Pride Lands Online
The Pridelands

A short Chris Boyce "Pridelands" biography

The Pridelands was written in the Summer of 1996; mainly during the long golden sunset days of July. So, what makes a 34 year old father of two girls: Mary, 5 and Eleanor, 4, write a script for a Disney style film? Don't ask me, I don't really know. It all started in Corrola on the Outer Banks, NC back in September 1994 when Elton John's latest songs came on the radio. I saw The Lion King for the first time over a year later, on video. I was hooked for life. My script started off with an idea for a treatment for another Elton John song: The One. At that time I tentatively called the script 'The Lion Prince' but soon I decided to concentrate more on the female characters and it became 'The Pridelands'. I soon knew I had to do this properly, that is to try and write a full length script that Disney might just conceivably have considered making into a real film. They won't of course but I can always dream! As a self-employed engineer and programmer I can be flexible about when I work to some extent. During the summer I had little paid work to do so writing filled the time, it also pays but not financially. It's a wonderful feeling to know that someone else can share my private world and see things through my eyes. Hopefully that is what will happen to you when you read The Pridelands. Hopefully I can take you away to the land where the rustle of long grass shows the Pridelands Queens are out and about doing what they do best, but it's Ok, you're not a zebra. Oh you are? Well, keep your eyes and ears open, it's going to be a hard sunset....

22nd November 1996
Chris Boyce, Bsc


The Pridelands.

Version 1.1 - The 'complete' script, character sketches and notes.

This version incorporates many minor corrections and revisions. It also introduces possible songs for 'Etiquette'. 'Despair' has been replaced by a new version 'Faith and Love'. 'Salvation' has been written and added after the end credits. The way in which a main character is introduced has been considerably revised.

Written by:
Chris Boyce, Summer of 1996.
Mayfield, Newport Road, Godshill, Ventnor, Isle of Wight, UK. PO38 3HR

Comments to: boycecj@aol.com


Based on and with acknowledgements to Disney's The Lion King.
All original characters, situations, plot and dialogue (C) Chris Boyce.



*** Introduction ***

________This document is in two parts. The first is in the form of a film script, or an approximation to one, the second is this set of notes and character sketches. Much of these notes concern the plot development and similar background information and are meant to be read in conjunction with the script itself. Much visual stylisation is contained in these notes and when read with the script, will hopefully allow the Pridelands to come alive. All of this was written with no reference to any other official or unofficial sources of any kind, it is just a pure extension to The Lion King and so characters here will have different names to those others may have used for similar characters before, with one exception: I have taken up the Ahadi as Mufasa and Scar's father. I had called him Simba the elder though he is never referred to by name. Thus here our Simba's son is called Thembi though he plays a very small role - we've had all that prince stuff before. So what is The Pridelands? Well, firstly let me state what it is not. It is NOT The Lion King reworked. It is however perhaps a more adult story, that's to say its for adults from 3 to 103 just as TLK was for kids of all ages from 3 to 103. Simba is now a 'responsible' father, he and Nala are the parents of three cubs, who can never be replacements for young Simba. Indeed in The Pridelands Simba is still very much the lead. The 'adult' content comes in the issues addressed and in some of the events that unfold, though 'adult' here implies a degree of maturity rather than violence or sexuality, this is suitable for general release and can be watched by all ages safely, though the occasional awkward question could be raised from the under tens which could probably be answered in some non-embarrassing way due to ambiguity. The central theme is the ebb and flow of the relationship between Simba and Nala and how fate influences them. This is observed both directly and through their cubs, the less 'adult' adults will, hopefully, identify with them and see that adult relationships are not always easy, and certainly not 'happy ever after' and have to be worked at. While Simba and Nala love each other deeply, this is not enough to keep them together. They are eventually reunited, but not under the circumstances we all expect. Nala has to decide to love a lion, not a Lion King. Against this serious background are set the cubs and, of course Pumbaa and Timon, though one of the more serious plot turns results in the apparent loss of Timon, indeed it is, in part, this event that sets the main plotline in motion. Meerkats can't last forever, but he eventually returns, though leaving trouble in his wake. Other events unfold in a most unexpected way that allow Simba to be at peace with himself at last. Along that way we gain a couple of lionesses, Sala and Tana, a double act and no mistake - Tana is a 'mane chaser'... All this would have given a few technical difficulties, later compounded by the dramatic and uplifting spectacle of three generations of Priderock lion side by side, as they must all be instantly recognisable. The Circle of Life is now seen from a different angle to be, perhaps more of a spiral. The sun still rises and sets as before but now on a changed pride of lion; the scars of the past literally and metaphorically wiped clean. Ok, so all this sounds so very serious; but it is not really and through it all runs the lightness of touch, inherent to Simba, which was so loved about The Lion King, this leads to bitter-sweet moments that are interpretable in many ways at the same time. All this is of course played out against the breathtaking backdrop of the pridelands, and its surrounding region which we find does have a human presence, indeed it is this presence that allows the most magical plot turns, though the humans are anonymous and are on for as little time as possible, their presence is felt almost throughout. A lot of time is spent in the notes explaining the reasoning behind this presence, they have a purpose.... The musical tone would have been less heroic, but richer and more imitate, but still with moments of pure fun. The opening song sets this tone as Simba, the king, declares his love for Nala the huntress while we see the lionesses hunt for their supper, to support the pride, to ensure the continuing survival of The Pridelands....



*** The Characters ***

For all main characters as many details as are known are given where they have a bearing on the script. It is assumed that all their basic TLK characteristics are still present, so yes, Timon still has five stripes! For this story extra markings have been added to allow easier recognition as to most of us one lioness looks very much like any other. I have enough difficulty recognising them all in TLK as it is. The character notes were primarily for my own benefit so that I could keep consistency throughout the script, I generally wrote them soon after the character was introduced. If they do not agree with your personal assessment then ditch my ideas and keep your own. Genealogy is a somewhat tricky topic and seems to get purists up in arms for the slightest thing. Here I have tried to make sense in leonine terms of what is actually an impossible pride. I did not have access to any official sources so if my idea is different then, well make up your own mind. I have tried to keep these characters as real as possible, thus they all have faults of one kind or another. In some cases these faults help to allow the relationships to work, judge for yourself. We start, naturally enough, with Simba, but first a delicately pruned family tree, just for the record:

		?              Ahadi           Immue
		|_______+________|_______+________|
			|                |___________________________
			|                |                   |       |
	 Sarabi       Mufasa           Scar        Sarafina  ?       ?
	    |_____+_____|                |______+______|
  ________________|                             |____________________
 |      |         |                             |            |       |
 ?      ?       Simba                         Nala        ?Kovu?     ?
		  |______________+______________| 
		   ______________|______________             
		  |              |              |            
	      Thembekile       Nyala         Zenani


Simba: (Lion) An 'adult' lion.

Mate: Nala
Age: 5y 6m
Sire: ___Mufasa___Dam: ___Sarabi
Offspring: _____Thembekile, Nyala and Zenani

Distinctive Physical characteristics:
________Blue, well goldish brown actually with pink nose that has been known to turn orange. A compact but strong lion with a rich dark brown mane that has a life of its own and is much more like hair than a true mane, it is a long time since it last saw a set of combing claws. Simba lacks the stature and poise of his father, looking much more casual and spontaneous, for example his tail follows him as something of an after thought, though it has its uses. He has passed on this to Nyala, conversely he seemed to have lost the ear rim marks that he got from his mother, I feel he would like them back! He always looks a little uneasy as if life and he were not entirely at ease with one another. The main differences between him and his father are in bearing and build - not to mention that nose and mane!

Character notes:
________The supremely confident cub of 'I Just Cant Wait to be King' has gone, broken in a momentous afternoon that shattered his future. He was going to be king, now he IS king but its not easy. He feels he is living under the shadow of his father, trying always to remember what Mufasa would have done. He relies on his friends and advisors, whilst out there on the Pridelands the lionesses wield the real power. Simba is not very happy - he just wait NOT to be king, which is difficult as few, if any lion have ever ventured on to this lush, if remote area. A challenge is unlikely, and would result in serious, possibly fatal injuries - Simba has never been much of a fighter. He is jealous of his long time friends and advisors, Timon and Pumbaa(!), they come and go as they wish and are free to be themselves. Simba is in a difficult situation, it is even more difficult for a lion king. So how did this happen? Consider this: one day he was totally confident, he would succeed his father and be king of the Pridelands, next day he was dying slowly under the desert sun; a cub, alone and helpless. Then it gets worse! He was befriended by an unlikely pair who prove to be not so unlikely after all. They bring him up, not as a future king but as a fun loving individualist - no one saying do this, be there, stop that or even see here, free to run around all day, free to do it his way - just what he always wanted, and it was great! But even though he grows into a handsome lion he is not really a lion at all, not sexually, emotionally or even gastronomically! Nala awakens his latent sexuality, but it takes time to mature, much to Nala's frustration. Rafiki probes his senses of responsibility and loyalty, and his reactions. Timon and Pumbaa rally round as true friends, loyal in the face of grave danger; well Pumbaa likes that sort of thing! Simba does what a lions got to do, but he's still not a true adult lion! All this however cannot disguise the fact that kings are made; trained; not just born and Simba never learned how to rule and may never learn. If the Pridelands were not so isolated he would have ruled for a very short time, he couldn't even overcome a lioness at one time. Though he later learned fighting is not just about brute strength, but about strategy, balance and timing. He is however much more widely experienced than most, if not all, lion and has gained a wider vision on life. To him its not just eat or be eaten, more where shall we have lunch? Yet the cub has not really gone, with his own cubs the old Simba can return, much to Zazu's dismay, though Rafiki loves this. If he had stayed that way he would have become an arrogant and dictatorial king, no good at all, now he relies on those around him, not a bad thing for a king. Being king is also rather different to what he remembers. He always thought his father chased the hyenas out of the Pridelands, now he finds out it's not that simple! Simba loves Nala, and only Nala. This is a result of Pumbaa's (a confirmed bachelor) and Timon's (ambiguous sexuality - well almost) influence but for a lion pride this is not appropriate. A number of the lionesses would dearly love to spend a few days alone with him but he rebuffs all offers. The pride will eventually die if this continues. Nala is Ok about Simba's expected role as mate to all, she is a conventional lioness in that sense but she still cannot quite see why he is not 'the king I know he is'. He has changed, so has she, they are effectively from different worlds, where the languages are just different enough to keep them from talking effectively. Simba is misunderstood and misunderstanding, but all we love him for it. Unknown to all, least of all Nala, he lives increasingly in a world of his own into which he retreats at times of stress, this makes it seem as if the real world is no little importance, as if he didn't care - but he does, passionately. All outlets for this are blocked by the harsh realities of the world he physically lives in. It is only by convergence of his worlds that Simba can ever be at peace and harmony with either of them. This shows by Simba always looking slightly quizzical or uneasy, never completely at ease. Even at Thembi's presentation he looked at him as if to say 'Did I really do that? Is he really mine, am I a father?', more out of self disbelief than from any fear of Nala's infidelity. Simba is a troubled soul.


