The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride
As the follow-up to one of Disney’s most acclaimed and beloved animated movies, it would stand to reason that The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride would follow in the footsteps of its predecessor, and be based (albeit loosely) around one of Shakespeare’s most well-known plays: Romeo and Juliet. The movie follows the story of Kiara, Simba and Nala’s daughter and only child. In this movie, we are introduced to a new set of characters: the Outsiders. If Simba and all those who dwell in the Pridelands are our Capulets, then the Outsiders are our Montagues, lead by Zira, a lioness whom we are led to believe was involved with Scar. So thus far we have our Lord and Lady Capulet in Simba and Nala, or Lord and Lady Montague in Scar and Zira, and our Juliet in Kiara. Introducing our Romeo: Kovu, the rambunctious son of Zira, and heir to Scar’s legacy and mission. Kovu and Kiara meet as children, but then fall out of contact. Over the course of time, they each develop their respective family’s beliefs, and only through reconnecting and spending time with each other are they able to see past their prejudices and realize that they need to change their families’ perceptions of one another.
Now, as I mentioned previously, this movie is LOOSELY based on Romeo and Juliet. What I found interesting about this movie is that even though it is so identifiable as being inspired by Shakespeare’s play, the most important aspects are changed so as to alter the entirety of Shakespeare’s ‘original’ intent. Romeo and Juliet die for one another, and it is only through great tragedy and loss that their families reconcile. However, with Kovu and Kiara, their love is what changes their families’ views. This is the difference between Shakespeare and Disney’s Shakespeare-inspired works: Disney has a near-compulsion to end stories with a “happily ever after” – which begs the question, why bother adapting one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, when you know from the start it won’t stay a tragedy?
Personally, my answer is that this is what people these days want to relate to. We want to have stories full of life and young love and intrigue that end with a happily ever after, not a depressing tale of “could’ve, should’ve, would’ve”s that ends in death and despair. I think that most people want a Romeo and Juliet story in the style of Kovu and Kiara – dramatic, but ultimately leading to a life full of love and happiness.