The scene in The Lion King where Scar kills Mufasa is famously traumatic for many, but his line before the crime was originally different. It’s a crowded field when it comes to the title of best Disney animated movie ever made, but in the eyes of many, 1994’s The Lion King is arguably the winner, or at least among the top contenders. The Lion King is widely seen as the best Disney movie of the 1990s, and while the decade’s animated properties by the company would drop off a bit, that doesn’t sap Lion King’s greatness.
While many still contend that The Lion King ripped off the Japanese animated production Kimba the White Lion – and the stories definitely bear striking similarities – no legal action came from the matter, and it’s never really seemed to affect The Lion King‘s esteem. That’s not to say that The Lion King is the height of originality, as those who made it readily admit it was influenced by William Shakespeare’s immortal play Hamlet, although that’s nothing to be ashamed of, as Hamlet has influenced countless films and TV shows.
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Perhaps the most famous sequence in The Lion King sees Scar orchestrate the demise of his brother Mufasa via a fall into a gorge containing stampeding wildebeests, a fall (and stampede) he personally causes, but not before delivering the iconic line “long live the king.” However, while fans probably can’t imagine the scene any other way, Scar almost said a completely different thing to Mufasa before his death.
Lion King: Scar Didn’t Originally Say “Long Live The King” Before Killing Mufasa
Like many Hollywood films, even some of the most iconic to ever be released, The Lion King went through quite a few script revisions before the final version was settled on. The earlier scripts were much more clearly a retelling of Hamlet, and as such, Scar’s fateful line before tossing Mufasa down to his death was, “good night sweet prince.” That’s a lift from the closing scenes of Hamlet, part of what Horatio says to his friend Hamlet as the titular character lays dying in his arms, followed by the also famous line, “and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
However, Disney ended up bringing on Don Hahn, who had previously worked on 1991’s Beauty and the Beast, in to oversee things as lead producer. Hahn wasn’t satisfied with the existing Lion King story and insisted that the script be heavily retooled. Some notable things changed and some stayed the same, but along the way, The Lion King ceased being as direct a riff on Hamlet as it was originally, and a casualty of that change was the loss of the “good night sweet prince” line in favor of “long live the king” before Scar kills Mufasa. The latter certainly makes more sense on the surface, given that Mufasa is a king and not a prince, but those aware of its context in Hamlet certainly would’ve enjoyed the reference.
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