Nala: __An adult lioness.

Mate: __Simba
Age: ___5y 6m
Sire: __Scar ___Dam: ___Sarafina
Offspring: _____Thembekile, Nyala and Zenani

Distinctive Physical characteristics:
________Beautiful and powerful, a well proportioned, light sandy coloured lioness with a creamy underside. Not even a hint of gold about her. She has powerful forequarters topped off with prominent rear ear marks and a pronounced brown spinal line that breaks in three on the top of her head. She has a generally independent and pleasant outlook with bright intelligent eyes. Most of us males would give her two or three looks if we met her in a bar but might be put off as she seems to know how to look after herself.

Character notes:
________Nala, well what can be said? Well a lot actually so here goes. She grew up with few friends once Simba was lost, presumed dead and remained close to her mother and thus by implication Sarabi. This resulted in her acquiring a fiercely independent streak combined with a very strong idea of her own capabilities. She learned everything from the powerful hunting duo, making it, in time, into to a flexible threesome, capable of hunting in any combination. All three are experienced and highly capable they can sustain the pride with ease. But Nala, like her mother, cannot resist the call of motherhood and is prepared to use any of her considerable talents to get a lion. As her father was beyond even her wide tastes she leaves the Pridelands, sneaking out by daylight to get help, to get a lion to challenge Scar and to impregnate her. She ended up in finding a suitable lion by accident whilst hunting a particularly substantial warthog - she came face to face, claw to claw, with a young lion who was surprisingly bad at fighting. Despite her 20% weight disadvantage she had managed to overpower him! He then shocked her by knowing her name! Once she had recovered she realised that here was the ideal candidate, the rightful king of the Pridelands and her cubhood best friend - Simba. Though his combat technique needed urgent work. She quickly decided to go hunting again, this time her prey would not escape, he would not even want to. She tested his interest by a pool, sure he was attracted to her but something wasn't quite right, he loved water for one thing! Later she allowed him to overpower her for the first time. As he revelled in these new feelings she delivered the final blow and licked him. This awakened something in him, he was no longer a cub but not yet a true lion. She invited him, but he didn't seem to be sure of what was expected of him, what 'comes naturally' didn't. Nala, frustrated and disappointed, later argued with him, not revealing the real reason why. She eventually taught him and some 105-110 days later three cubs were the result. But who was she mated to? Simba the lion or Simba the lion king? She still waits for him to become 'the king I know he is' but somehow he does not, he doesn't make the decisions, he doesn't know how to act like the king. Nala gets frustrated by this, surely he should act like his father, but no, Simba remains resolutely the lion she met, though did not mate, in the far off forest. What can she do to change him she asks herself? How can she make Simba like she feels he ought to be? This is hopeless, the real problem is that Nala cannot accept that she loves Simba, the lion. She thinks but doesn't feel that its all his fault. Troubled times lie ahead. The unthinkable may yet happen - Nala and Simba may go their separate ways, probably none too quietly. Who will win, the skilled, deadly huntress or the powerful, individual lion? Or will one, or even both, see what's happening and do something to save their lives before its too late? This pair are simply too good together to part, if they do is there any hope for any of us?

Author's note: I find the voicing of adult Nala to be one of the most unsatisfactory elements of TLK. She never came across as being very forceful and independent which I felt, and still feel, she was, or is it is? This may be heresy; I'm thankful I can't be burnt at the stake - though I can be flamed and will probably be saying Hail Sarabi's until the rains come; I would like to have heard Whoopi Goldberg try Nala, poor Shenzi would have been a problem though. Her 'attitude' would have hardened Nala considerably making it easier for me to accept she had left the pride to find help. But then Matthew Broderick would have been eclipsed, though that might have shut the 'Disney are so sexist' reviewers up for a while!



Nyala: _(a Rare South African antelope, grey with black and white vertical ______stripes and buff underside [there is also a closely related mountain ______nyala]) An cub lioness. Often known as Yali

Mate: __Too young
Age: ___7 or 8 months
Sire: ___Simba __Dam: ___Nala
Offspring:

Distinctive Physical characteristics:
________Rich golden brown like her father with delicate blotching all over, she retains most of her cub camouflage and will keep it, though lightened up, into adulthood. She has a combination of her parents ear markings - black tips and backs. She has her mothers light underside, giving her a stark, almost thin look. She is lively and vivacious and rarely stops moving, except to watch other animals. Clearly good training for a huntress. Now, like her father she simply loves to 'run around all day'. She is older than young Simba was when we saw him (probably around 4-5 months), thus she is now around two thirds of her fully grown height.

Character notes:
________Yali is a true daughter of Simba and Nala, bright and confident. She takes most things in her stride and she refuses help and advice. She occasionally refuses to do something in case she can't do it and thus needs help. Yali is stubborn and single-minded, like a wild dog she will follow things through to their natural conclusion and gets seriously frustrated if she cannot. She longs to hunt with her mother but is too young. Her imagination is not inconsiderable and, at times, frighteningly vivid - however it is not yet matched by her experience, she knows there's life outside the Pridelands but doesn't know how to reach it. She has inherited, or learned, some of Simba's wander-lust. Carefully directed Nyala could become an attractive, intelligent, loving and highly capable lioness. Left to herself she could go anywhere, there is simply no telling where. Nyala is a likeable, friendly character who occasionally shows flashes of something greater, a true insight but is more often just a cub who any lioness would love to call their own, many take her under their paw - she is well liked - this makes her a prime target for Immue... Her confidence can become blind. She can, and often does, do things without considering the consequences. This can result in inspired progress or shattering disaster, either way things happen when Yali's around. A lot of things do indeed happen, she makes them happen for good or ill. Yali is prone to making a stand on seemingly minor things, but this is just a part of her (stubborn?) independent nature. She too just can't wait to be independent. She has an overly idealised view of her kind, she thinks that all their food is hunted, whereas only half is lion kill, some 25% being taken from the hyenas alone! She finds such truths come as not entirely pleasant surprises.

Author's notes: For a long time I called this cub Yalli, but then realised that this was likely to be pronounced as in mall in American English, so all references to Yalli had to become Yali to give the sound I had in mind! The 'a' is short as in 'at', not as in 'all'.

The name Nyala is actually taken from a Tommy: a Thompson... B1 class 4-6-0 British Railways number 61016: Inyala, one of 410 built between 1948 and 1952.

There is a song (oh no, not another one - Yes, such is the potency of cheap music) which describes Nyala's feelings really well. This one I'm sure you won't have heard. It was written in, or around, 1976 for another animated film. Though, like Warthog Rhapsody, it never made the final edit. It was written for an older, smaller character, who was that film's equivalent of Nala. The song is called Run Like the Wind, and is not to be confused with other songs with the same titles. It was written by Mike Batt and was sung by a Scottish lass: Barbara Dickson. She later went on to do the lead in an acclaimed musical: Blood Brothers. It was released a few years later as the lead track on an album she recorded: All for a Song. I doubt if this was ever released in the States, it has never been available on CD. Nearly all of the songs on this album could be used to some effect for this story, some are wonderful for Nala, at least for my version of her. Two stand out in this context: Tonight could so easily have been Nala's version of Can you Feel... the other is used in the main body of the script. But these would probably narrow the audience range considerably, they certainly demand more than I could reasonably expect from an audience of kids, though kids are more capable of understanding more than I feel Disney gives them credit for. Anyway, for (and from) the record, here are the words to Nyala's Run Like the Wind:

________There's an eagle in the Eastern sky,
________turning in the wind,
________out across the evening,
________resting on the wing.
________If I had the wings of an eagle,
________there'd be no holding me:
________I'd be free, sane and free. { Versions differ here}
{Alt version: I'd be free, sailing free. }

(Chorus)And one day soon I'm gonna run like the wind,
________one day soon.
________Gonna break away from everything,
________one day soon.
________Nothing in the world's gonna hold me down
________and nothing's gonna keep me in.
________I'm gonna run like the wind.

________And if you should tell me
________that you want to hold me down;
________before the glow of morning
________I'll be gone without a sound.
________The more you try to keep me in
________the less you will succeed!
________Sane and free, sane and free.

(Chorus repeats twice to end)

Ok, then, so what was the film? Well it ended with a fight between two powerful rivals, a fight that was no holds barred, no punches pulled, a fight to the death (almost) with plenty of blood to prove it. Compare that to TLK with its highly stylised fight, no blood, no marks, all very Disney. TLK was about Lion: big, strong, dangerous. This film, Watership Down, was about wild rabbits. Yes, cute cuddly bunnies....
There is no doubt in my mind that this film influenced TLK to some extent. One of its unique characteristics was its use of rich orchestral music coupled with scenes in which no characters appeared. The 'This land' sequence in TLK is just like this, and is remarkably similar to parts of WD's opening title sequence, even down to the bends in the river. The quality of WD is well down on TLK but its well worth a look if you can find it! The epilogue sequence is particularly good and would stand it's own against almost any Disney animation. The song that survived out of three, Bright Eyes, was the most successful song in 1979 over here and sold over 1.5m copies, it was all about - death...! Even this was very nearly cut, the reason? Because to have songs would have made WD like a Disney film, such is the linkage between songs and animation. As an aside, the General, WD's 'baddy' also had sustained an injury to his left eye... In 1978 I had a good idea: to arrange for a VDU, yes it was that long ago, to display stills from WD when it was not being used (a book had conveniently been published giving over 250 such stills). They would change on a regular basis and provide a background to what ever I was doing. There were technical and cost problems which were quite beyond my resources. Those were the days when a 80x24 text only terminal would set you back around o1000. The graphics power required to display such images would have been prohibitive. 18 years later I complain that the Image selection part of LK screen scenes doesn't roll over from the end to the beginning and that I'm not keen on the one with the hyenas coming out of the gorge. My personal favourite is, without doubt, Simba and Nala realising they have reached they elephant's graveyard
- wonderful stuff!



Zenani: (first daughter of Nelson Mandela) An cub ________lioness. Generally known as Zeni

Mate: __Too young
Age: ___7 or 8 months
Sire: __Simba __Dam: ___Nala
Offspring:

Distinctive Physical characteristics:
________A less vibrant gold than Nyala and Simba, she is slowly loosing her cub markings that now show only on her underside. She has soft brown rear ear marks and blends well into the dry grasses. She cannot keep still for anything for any length of time, yet she is slightly less physical than her sister. She never listens to anything she's told. Her tail is particularly expressive and often gives away her thoughts and feelings, her tail, unlike the rest of her, always tells the truth.

