Pride Rock. And I don’t have to talk much about Timone and Pumba, who are probably the best comedy duo in all Disney films. The mixture of story, music and character make The Lion King one of the best Disney classics of all time.