Sleeps Tonight

One of your biggest regrets of my childhood was teaching me how to rewind.

I was a child of the Disney Renaissance, and The Lion King had taken up a permanent residence on our home TV. There are few memories from those early years, for our capacity to remember forms a bit later in life, but my first viewing several years later was like finding a text already coursing through my bloodstream.

It’s funny, how much you associated me with that film. You mentioned it a lot as I grew up, perhaps one of the few solid memories you have of me as a child in the outside world before being hauled off to prison. This gentle teasing, of something I would have never known without your little reminders – it brought a strange sense of warmth, a bright spot in a childhood marred by your actions.

The Lion King has been my eternal film, one so ingrained in my memories that I’m not sure what to make of it – how much did it shape how I interpret everything that followed? It’s the backbone to my understanding of film. I can track my connection with it over time, the way it ebbed and flowed – it carries a certain oddness, a bit unorthodox for a Disney film. With each new viewing, I would either be taken in by its strange magic or underwhelmed with how it compared to my memories. It has never quite solidified.

It was a bit difficult to find the film again for that first revisit – to be honest, I’ve doubted your tale of my ceaseless observation since we didn’t seem to own a copy. I wanted to buy it but the dreaded Disney Vault kept it out of my grasp. Eventually, a friend of mine rented it and we sat on the floor of his bedroom to watch. The pure nostalgia overtook me – I remember being glad I was sitting further back from the television than my friend, leaving him unaware that I started crying at Mufasa’s death.

It’s strange, how easily that scene can choke me up even as a memory.

It’s only natural that, when I decided to attempt making long-form video essays, this was the first film I tackled. To be honest, I wish I did a better job – and it didn’t help I was at the time unaware of Youtube’s copyright bot and had to keep editing the video until it went through, leaving it messier than I intended. But hey – first attempts can be messy. The important thing is to keep powering through until everything comes together.

I really should make more…

This film might not have had the biggest impact on how I view cinema as an art form, but I’ve loved seeing how my perception of it evolves as my view of cinema changes. Is it too simplistic, or is there charm in that simplicity? Is the narrative structure a bit off, or is being a bit off what makes it stand out among the largely formulaic Disney canon?

Whatever new take I find, I always find comfort in knowing it’s there – a childhood blanket I now wear proudly as a cape.

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