Character notes:
________Zeni is not quite as bright as her sister, she is a bit slower on the uptake but is loving and, on occasion, demanding. Zeni takes her time over things but is not slow. She is inclined to be quiet with strangers but opens up once she is confident about someone. She is physically capable but thankfully lacks the blind confidence of Nyala. Zeni looks before she leaps, but then generally leaps anyway. She will probably grow into a reliable, clear thinking lioness, she could even end up like Sarabi if the circumstances remain right. Likeable and responsive to affection, Zeni is something of the 'cub next door'. She can, after an awkward period of getting to know everyone, fit in anywhere and be an effective part of any group without dominating, unlike her sister who will always tend to rise to the top. Zeni is not boring or even ordinary, its just that in comparison to Yali she is a bit less of most things and probably the better for it. She has an annoying habit of jumping on everyone with claws extended. This is not universally appreciated, any prospective mate had better have thick skin! Zeni loves the world she was born into and finds it fascinating and even enjoys watching the bugs her father once ate. She is aware of her environment but is almost totally unaware of time and the concept of getting things done. She, like her father, tells others 'why do today what can be put off until tomorrow?' She has few illusions about the world and accepts most of her limitations and takes life as it comes.



Thembekile: (A very common Thembu name, there were two Thembi's in the circle ________of life chorus. First son, who died in a car accident at 25, of Nelson ________Mandela) An young lion cub. Generally known as Thembi.

Mate: __Too young
Age: ___7 or 8 months
Sire: __Simba __Dam: ___Nala
Offspring:

Distinctive Physical characteristics:
________As a younger cub he was indistinguishable from his father at a similar age, now he is darker, browner even, and has a slightly mottled appearance but retains his fathers distinctive ear rings. He is less bouncy than his father was. Thembi will grow to be a true son of his father visually, probably more muscular with a buff nose tip. At this stage his mane is just a few tufts, giving him an appearance not dissimilar to a domestic Persian cat! He is very physically capable and strong, well he is the grandson of Mufasa, but this only shows when really needed, he keeps his growing power hidden.

Character notes:
________Simba's son lives, to an extent, in the shadow of his formidable sisters. He thus lacks Simba's early confidence and is not really sure that he want's to be king of the Pridelands. Indeed he often feels Nyala should be king! He is not downhearted however and is secure enough in his own sense of self worth to know he will, one day, be out on his own and would cope quite well thank you - regardless of what Nyala might say. He says relatively little and is not particularly quick, in many ways he is like Pumbaa to Yali's Timon. He often spends time alone, out of choice, working through the world's mysteries such as where does the sun go at the end of the day? He suspects its simply behind the world at night. But this sort of thing will hardly help him once he's king. Thembi on his own may be seen as possibly slightly boring, his sense of humour is buried deep thanks to Nyala and Zenani. He needs to spend sometime out on his own, to wander the savannah for a while to develop as a lion in his own right rather than be smothered, however well meant, by lionesses - this is the 'normal' lion pattern, leave the home pride, develop one's own strength and character then take over another pride somewhere else, something his father needs to do to be happy, to be a real adult lion.



Sarafina: ______An adult lioness. Sometimes known as Saffi, but never by
_____________Sarabi.

Mate: __Scar(!)
Age: ___11 but will only admit to 9
Sire: __Unknown Dam: ___Unknown
Offspring: Nala, and a lion cub, possibly others, she's not telling!

Distinctive Physical Characteristics:
________Very lightly coloured with light brown rear ear marks and slight spinal line, spotted on her forequarters if we look carefully. She generally displays a cheerful disposition but her heavy forequarters and rugged profile suggest great power is available when demanded. Sarafina is bright-eyed and attractive in a shot-putter kind of way! She uses her strength in climbing trees, this causes some friction with the leopards!

Character notes:
________Nala's mother is bright, friendly and fun to be with. The best friend of Sarabi, they are often seen together lazing about the Pridelands, Sarafina's light hearted nature compliments Sarabi's more serious aspect. As a parent she is fine, as a huntress she is formidable. Out there on the savannah her cheerful side drops out of sight, she is a professional, a natural born killer. She and Sarabi form one of the most ruthlessly efficient hunting partnerships for many miles around. They work as if they were sisters, which they are not for Sarafina is one of the very few outsiders ever to come to the Pridelands, albeit at around three years old, though why remains veiled in secrecy. She confesses to a moment, well best part of a week really, of weakness. She and Sarabi came into season more or less together, Sarabi, the senior lioness took Mufasa; Sarafina, who wanted cubs at any price, took the only lion available - Scar. 'He had one or two good points' she insists but this union was a business arrangement, no more. They both got what they paid for. The product was Nala, who it seems, inherited more than the lionesses share of Sarafina's genes! She is generous and kind hearted, unless you're on the dinner menu, and would allow others to take advantage of her if it were not for Sarabi (as shown by Sarabi's insistence than Zazu accompany Simba and Nala to the 'waterhole'). Sarafina would like more cubs but is not entirely happy with mating her son in law. She did allow Scar to give her a son, who would now be three or so, but Scar drove him off a short time before Simba's return. This though is normal lion behaviour. Her son may look a bit his father but inherited much of Saffi's character.



Immue: _(After a real Ngorongoro crater lioness) An adult lioness.

Mate: __Ahadi
Age: ___Uncertain probably 15 or 16, an older lioness
Sire: __Unknown Dam: ___Unknown
Offspring: Scar and two lioness still with the pride

Distinctive Physical Characteristics:
________An upland lioness, from a non-native sub-species. She is darkly coloured with pronounced spotting. She is larger than the locals with a longer, thinner, nose but a shorter tail. She is an imposing if a little unsettling sight but her colouration is ill suited to the Pridelands scrub. She is physically vulnerable to disease as she has little resistance to the strains picked up on the Pridelands, it is remarkable that she has lived this long.

Character notes:
________Orphaned, rescued and hand-reared by man, Immue was rehabilitated and released back to the wild at around four years old. However she, being from a quite different region, never fitted in to the savannah scene and, having never learned the subtleties of leonine relationships, now lives on the edge of the pride. She is a sad and lonely shadow of a lioness. However she is not unintelligent but long years of enforced loneliness have taken their toll, she is deeply disturbed (the REAL Immue was REALLY disturbed, far worse than any character here could be, this is considerably toned down from life!). Her one high spot however was, following a now forgotten incident, when she blackmailed Ahadi into providing her with cubs; one, a male, being the son of the king, was brought up as such as the younger brother of two. He, should anything have happened to the elder brother, would have become king. We all know what actually happened! Whilst her son had a chance of greatness she was satisfied, on his death she lapsed deeper into her shadowy world. Now she wants to revenge her son's death and want's it to happen painfully and slowly, and Simba's who's to blame...

Author's note: After all that I have misgivings about including Immue in the final version of the script. She's a villain all right but is probably too real to be a Disney type. This lioness, if she were human would need our help, not our condemnation, she is a sad case of what happens when someone is cut off from society and isolated. She never says anything and her influence is small, she may well not make the final cut, thus saving Timon. May she at last rest in peace with her beloved son. A late plot reorganisation has saved Timon without requiring Immue to be cut, though I still have qualms about her. This, like many ideas, came to me whilst doing the washing up. You see, dishwashers can ruin your LK life!
CJB 25/9/86.
Later still she came into her own at last. I knew there was a good reason for creating her! She now has a good part as the catalyst for the main plotline. She had to have a vocal style created for her, her catchphrase turned out to be: 'Simply too easy.{evil smile}' and she repeats words excessively: 'no, no, no, my dear.' She is undoubtedly the mother of Scar. She eventually discovers that lions who live in canyons shouldn't roar. All qualms gone now, I like her!
CJB 31/10/96




Sarabi: (Mirage) An adult lioness. Won't allow a familiar name.

Mate: __Mufasa
Age: ___12 and proud of it
Sire: __Unknown Dam: ___Unknown
Offspring: Simba and other lioness still with the pride

Distinctive Physical Characteristics:
________Darker, almost hazel brown, than the other lionesses, except, perhaps Immue. She has very distinctive dark brown tipped ears. She always bears herself as the senior lioness, always upright and proud, though in lions pride is no sin. Sleek and well proportioned - a fine lioness, bearing her age well.

Character notes:
________Came to the Pridelands as a passenger and was born soon after her mother arrived with Ahadi. As the first cub to be born on the Pridelands she has always been special, always belonged here. For her to suggest leaving the Pridelands took great personal courage and vision; things must have been desperate. As this has been her home for so long she is intimately acquainted with every detail of the land. She is totally adapted to life here and all other life on the Pridelands knows it. The three Queens: Sarabi, Sarafina and Nala, are the true power on the Pridelands, their presence ensures order. They are respected if seen, feared if smelt without being seen. Simba cannot command this kind of respect, he's just a figure head by comparison. Sarabi mated Mufasa, the son of Ahadi and, like Sarafina, would like more cubs but she is more selective: Scar was totally unacceptable, and Simba, well he's her son! Often she wishes Mufasa would return but knows he's dead, she admits this only to Sarafina, though like all the lionesses she never saw his body. She tends to take out her frustration on the Wildebeest, though this is nothing personal, its business. Sarabi cannot forget her time as Queen, she forgets she is STILL the real monarch of the savannah! Sarafina keeps Sarabi from becoming stuffy and snobbish, bringing her back to earth - generally with a remark that would result in a claws unleashed blow if it came from anyone else! With Saffi, she lets her formal side slip and is transformed into a cool, sophisticated and friendly lioness and a caring mother. She put up with no nonsense from Mufasa nor from Simba, it is from Sarabi that Simba developed his sense of fairness and justice. If you were to meet a human Sarabi, you would not be sure of what approach to make, certainly anything crass would be met with steely indifference, or more likely, a heavy slap! It would be far worse if she was a real lioness.

Author's note: Madge Sinclair will be sadly missed, her portrayal of Sarabi, particularly in confrontation with Scar, gave much flesh to this note. It wasn't the only time she played an African queen to James Earl-Jones' king, in 'Coming to America' the pair did much the same, the scene in the cab must surely have influenced the casting for TLK. Even Simba drew something from Eddie Murphy's Prince Akeem, possibly his taste in lionesses....



Mufasa: An adult lion, secretly known by Sarabi as Fluffy ( Sorry, couldn't
________resist it! CJB 25/9/96 )

Mate: __Sarabi
Age: ___Would now have been 11
Sire: __Ahadi __Dam: ___Unknown
Offspring: _____Simba and other lionesses still with the pride

Distinctive Physical characteristics:
________Richly golden brown like his son, dark mane like his son, generally much like his son BUT with a dark brown nose tip and an always well cared for mane and tail tip. Mufasa was generally more generously proportioned than his son, more heavily built and always looked like a king and always moved like one. He rarely ran, preferring to proceed at his own stately pace. Mufasa always acted the part of king to the full. If he were to be alive now then all this would remain to some extent, he would be older of course, perhaps less proud and less like a king and more like his son, if we were to be able to see these two together now it would be difficult to tell them apart, except for those noses and ears. Mufasa would now move a little awkwardly, due to injuries long since healed, and would appear to have 'been around a bit' as we say. With scarring on his forepaws, shoulders and side, his mane possibly slightly ragged and greying, he would be an older, wiser, lion.

Character notes:
________Why? You may well ask, surely Mufasa is dead? Well, and you'll have to be sitting down with an exceedingly large scotch and a box of tissues for this: He's alive, reasonably well and living as a solitary lion, well away from the Pridelands, so far away that he doesn't know how to get back, and has long since given up any hope of return as he knows his son would now be king. Though he would have had to challenge Scar for control of Priderock. Mufasa is now rather like Simba the vagabond, whilst Simba is a little more like Mufasa the king. Mufasa now follows, when they are around, a camp that springs up from time to time on his patch. This is a convenient source of scraps and, if he's feeling a little under the weather, forms a good place to recuperate for a few days or so. He does not regard those that live there as food, they are his providers. This is a reasonable life for a lonely ex-king, he does not intend to join a pride, his injuries mean his fighting days are over, he avoids confrontation, being prepared to humiliate himself rather than stand and fight. He is no coward of course, merely realistic. He has his own patch, small though it is, and will defend it if it can be done reasonably safely. Mufasa is now a hardened character, wiser and more wary than before. He would see what Scar was up to instead of having blind faith in his brother; but he has moved on from the intrigue of his younger days and is now at peace with his unusual yet satisfying lifestyle - Hakuna Matata he might say, if he knew the words. One thing is certain, he thinks Simba is still alive and one day he might see him again, somewhere out there under the stars....

Author's note: Gulp, what have I done? How have I done it? Well the script answers those questions. How dare I? Well that's easy - this is Disney (Ok, pseudo-Disney) and it needs magic of a type no one else can do, this is it. As far as I know Mufasa was the only main character we ever see actually dead in a Disney feature (experts may put me right on this). It was a bold step and I think the right one. My five and three year olds (Nyala and Zenani...) took it with tearful eyes and understood a little of what it meant, they felt with Simba. There was no blood: visibly at least, Mufasa was practically untouched so what had happened, was he really dead? Certainly he was lifeless and probably by our standards dying but not actually gone yet. For sure unless something happened soon then he would be dead within the hour. He was as good as, and as far as Simba could tell, and as far as Scar wanted to tell, dead already. By the time Scar had gone back to the pride and some of the lionesses had gone to the gorge to see what had happened they found nothing but disturbed ground and strange tracks where, presumably, some large animal had dragged the body off. That was that, back to the rock and Scar's ascendance speech. No Mufasa, no Simba. Scar said Simba had died and no one ever found HIS body, but he lived. Now its Mufasa's turn....



Sala: __(Rafiki's daughter, no, not our one! A seasonal tributary of the Tana
________in the Kora, Kenya) An adult lioness.

Mate: __Zimmale, well almost
Age: ___Uncertain, probably 4
Sire: __Unknown Dam: ___Rafiki (honest)
Offspring: None yet, have you met Zimmale?

Distinctive Physical Characteristics:
________A small but beautiful and delicate lioness. While she is a skilled tracker and precision hunter of small game, she lacks the power to reliably tackle large prey single pawed, her sister, Tana, is not much help here. She is smaller than her sister, and smaller and less powerful still than Nala and the other Pridelands lionesses. She is darker, more golden than most lioness, richly coloured with darker regions around her shoulders, her eyes are a rich orange-yellow. A temptress who never tempts. (The real Tana and Sala were actually the other way round, Tana was the smaller more beautiful one, Sala was bigger. They died, shot, before any one had a good chance to assess their characters. These are my ideas, the real Tana and Sala should not be judged by these descriptions; they certainly did not deserve to die. They were both probably fathered by the real Zimmale.)

Character notes:
________Sala is quiet and unassuming, self confident, thoughtful and not without humour. She is a perfect balance to her sister. Sala has the looks to get any lion if she tried, and has the attractive leonality to match but her time is yet to come; she is sure of that. Zimmale wasn't right, he was Tana's lion, though how much good did he do her? It is difficult to know what the Pridelands lionesses will make of Sala, she is so different physically and mentally from Sarabi and the rest that anything could happen. However her confident, intelligent manner should carry her through any unpleasantness. In time, even Sarabi will come to value her precision hunting skills which, eventually, lead in a significant reduction in the time the Pridelands Queens spend on wasted attacks. And what will Nala think of her, the lioness who takes her beloved Simba? Well, the answers simple, Nala likes her from the start, its Nala who 'arranges' for Simba to meet Sala under more favourable conditions, they become like sisters, bonded by a common love. Remember they are lionesses, that's for sure!



Tana: __(Furaha, Rafiki's sister's, daughter. A river
________in the Kora, Kenya) An adult lioness.

Mate: __Zimmale, as often as possible, though she's never conceived
Age: ___Uncertain, probably 4
Sire: __Unknown Dam: ___Furaha
Offspring: None yet, though not for want of trying.

Distinctive Physical Characteristics:
________A modest sized lioness, of no particular distinction. She is not particularly attractive, though she shows most of the beautiful colouration of her sister, Sala. Tana is bigger and more powerful than Sala, though that power is not evenly distributed, giving her a slightly unbalanced look, not quite the elegant feline we might expect. She is a bigger more 'rounded' version of Sala. Despite her size she is a hopeless hunter, as she is prone to frightening the game. Zimmale, despite his faults, used to help Sala hunt, indeed it was on a buffalo hunt that he died under less than pleasant circumstances.

Character notes:
________Oh dear, what can we say? Tana is a 'mane chaser', her sole desire in life is to get herself a lion. No, why stop at one? The more the better. As Sala says she's in season all season. The problem is that Tana overpowers most lion, Mufasa included! Instead of adopting a more delicate approach she simply redoubles her efforts when rebuffed. She is not unkind, nor unfriendly, she is simply one track minded. Her integration into the Pridelands will be brutal and short, she is not appreciated. It will leave her isolated, a case of sink or swim. Her other qualities will hopefully come to the fore otherwise she will end up like Immue. In the meantime the double act of Sala and Tana rolls on unstoppably. She will one day confess to Pumbaa that no one likes her and considers leaving altogether. Pumbaa confesses that he often felt like that, its a case of 'Hakuna Matata'. She must stop worrying about the past, its over, and start afresh on the future. If she just stopped chasing manes then perhaps the manes might just start chasing her. Respect from the other lionesses would then come in time, if she kept her mouth shut for once! She takes the hint, much to her credit. As Pumbaa says: 'Naa, they won't forget, but they might wonder how well they remember.'

Author's note: Whilst filling the washing machine I hummed a tune, I did not quite know why, until I sang a few of the words. Here are some of those lines: 'woh oh, here she comes, look out boys she'll chew you up, oh ho here she comes - she's a man(e) eater(chaser)!', Domesticity seems to have its advantages! I have Jo Brand, a British post-feminist comedienne, in mind as her voice, though she might object! For Sala I tentatively suggest Victoria Wood, I'm not sure if these two have yet worked together, they certainly wont on this project! They are also white and European, so there's bound to be yet more speculation about racism and WASP dominance....CJB 26/9/96



Timon: An adult male Meerkat, has other names but don't ask.

Mate: __If he can.
Age: ___Who's asking? (he's definitely a relatively old Meerkat)
Sire: ___Probably... ____Dam: ___Now look, this is getting kinda personal!
Offspring: Hey, what is this?

Distinctive Physical Characteristics:
________A Meerkat. That's distinctive enough! Estimate of his height vary from 6" to 12", probably closer to the latter but it varies depending on the situation! He is much more boldly striped than the typical meerkat of Meerkats United from which he undoubtedly was derived. He is otherwise typical but likes walking on his hind legs only whereas other meerkats generally prefer quadrapedal transport. This is probably to avoid him looking even smaller when in the company of Pumbaa and Simba. His broad colouration is matched only by his broad, up front character.

Character notes:
________The wise cracking, all singing and dancing Timon is not all that he appears to be at first sight. His brash, confident exterior is something of a front and although he's quick it doesn't really reflect his intelligence, which, if anything, cannot quite match Pumbaa's. As a pair however they get along just fine, each complimenting the other weaknesses. Timon is occasionally(!) over the top and laughs at his own, bad, jokes too often. His seemingly unshakeable faith in life is irresistible, really though he longs for a quiet life, family, burrow of his own - that sort of thing. He has grown careless, or at least carefree, over the years. He has forgotten the value of the considerable umbrella of protection that first Pumbaa, and later Simba, provide. As a friend of Simba and Pumbaa he is safe, as a meerkat he is vulnerable, VERY vulnerable. His advice to Simba is of variable usefulness: he reacts - he does not consider; but Simba knows this and uses Pumbaa as a balance. Simba is also aware that meerkats don't live long and that Timon is not going to be around for ever. Timon likes to take other's ideas and use them as his own. He also takes some time to get the thread of events around him, whilst he always likes to make out he's on top of everything. If he was serious he would be unbearable but as he is its difficult not to like him, for all his faults. He is, for all that, intensely loyal and a true friend to those he likes. He and Zazu don't get on at all, probably for they are more similar than either would care to admit!




Pumbaa: (Simpleton) An adult male Warthog.

Mate: __Why?
Age: ___Who knows?
Sire: ___Unknown Dam: ___Uncertain
Offspring: Not likely, no time for all that.

Distinctive Physical Characteristics:
________A relatively good looking Warthog(!), loves a good wallow, especially as he's remarkably short haired for a warthog. Has just two significant warts, rather than the four of most others. His flowing black mane is, like Simba's, unkempt and wild. His ears are alert and receptive. He is best approached from upwind.

Character notes:
________Slow but not unintelligent - surprised? You should be for Pumbaa is not merely stupid, he's much more than that - he's spent all his life being put down one way or another and now acts the part. His grip on the world is however considerable, he's used to watching, considering and waiting for the right moment to avoid a potentially cruel wise crack. He is inclined towards self-pity. All Pumbaa really needs is some personal success and assertiveness. What may happen after Timon is gone is anybody's guess, but he could come into his own, it could be that his time will come. Until then he remains the perfect foil to Timon and the perfect meerkat transport system, though Thembi runs a close second. If there's one thing that Pumbaa likes more than mud, its food - any food, any time, any where. He really isn't interested in being a father, life's too good for all that sort of thing. It may have been an incident relating to such things that led to him becoming an outcast, but who knows? He likes Nala and, perhaps surprisingly, spends a fair amount of time with Rafiki, for Pumbaa is older and more experienced than he seems at first sight; a bit of a dark horse in fact... He's quite prepared, and capable of looking after himself in the field, those tusks (actually upper canine teeth) are well able to inflict severe injuries if well directed.




Rafiki: (Friend) An adult male Mandrill.

Mate: __Unknown
Age: ___Too old to bother to count
Sire: ___Unknown Dam: ___Unknown
Offspring: None known, probably none.

Distinctive Physical Characteristics:
________A old, thin mandrill, whose, well, how can I put this delicately, behind is blue rather than the normal orange/red! This could explain the distinct lack of a Mrs and little Rafikis. He is remarkably agile and usually carries a long stick topped by hanging gourds. Has been known to use his stick as an offensive weapon. If approached he might try to sell you something and get unpleasant if you don't buy anything! Lives in the bowl of a massive baobab tree.
Author's note: The spelling checker in Works didn't like baobab, not unsurprisingly (it doesn't like nyala either), however it suggested baboon as the alternative. Creepy....

Character notes:
________Rafiki's stick marks him out as a sangoma, a medicine 'man', though his credentials are of doubtful origin. He lost count of his birthdays years ago, it is doubtful that he can even count but as nobody else on the Pridelands can this is not widely known. Just how Rafiki came to live in the Pridelands - he clearly is from another part of Africa - and how he came to be in such an position of influence with the kings is not recorded. That influence is undoubted and his experience appears to be broad as well as deep, clearly he knows some ancient magic but then again... His language is said to be Swahili, however all the songs he's involved with (He lives in you, It's time) suggest he's Xhosa. Simba has respect for Rafiki but they are hardly friends. Rafiki's use of his stick saw to that, however he is friendly and approachable. A enigmatic character who never gives anything away about himself, perhaps his latest friend Pumbaa can get the juicy details, but we shall have to wait and see. His sexuality is doubtful, or at least confused, but that can be said about most of him!

Author's note: I shall never be able to sing 'Zadok the priest' with a straight face again! For me, Zadok will always have a blue.... It is clear that Circle of Life drew, possibly unconsciously, from British coronation imagery. 'Zadok' is one of the most famous coronation anthems and its musical structure: chant like pattern in the strings, building by steady variations to the most wonderful, fortissimo, choral opening: Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon king. And all the people rejoiced and sang: God save the king, long live the king, the king shall reign for ever and ever, hallelujah, Amen; sounds familiar. Time it right and this works as the music to the opening of TLK. Try it, the choral opening should coincide with Rafiki holding Simba up, to do this you will probably have to run the video after the start of the introduction of Zadok, depending on the conductor! It seems that the 18th C was good for film music as Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus, Requiem and Handel's Zadok (1727 for George II) all date from this century....




Zazu: An adult male Hornbill.
Mate: __Said to exist, name unknown
Age: ___Unknown
Sire: ___Unknown Dam: ___Unknown
Offspring: Probably, he likes to talk non-specifically about his family.

Distinctive Physical Characteristics:
________Reportedly a hornbill, but which species I haven't yet discovered. He is a brightly coloured bird with long tail feathers and is given to dramatic aerial swoops at crucial moments, very pretty. His feathers must be quick growing for he's forever loosing them. He makes the perfect pouncing target. His eyes are excessively large, which accounts for his role as savannah info- junkie. A bright splash of colour, not just visual, on the Pridelands.

Character notes:
________Zazu is a formal bird who takes his role seriously, much to Simba's annoyance. He always tells the same jokes and gives the daily report in exactly the same manner each and every day. This can be used to good effect as you know where he'll be! He acts as personal assistant and social secretary to the Pridelands kings. It is possible that he's always lived here and took up this role when Ahadi and the Pride moved in, as the resident filofax he was naturally found to be indispensable. His loyalty is to the kingdom not to the king, what he will think of Mufasa's return is unknown. I suspect Simba may well find a lot of the flak he has sent Zazu's way will come back with interest. He's spent such a lot of time around (and even in) lions that he's beginning to forget that he's a bird. He is known to have many anonymous relatives, though where these might be is not well established.



*** The notes ***

You'll have to wait for these. There aren't so many as I expected as so much has stayed in the script. But first the answer to a simple question:

________Why a script? The answer is simple: because The Lion King was a film, or, if you're from over the pond, a movie. TLK has never, as far as I am aware, been 'novelised'. The two media are quite different. In a book the author has more freedom to manipulate time, to convolute the plot, to expose different angles, to develop characters in depth. In a film script there is less opportunity to do these, though a writer still has to address all of these issues. A script must usually stress one thing: to tell the story through the dialogue of the characters, there are many notable exceptions to this of course, especially in 'art' cinema, but in general a 'mainstream' movie must concentrate on the plot via the characters. In animation this is even more true as the visual stylisation is less capable of displaying subtle emotions and states of mind, what happens is critical, it is the animation itself that gives life to the characters. TLK is notable for it's portrayal of really quite complex emotion for animation. I doubt if any male in the audience did not understand Nala when she looked at Simba during Can you Feel the Love... Yet no words were used. Animation characters can have only a limited range of expression compared to a live action actor so what they say becomes even more important. If we are writing for a mixed age audience then the problems become even more difficult as we have to keep as wide a range of the audience as involved as possible. TLK was a superb example of this. It's as if the younger and older viewers saw different films at the same time. If we consider the needs of our younger audience then further constraints appear, The narrative must be clear and flow linearly. Thus Timon is used as a 'rustic' to help explain to those who weren't really following the dialogue: 'Time out...Lemme get this straight. You know...'. We must also avoid adding confusion by overly manipulating time. Even so we accept the stampede happening at midday (brilliant sun, shadows cast directly below) we then see Mufasa dead on the gorge floor, also at midday, though through the haze of the dust. Yet by the time Simba has scrambled to the top of the gorge it is sunset. We accept this and it looks great and it fits our emotional expectations as Mufasa once said : 'One day, Simba, the sun will set on my time here and will rise with you as the new king.' Indeed it does but we see the new king lying dying on the desert. In a script we must be careful to get the timing right, at least right enough to allow suspension of disbelief.
________A script is a quite different animal to a novel. The constraints are greater and the challenge rather different. To have done this as a novel would have required an altogether different approach and probably a different plot. That's why so many people complain about films: 'Well, it's Ok but it's nothing like the book.'. It cannot be, very often the book is concerned with thoughts and emotions and reactions to situations, books often give only broad sketches of locations, or otherwise super-accurate descriptions of precise detail thus we may be told exactly what is on a table at a dinner, even down to how low the candles are burning yet we may be told nothing about the walls of the room in which the dinner takes place. It is the intimacy of the table that matters not the location. In a film we see both the table and the room and most likely the house as well, all elements must be present, a book thus has to be 'opened out' for the film, sometimes loosing those qualities that made the story work as a book. With all this in mind I decided to write this story as a script and add as much visual imagery as I reasonably could. I was fortunate that as you all had seen The Lion King you could add the background and much of the visual detail for yourself, though a real production would have had to find its own visual style and voice. This would have come through the wider range of terrain than was found in TLK. The rocky areas were inspired by a region bordering the Namib desert, however I am sure there is nowhere where such a wide range of terrain can be found in such close proximity. This is not Africa, this is my world, my own Pridelands.
________I found that I had to have a clear concept of the characters before I could write for them effectively, this is where the character sketches came in. They were not intended to include every detail, they are just sketches, instead they were meant to include useful traits and historical details that would allow them to act and interact consistently and clearly. It is thus only Sarafina who can get away with calling Sarabi 'Too old' to be interested in lions. Sarabi isn't of course, Sarafina is just being 'catty'! Immue was interesting in this respect. I had originally thought that she would be simply lurking in the background and would be talked about by others. She was to have been thought to have killed Timon to get at Simba who would then have been forced to do something about her. Then it became clear that there was to be too much introductory material at the start and that the main plotline needed to get going as fast as reasonably possible. To do this I decided to bring Immue out of the shadows and onto centre stage. She now had a talking part so a voice was needed for her, she, being Scar's mother, must have clearly influenced him so she must sound closely related though not simply a female version of Scar. This in turn allowed Timon to be kept alive.... The sequence where the dogs are introduced by Zazu was originally to have been part of a second morning report. Again this would have elongated the start, so the vital part was integrated into the first morning report. The remnants of the old scene were then recycled and placed at the end to explain Timon's absence! If this were to have been used in a real film then this would most likely have been scrapped altogether as the end would probably have been cut tighter. However as I am working on my own and don't have the feedback of others I have kept it in as I like it! Also this would have been merely the first draft as had it been produced, much hacking, tuning, replotting and rewriting would have been needed before it was ready to be animated, I have been spared that! Likewise the music and design would have been done by others, My ideas would have just been starting points and definitely of little more than passing significance. Disney animated films have always used only original music, such use of existing material would not have been acceptable.
________Plotting is tricky and, for me at least, evolutionary. My original idea involved Simba's daughter, as yet unnamed, running away from home for unclear reasons and Simba going after her. He was to have been shot by poachers and nursed back to health by humans. He would have eventually returned to Priderock to find that his son had taken over during his lengthy absence. He would have left with Nala into the sunset. The problems with this were primarily motivational. Why did it happen? Why would we care? I realised that a spot of true magic was needed. I wondered what was the one thing that all those who had seen TLK would most like to see but would have never dared hope for? What would Simba have most wanted but never dared hope for? What would make this film memorable? I knew what I wanted. It was however impossible to achieve, unless... What, I thought, if those who helped Simba had done this some years before? If so, why? The reason for their presence was given to me on a plate. They were releasing wild dogs back into the wild, and it gave a useful set of hooks as such reintroductions are rarely successful as dogs do not behave as a viable pack by instinct, they do it by learning from the pack around them as they grow. This allowed a running(!) joke to be developed which gave a role for our fearsome threesome, the hyenas. Now, as this is the second attempt to release dogs, I had a reason for the human presence and an opportunity for them to come across a dying lion in a gorge.... Still I had this vision of Simba and Nala leaving the Pridelands to form another pride elsewhere. The problem was Thembi, as this would leave the pride in even greater difficulties than before, requiring either a lengthy tailpiece or another sequel! No, this was too messy, and I could see no way out. Mufasa and Simba together would not have worked if all Simba had was Nala. I had other problems, the return to Priderock was turning into a long 'buddy' sequence, thick with dialogue but lacking in action. I planned a dramatic river crossing scene in which Simba, who is happy in water, would have to save his father from drowning in a swollen river. Fine in principle but just didn't seem to work right. Perhaps a hunt might be better, we've already seen how it should be done, the contrast with Simba and Mufasa would have allowed a few humorous moments. I outlined it on paper and put it to one side. Then the pieces started to fall into place. What if Simba and Mufasa were to encounter another lion? Yes, but Simba was no good at fighting and both were somewhat the worse for wear, the result could only be death of one or both. Ah but, what if they were to encounter some lionesses? So Sala and Tana were born, they could provide the genetic balance the pride desperately needed. Simba could stay, we now had a two (related) lion, nine lioness (or thereabouts) pride with genuine breeding potential. Not perfect but workable! As I wrote Sala's approach to Simba I thought what I needed was a contrast, so Tana barged past her half sister and the rest flowed naturally. The plot problems and motivation had now been mostly resolved. The structure was more balanced and the end wrapped up reasonably well. Time to sort out a few indulgent details, mostly funnies, and that was that. Well almost, as less than one third was at anything other than outline stage I had to embark on a crash writing program which continues still... In this process the buffalo hunt took on new significance as it was now the key moment in Simba becoming the true king of Priderock as he makes the final step to being an adult as he takes his destined place in the Circle of Life.
________All this had to have a background based on reality, Simba had, I felt, to be a lion, not merely a human in a lion suit. Thus his attitude, and that of Nala and all the others, had to be based to some extent on what a lion might think. Simba thus is perhaps a little quick to resort to a swipe when Ed hangs about; Nala expects Simba to mate with other lionesses and the cubs don't always get treated as though they were the most important things around. The hyenas are shown to be vital providers of lion food, if anything it is the lions who are the 'scavengers', though they much prefer fresh meat and disdain carrion. As much as 25% of many a lion's diet comes from hyena kill. This also allowed Simba's early memories to be shown as being somewhat selective. The 'classic' scene of lion feeding off a kill with hyenas lurking restlessly in the background is generally not because the hyena are waiting to take the kill from the lions, it is because they are waiting to take what's left of their kill back! All very unlike Disney, but there again I am not writing a real Disney film, just a fantasy one, my version of Disney is allowed to have a sharper edge and treat it's audiences with the kid gloves left on the cutting room floor. To achieve this I have borrowed from many sources. For instance, Elsa's favourite method of controlling her cubs, apart from a sharp cuff, was to sit on them! Her son, Jespah, could not always be relied on to withdraw his claws. Whilst Timon's adventures were derived from those of a meerkat in 'Meerkats Divided' called Bandit who really did take advantage of Nkosi's mate while his back was turned.
________What about Timon and Pumbaa? Indeed what about them, they don't really have a scene together. There are good reasons for this. Firstly I can't easily write for them! I'm not a gag writer and wise cracks are not my scene. Anyway I thought that Pumbaa on his own would make a refreshing change as the pair have been seen quite a lot recently! It turned out that there were no scenes in which they were together for any length of time, remember that originally I was going to bring Timon's short life to an end! The cubs would not have been pleased! Likewise Rafiki, whilst being useful in providing motivation, does not play such a pivotal role as he did in TLK, he certainly has no need of any special powers. This is part a consequence of using an emotionally based plot, rather than a action based plot. In this story things happen because of what characters think not just because of what they do. It's less accessible to children however so I had to strike a balance by careful use of humour (I can't write gags so humour it has to be) and the familiar supporting characters; thus Pumbaa had to go after Simba, just to avoid the return to Priderock from becoming too heavy!
________Did I succeed? Well, I don't think I'll give up the day job just yet. Although I set out to write a film that could conceivably have been produced by Disney, I feel that I strayed early on from that path into areas which, understandably, the Walt Disney company would fear to tread. The concept of an animated, mainstream, film for adults which children could also enjoy is not a new one, though it is a rare one. This is NOT it and by some margin. One of the messages that could be given by this script is that a lion must be prepared to kill to maintain it's place in the Circle of Life. Fine for a lion and a message I would be quite happy to spread around here in quiet Godshill, but I know this would be seen as incitement to riot and worse in Miami or Los Angeles! And what about portrayal of a children's hero as a confused kid in a lion's body? One who breaks down in front of his father? Well, I'm Ok with this, why can't males be shown as human? But others might read this as an attack on the role of the father. I feel strongly that it can strengthen that role, I AM a father of REAL children. Ok, so what about Nyala, a female cub who behaves as you might expect a son to behave? Well, why not? Do you have a problem with that? If so, perhaps you might examine your own ideas first. Nyala is based on one of my own daughters, Nyala is a little older perhaps but my daughter is no tomboy, just an ordinary young girl who's slowly finding her own place in the great circle. I also noticed that, over time, the tone became significantly darker. 'Chase' in particular as this deals with transition from the tranquillity of the Pridelands(cubhood) to the danger of the other savannah region(adulthood) with its frightened animals and ever present feared pride, even though they turn out to be just Sala and Tana! We never get to meet the really dangerous male, Zimmale, and perhaps that's just as well. In this and surrounding scenes Simba's illness plays a strong part. I originally conceived this as a device to help explain his (in)actions at certain critical parts of the plot. However later it's role was unconsciously extended so that it mirrored Simba's decline into what had become depression, though I never intended it to be like this. As his illness gets worse so he pulls back into his private world and away from the real one, his self-doubts grow and he more and more convinces himself that he's no longer wanted. His body is healed but he is not, if it wasn't for the fact that he thinks he's already dead as he sits in the stockade he would probably be suicidal! This is not a Disney character. Even after he finds his father his depression does not lift entirely, this is not the Simba I had intended to create though I feel he retains most of his dignity throughout. Perhaps this is all too heavy for kids under, say, 10. There again, perhaps I've just lived with him for too long!
________This was my first serious attempt at anything approaching 'creative' writing. Apart from being an engineer I suffer from one other major disadvantage, I have never been to Africa. I have only ever seen lion lazing about in zoos, not surprising Simba takes time to be a lion, and never becomes the king Nala knows he is. Oh, well it was fun - while it lasted.

And now for some real notes. These could have been inserted in the script and often give additional detail or related information. They are not essential to the script but just help to provide background. First some notes to illustrate my reading of certain vital scenes from TLK:

The scene where Mufasa's 'ghost' appears to Simba is possibly the one that may be seen as the biggest problem. Just what did Simba see? In this critical scene Rafiki says:

Correction - I know your father.
...
Nope. Wrong again!....He's alive! and I'll show him to you.
...
No. Look harder....You see, he lives in you.

{ Mufasa then appears to Simba, momentarily in the pool and then in the clouds. }

What was that? The weather - Pahpph Very peculiar. Don't you think?
...

I have taken this to mean that Rafiki shows Simba his own memories of his father. The pool is a metaphor for Simba's mind. First he sees his reflection: his familiar outward appearance. Rafiki then tells Simba to look harder: harder, that is, at himself who he sees in the water. When Simba does so he sees the image of his father. Then, in a rumble of thunder, he hears his father call to him from the clouds, and not from the stars as we have been led to expect had he been dead. At no time in this sequence does Rafiki acknowledge that Mufasa is dead, indeed he states categorically that he's alive. Rafiki also does not say he saw Mufasa in the clouds, all he admits he saw was 'very peculiar weather'. True, it was Rafiki that led Simba to the water's edge, to Simba's own memories, but it was Simba that looked in and saw his father in himself. The key word of this scene, and indeed the key word until the end of the film is 'remember'. This is not to say that Simba has forgotten his father, it's just that he has selectively suppressed some memories that Rafiki has brought back to the surface now that Simba's time has come. So all that Simba saw came from within himself. If Mufasa is alive and well then that's no real problem in this scenario. He can be somewhere else whilst Simba remembers him. The same can of course be said if we assume he is dead. Mufasa is not required to be present in 'person' in this interpretation of this scene. It seems likely to me that the writers carefully arranged this so that they could possibly bring Mufasa back at some later stage if required. I took this somewhat literal interpretation of these events as one of my aims when writing The Pridelands was to have a less 'mystical' approach to the TLK story. There is still some room for divine intervention - the hand of fate is strong in this script.

Scar, as far as I am concerned, died at the end of TLK. The hyenas were seen to be in an unforgiving mood at the end and there were quite enough to deal with Scar. Indeed we saw his shadow as he was smothered by hyena. Consequently he finds no place in The Pridelands. However I do have a problem with Scar which did have some bearing on this script: that is why was he so different in appearance from his brother, Mufasa? The character difference is also a problem but that is possible within families. I decided, lacking any 'official' evidence of any kind, that they were actually half-brothers with different mothers, Scar being born after Mufasa. Both were sired by the same father, presumably the previous king. This solved most of my problems and gave me a valuable asset in Immue, Scar's mother. She, I decided, would be the genetic source of Scar's differences from his 'brother'. African culture (specifically Thembu culture from Nelson Mandela's autobiography 'Long Walk to Freedom') gave me the reason why Mufasa treated him as a full brother. Now all I needed to do was to explain why Immue looked so different. So Immue became a re-introduced lioness from a different sub-species who had not properly integrated into lion society.

We all saw a cub being presented to the all the animals at the end of TLK. We do not know it's name. It occurred to me that it might be female but as we saw Simba being presented I assumed that the cub was almost definitely male as he was the new future king, as Nala put it. I needed cubs for The Pridelands and wanted the one I was to use most to be female. Why? Because we had all seen what future kings get up to so I felt it was time for a story to centre around a female cub. Now I needed Simba to have two cubs, not a problem as lions usually have from two to four cubs. Five is not uncommon as indeed is one, such as Simba himself. I had another motive for giving him and Nala three cubs, simply that as I was basing the female, at that time called Inyala, on my eldest daughter it would be unfair of me not to give her a sister based on my other daughter. These cubs had to have names so once more Nelson Mandela helped me out, even down to the familiar versions: Thembi and Zeni were taken from his first born son and daughter. If, in the extremely unlikely event that he ever reads this: Thank you for showing us the way and for enduring the longest walk.



*** The One ***

As if I haven't already said enough about this scene...anyway here are a few background notes regarding how this scene was planned, in terms, that is, of how it might have been filmed: To prevent the hunt from becoming too frightening to the younger audience it is important that it is kept realistic, avoiding the cliched snarls and bared teeth that are assumed to accompany a lion attack, as indeed accompanied Nala's attack on Pumbaa. These lionesses are professional - this is how they live. To announce their intentions by snarling and growling would not help them and would warn their target of their approach, preventing a clean kill. Lions do not hunt particularly aggressively, this is a job to them, just part of everyday living like going shopping. The presence of Another is to indicate the ever present danger facing the lionesses. They do not always have it their way. Related to this is the series of probing and failed attacks which characterise real hunts. We have all seen film of lionesses in action, it must be remembered that the films are invariably cut from edited highlights from many weeks of hunting and rely on the fact that we find it difficult to distinguish one real lion from any other. Thus what appears to be a one minute hunt by two lioness may well be from ten hunts by six lioness over a period of two months! We simply do not see the joins nor the failures. We, however can tell our Pridelands lionesses apart, they have exaggerated markings and have been introduced one by one (except Another, who it would be best if we don't get to know by name). Thus this hunt must be coherent, linear, progressive and choreographed carefully. The long continuous moving camera shots would be practically impossible in live action, requiring ultra-precise and highspeed helicopter flying dangerously close to deadly obstacles such as Priderock itself. The down-draught would blow Simba's mane the wrong way in any case!. The 'Zebra-cam' that ends the sequence would also be difficult in live action and impossible in a natural history documentary. Lion generally don't go for the head, they often strike the neck, just behind our 'zebra-cam' view line. The aim is to knock the target over or at least unbalancing it with the power of the attack. The aim is not to kill at first touch but to kill the prey on the ground. Heavy prey may need two or three lioness to bring it down if the first strike is not clean. Nala is precise and knocks us down first time, though Sarabi and Sarafina take no chances and strike again, unseen, from the side and behind to ensure the prey stays down. Death would probably occur by asphyxiation but this should not be made clear! The sunset is symbolic of the kill's death (if that's not a tautology) and give us an excuse for not showing the dead kill or it's subsequent consumption. The final roars, firstly by a lioness, probably Nala, then Simba, are just a means, for them, of announcing a successful conclusion to the hunt, a leonine dinner gong and the cue for the main titles for us! To actually see a lion strike from the prey's angle would be of real value in terms of natural history if this is a reasonably accurate and realistic hunt. It also draws the audience into participation. Hopefully, with the 'dead-pan' handling of our lionesses, they would not have been drawn in too personally; they must never feel Nala is after them in particular. We never get to see the kill from the 'outside', even before Nala's strike. To do so would be to invite identification with the zebra as an individual. To see the target would make it more personally involving - this is not likely to be acceptable in a family film. The kill must thus be unidentified, as indeed to a lesser extent is the injured Another. Our audience must not feel as if they should be afraid of a lion attacking them as they leave the cinema as part of a 'herd'. Luckily they hopefully have 90 minutes or so in which to forget this! Another part of this is Simba. He is handled deliberately theatrically, this is a 'show', to remind all that this is just a film, honest. It is the music that bridges the two, it is an intense love song with powerful accompaniment, needing a powerful character to 'sing' it. Simba is ideal for this.



*** Gossip ***

The point that I was trying to get across here was that Simba hasn't changed, he's still the lion cub of 'Hakuna Matata' and even of the graveyard. He hasn't really grown up at all yet he's a lion, his cubs prove that. Yes, he's the king but he still thinks like an overgrown cub. It's not that he's selfish, he isn't; nor inconsiderate or immature, it's just that he cannot resist being spontaneous and has a short attention span. He flits from one thing to the next and avoids making decisions that would result in him having to pay attention to any thing for very long. He live for the moment and enjoys life as it comes, rarely thinking about the consequences of his actions, except when doing so helps him to find excuses for not doing something he would prefer not to do.



*** Revelations ***

In this scene we see a lot of communication going on. Nyala is feeling insecure and in need of a display of love and protection. We might say: 'There now, it's all right, I'll look after you.' But Simba is a lion and a carefully aimed lick is all that's required, it speaks volumes. That, combined with close physical intimacy is how he reassures his daughter. It give us a fair dose of the feel good factor. It also allows us to have two dialogues, one in spoken words, one in body language. They are lions, a very physical and sensual species, paws and tongues speak louder than words, but hey, don't shout - claws aren't needed here!



*** Stockade ***

This is a possible spot for a song. We have had a few so far and this may be the last chance before the pace and mood changes. This is only a suggestion but I rather think Simba would like to sing 'Lord is it Mine', from 'Breakfast in America' by Supertramp, a great song from a great album, one of those 'concept' albums that were so much a part of the 70's music scene. This needs a slight modification to the words, the third repeats of the title could use 'Lord is it Time'. The problem with this song is that it is very close to the mood and style of 'Sorry seems...', but Simba is just great at this sort of thing, introspective, reflective and emotive. But it does get the point across about Simba thinking he's already dead. At the end he should simply run on to the next lines, we will then understand why the vet can get any sleep!


....

What are you waiting for?

Eh, you want the words? Oh, very well then, but you could find the album, it is available on CD, at least it is over here. These, by the way, are my interpretation of what I think was sung (except the change of mine into time, the words given on the CD, if there are any, may not quite agree. But I should be thankful Elton John didn't sing it.

________I know that there's a reason why I need to be alone
________and show me there's a silent place that I can call my own.
________Is it mine?
________Oh lord, is it mine?

________You know I get so weary from the battles in this life,
________and there's many times it seems you're the only hope in sight,
________Is it mine?
________Oh lord, is it ~mine?

________When everything's dark
________and nothing seems right
________there's nothing to win
________and there's no need to fight.

________I never cease to wonder at the cruelty of this land,
________but it seems a time of sadness is a time to understand.
________Is it time?
________Oh lord, is it time?

________When everything's dark
________and nothing seems right
________you don't have to win
________and there's no need to fight.

________If only I could find a way
________to feel your sweetness through the day
________the love that shines around me could be mine!

________So give us an answer won't you?
________We know what we have to do.
________There must be a thousand voices trying to get through.
________Oh lord.
________Oh lord.


Ok, so why do I put these songs in here? Well, it's just that these songs encapsulate the mood I am trying to portray. They are musical descriptions of a state of emotion. I can't write them myself so I have to use songs written by others. I have known these songs for years but have, until now, never been able to find the right imagery and situation for them to mean something more than the words and music alone could do. The One is great but, for me at least, add the hunt and it becomes somehow even greater. Of course Disney would never have gone for this, they would have used original songs, but I don't have Elton John and Tim Rice on my payroll.



*** Through Faith and Love ***

Before this scene had Sacrifice added to it it was called 'Despair'. The following was it's final version before 'Sacrifice' was added:

{ It is evening back at Priderock which we see with one of this film's trademark flying shots. Nala is approaching the cave entrance with three cubs. Yes, Nyala's back home. As we approach we see that she is physically unmarked from her experience but she is subdued and quite unlike the Nyala we saw before her departure from the Pridelands. Nala shoos the cubs into the cave with her nose gently. Zeni protests: }

Zenani: Come on Mum, I'm not tired.

Thembi: Me too, can't we stay outside and play?

{ Nyala walks quietly into the shadow of the cave. }

Nala: Now then you two, can't you see your sister is tired?

Zenani: Yali, tell us what happened, come on, come on.

{ Nyala stops, turns and looks out to the plains, the light is almost gone. }

Nyala: I don't want to talk about it.

Zenani: {excitedly} Come on, it must have been great!

Nala: Now then, stop all this. If Yali doesn't want to talk, that's Ok.

Nyala: {Still looking out} Dad's never coming back, Pumbaa's never coming back, Timon's never coming back and it's all my fault. He told me to say he was sorry.

{ Zenani and Thembi sit and stare at Nyala intently. Nala gently pushes them away into the cave. }

Nala: {almost silently to Zenani and Thembi} Go inside, settle down and get ready to sleep. Zeni, you had better wash properly tonight, you hear?

Zenani: But Mum...

Nala: {shortly but quietly} No buts, get inside. Your sister will be along in a minute.

{ Zenani and Thembi get up and walk into the darkness, heads low. Nala watches them leave (if only my kids were as well behaved!) then, when she is sure they have gone she moves to Nyala's side and sits by her silently. After a few moments Nyala breaks the silence. }

Nyala: If only I hadn't run away, they'd all be still here wouldn't they. It is my fault, isn't it?

{ Nala moves her head closer to her daughter's and licks the side and top of her head. }

Nala: You mustn't think like that. You can't change what's happened. If I had bothered to listen to Simba he wouldn't have run away too. He was sick, I could see that but I thought kings couldn't get sick. I know he was sorry. I'm sorry too. You shouldn't be sorry, you couldn't change anything. Immue was going to get to you no matter what, she didn't care who she took down with her.

{ Zenani and Thembi have crept back out and lurk in the deep shadows behind Nyala and Nala. }

Nyala: Mum, who'll be the king now?

Nala: Stop worrying about kings. {with a catch in her voice} You've lost your father.

Nyala: {sadly} And who have you lost?

Nala: I've lost...{pauses to think exactly what she has lost, she thinks of the pool, the long days after the return to Pride rock, the birth of three cubs, the presentation of Thembi, the evenings together on the plain, the mornings on the rock}...the best lion and...{she remembers trying to wake Simba in the mornings, trying to get him to do anything just for her, the arguments, the long times alone while he was with his friends}...the worst king I ever knew. {she remembers his look as he set off, sick and alone, to find Nyala} But he cared about you {turning to the other two behind her} and you two as well, though he didn't always look like it. Even his friends loved you in their own way. Now they're gone the Pridelands seem so empty, so quiet. Come here you two, come close to your mother.

{ The lurking cubs move gingerly out of the shadow and up to their mother. In the growing darkness they can now see the first of the night's stars between the clouds. One seems brighter than the rest, one dead ahead in the sky. They all look in silence for while. The camera rotates round them (this is difficult to animate but it's great when it's done well) starting behind, finishing looking at the foursome from dead ahead. All have similar, sad, expressions suggesting their loss is indeed great and heartfelt. This is the cue for a song. This one is one that I mentioned in the notes to version 1.0. However I realised that it made a lot more sense to put it in here for Nala to sing to help explain her feelings. It is called 'Surrender to the Sun', written by Mike Batt in the late seventies and despite the marshall references is actually a rich and powerful slow love song touched by regret for past events. Here is to be sung by Nala to the stars as her cubs sit by her side:

I have been out manoeuvered.
I have been invaded.
I have been overrun and infiltrated.
I have offered strong resistance,
but you brought me to my knees.

You can lock me in your dungeon.
You can throw away the key.

Ooo, it's easy to surrender
when your time has come.
Ooo, don't leave me -
when the night surrenders to the sun.

Oh we have cried the tears,
we have sustained the bruises,
and though I say you win, nobody looses.
I have tried to turn around
and I have tried to walk away.

But the love that flows between us
is growing stronger every day.

Ooo, it's easy to surrender
when your time has come.
Ooo, don't leave me -
when the night surrenders to the sun.

Ooo, it's easy to surrender
when your time has come.
Ooo, don't leave me -
when the night surrenders to the sun.


After the song has ended suddenly and for no obvious reason their expressions change, first to shock then to surprise and finally, for the cubs at least, joy. The camera pulls back to reveal the reason for this: standing, somewhat out of breath, forelegs stretched out to either side. }

Timon: Hey, what kind of a welcome is that? You look like you've seen a ghost.

{ Nala looks sternly at the meerkat as the cubs rush towards him. }

Nala: Where have you got to? Why did Immue say she'd eaten you.

Timon: Yeeeagh! {pulling back in distaste for a moment before the cubs pile upon him}

Cubs: Uncle Timon, where have you been?

Timon: Come on you lot, {as they all turn and run off} let's all go and...

Nala: Hey, Timon! {but the cubs have run off, she tails off to herself} It's bed time...

{ Nala sits alone for a while. She shakes her head and looks back to the sky. }

Nala: Come back Simba, we need you - I need you. {she drops her head and continues sadly} We love you - I love you.

{ From a high viewpoint we see Nala on the rock, just below we see Timon and the cubs engaged in some kind of pouncing game, Thembi is the target. To the otherside we see Sarabi and Sarafina approach and climb the rock to join Nala. Elsewhere we catch glimpses of most of the Pridelands life, including other lionesses deep in the grass. }



*** Tonight ***

A short Pridelands story.
The evening of 31st October 1996.

______Simba and Mufasa ambled easily across the plain below Priderock in the shimmering steely blue of the early night's full moon. Just fourteen short days and nights had passed since the two kings had returned to their birth place. The tips of the grasses waved and shone in the moonlight like the surface of the river they had so recently crossed though all that seemed so long ago. Mufasa was home to his Sarabi, who, it now seemed certain, was to give Simba at least one brother or sister in a few months time. Thembi had not yet been told of this, though it seemed likely that he would soon find out for himself, especially if Nyala was to hear of it first. But who would be the one to tell him that he might not be the next king? His father or his grandfather? Mufasa favoured consulting Rafiki; Simba favoured insulting Rafiki and telling Thembi himself. Anyway, he thought, the cubs might all be female, though they might not, in the fullness of time, be the only ones his mother and father were to provide for the pride, and what was he to provide? Only Sala could tell, and she was, as ever, keeping herself very much to herself of late. She secretly felt herself to be highly honoured to be a mate of a king of the Pridelands, though Timon had told her just a few days ago:
______"Never confuse love with pheromones.".
Nala had surprised Simba by her change of attitude. Now Simba felt she was too accepting and too understanding of his free and easy ways. Though it was as clear as the moonlight that she really did love him after all that he had, and had not, done for her. He could not stop thinking about her, about the way her eyes shone in the setting sun, about the curve of her tail, about the softness of her fur and the touch of her pads. He stopped and sat back as once more Nala came back into his mind. She was worth coming back for, worth all the pain and suffering. Yes, he thought, it had been no sacrifice at all. Then he thought of the suffering he had endured and particularly of the days and nights in the place he couldn't name. There he had had no thought of Nala, nor of Nyala, Zenani or Thembi. There he had had time only for the memory of his father. Simba closed his eyes and let his head drop as he realised just how close he had come to giving up on everything that had ever been important to him. He remembered that he had felt sure that everything had given up on him. With that much pain how could he forget? His mind wandered on through the wilderness that he had escaped into, so alien to him that he would not have cared if he had been taken there and then to join his father. Simba smiled broadly as he remembered that he had joined his father, and, perhaps not quite as fondly remembered, Pumbaa. It still seemed a dream; those short hours before his first kill. For those hours he had been a cub again, so small and dependant with only his father to protect him and only his mother to provide for him. As he watched the buffalo he had grown into a lion at last and found he could protect his father and even provide for him. Though even now, beside the still great bulk of his father, he still felt a little like the cub he had once been. How could he feel otherwise, he would always be Mufasa's son, this did not displease him. Mufasa? A moment's flash of panic shot through Simba, his mind raced as his body tensed for action. His eyes flew wide open, his pupils glowing bright green with the bathing light of the moon. Where was Mufasa? Simba knew he had been in himself for some time, much too much time. Where was his father?
______Mufasa sat staring at Priderock which towered blue-white against the mile-deep blackness of the night. Some twenty metres in front of him sat his only son, clearly engrossed in some thought as deep as that night. Mufasa too remembered the past as he and Sarabi had sat, somewhere near this spot, just a few days before Simba's birth. They had chosen names for any cubs that may have been born. In the end it had all been of little use, as soon as he was born Sarabi had said that he was such a beautiful little lion that he had to be a Simba, so Chaka was abandoned in the instant and Simba it was to be, even so Sarabi had had to say it twice to Rafiki on the dawn of his presentation just six weeks later. No one managed to hear Rafiki shout "I give you this son of the king: Simba" over all the enthusiastic calls, shouts, trumpets, whinnies, roars, growls, hoots, chirps and yelps of the Pridelands residents. Suddenly his son, now fully adult, rushed towards him, clearly in much distress.
______"Dad, are you all right? I couldn't see you. What were you looking at?"
______"I'm fine, I was just thinking."
______"About what? I thought I was the only one to do much of that."
______"Hey, watch it son. That sounded like cheek to me."
______"Sorry Dad, I didn't mean any..." But Mufasa had raised a paw to
stop Simba, who immediately noticed his father's stare had widened, his rough patch of fur on his back bristled up, his shoulders felt tense and his ears were held fully forward to catch any sound that may come from the rock. Simba looked round from his father and caught sight of what he could only describe as a creature of shadow, a fearsome apparition of darkness that crept over the rock. It appeared to Simba to have a massive bulbous horn growing from the top of it's hair covered head, it's spindly arms were held high, hair hung from them like decaying flesh. Horror gripped Simba and Mufasa as the shadow monster shock its arms noiselessly, for as it was of shadow and death how could it make any sound? Mufasa could stand it no longer, perhaps it had come to take him. He jumped up and ran as fast as he could, headlong across the plain. Simba ran after him, though where he knew not. He dared not look back, though had he done so he would have seen a puzzled Rafiki standing atop an acacia tree, his stick held between his knees, his arms held aloft against the disc of the moon shouting:
______"Trick or treat? Eh you two, where you off to? Eh? Come back!"



*** Footnote ****

The Pridelands: My Virtual Reality.
27th September 1996.

________I first came into contact with The Lion King in September 1994. I was staying at a magnificent beach house at Corolla, North Carolina whilst working with some radar equipment. It was superbly equipped, just outside my bedroom, on the deck, was the hot tub, bubbling away. It seemed as if the whole beach was mine, I would often stand on the upstairs deck over looking the Atlantic thinking of home, thousands of miles out there over the water. The radio would be on, tuned to the same station all the time, though I don't know what was, and every half an hour one of two songs would be played. When I had left home I had heard neither of them but somehow they had the power to carry me back across the vastness of ocean. I was instantly drawn to one in particular, I could sing it! Though to find out exactly what the words were I would have to wait a further year or so. The other song I couldn't quite get to grips with. They were both obviously by Elton John and stood out by virtue of their sophistication relative to all the other fare churned out by the station. I had heard that a new Disney film was out and that Elton had done some of the songs, but I couldn't believe that both of these were from the film. The better one was just too, well, physical, to be a Disney song surely. The other I could accept as being from the film, though there was no announcement to confirm this. It was to be over a year before I found out the truth. One thing puzzled me, why would Elton have two songs out simultaneously unless they were from different sources, surely this would 'split the vote' and make both less successful. Clearly this was the case here in the UK where neither quite made the top ten. The weeks passed pleasantly enough, the radar worked most of the time!
________The months passed as they normally do, the daily round of work and life continued as before. The Lion King was released in the UK for the summer of 1995 and everybody seemed to be going to see it, except us. For endless weeks I kept on seeing the adverts in the local paper and each week we said we would take the kids to see it, every week we somehow failed. To be fair I wasn't particularly keen, the trailer I had seen on other Disney videos, was dark and seemed to be all about hyenas chasing cubs down hills. It left me with a rather negative feeling, it had none of the brightness, warmth and irrepressible bounce of the film. To be fair this was in part a technical problem. For those of you who don't come across the pond UK tv is made to a different system to US tv, our frame has 625 lines compared to the 525 of US tv, the frame rate is 25Hz compared to 30Hz, the horizontal bandwidth is some 0.5MHz greater, these all give visibly better resolution, films transfer to UK tv better by the simple expedient of running them at 25fps thus avoiding the frame to frame interpolation required for US tv. This avoids the 'smearing' effects. I get perfect still frames and can examine The Lion King frame by frame from a VHS tape. Laser disk never stood a chance here. The colour system is different and is much more robust allowing better saturation and colour accuracy. Our tv has a fresh, live quality that particularly suits natural history, drama and current affairs - things for which UK broadcasters are justifiably proud. The trailer was probably standards converted from a US trailer with re-dubbed commentary, this further reduced the picture quality, no wonder it seemed dark and foreboding!
________I was surprised when I heard that The Lion King was to be released on video that October, it was barely a month since it had left the cinemas. What I did not know was that my wife had ordered a copy to be collected on release day....
________In that November we held a small, and rare, cheese and wine evening for a couple of friends. I was able to enjoy most of a bottle of Chianti whilst crunching on Stilton crackers, a wood fire burned in the grate to push back the cold of winter. Someone suggested we put on a video, someone mentioned The Lion King, someone else agreed, none of them were me and there were only four of us there. Through my bottle I could see that here was something rather better than the typical American centred Disney film, I quickly found out what that other song was and loved it as I now understood what it was all about. I found I seemed to know the plot: I knew it was Simba's cubhood friend in the grass about to attack Pumbaa, though I couldn't remember her name. It clearly had a much more international appeal, the songs flowed from the narrative in a way they had not in any recent Disney production, they seemed at least as much aimed at the parents as the children, at least until it came to the other song with which I was familiar. This was not for kids, this was, and I was embarrassed to say it, bordering on erotic. It was Can you Feel the love... and it was sublime, though it had been mangled somewhat awkwardly for the film, its quality shone out over Priderock. That's all I really remember of that evening. I found the bottle was empty the following day.
________It was to be Christmas day that I next encountered Simba and friends as the kids were introduced to The Lion King, they were enthralled, they were just four and barely three. They loved Simba and Nala and played out their adventures over and over again (just like Nyala and Zenani...) and quite readily accepted Mufasa's death, without fear but with a few tears. I felt that the Disney company were too delicate about such basic truths of life and that they, perhaps, might treat their audience a little more robustly in future. I, totally sober, loved it too and instantly resolved to be more like Mufasa to my children, though I did not succeed, the real world is not like The Lion King and Simba never said 'No!' fifteen times on the trot. From that day I was hooked and very soon came to think of Simba as more than a two dimensional drawing, he had somehow, to live, to become real, if only in his peculiar private world of the Pridelands. It was to be the release of Elton John's Love Songs album that was to provide the starting point. It seems that this album was released as a vehicle to get Can you feel and Circle of Life on to an Elton John Album rather than just a just Soundtrack, over here soundtracks do not command much respect in the music business nor from the public, Disney soundtracks are regarded with a certain element of disdain, 'Oh, that's just for kids...'. On this CD is another song, written within a year or so of the Lion King songs, which immediately struck me as being, conceptually at least, appropriate to Simba - The One. The words were almost perfectly suited to be sung by an adult Simba, just a few minor changes and I had, for me at least, a near perfect song for him. Then, one day as I used the CD to test a player I had repaired, it struck me: it would make a powerful opening song for a sequel, but what kind of imagery would I need to make it work? The accompaniment was attacking and powerful, sharp and, now I saw it all plain, just like lion hunting. Within minutes the whole concept had become clear. In my mind at least a new Lion King film had opened. The One would have worked, or so I thought, the problem was what to follow it with, how to make Simba come alive again? That turned out to be difficult. It has been said that one should always write about what one knows, but I did not know about lion. I DID know about my children and my personal experience of relationships. Simba 'lives' in a virtual world far removed from anything real. In his world there is no colour, no race, no religion, no nationalities, no prejudice, no poverty, no politics, no technology, no weapons, no drugs, no alcohol, no money, no taxes - none of the harsh 'realities' that plague our world. It could be anything I wanted, anything could happen, and I wanted Mufasa back - I got him! The plot is very personal, not that anything like this has actually happened to me. I share Simba's difficulties, the Pridelands is to a large extent my attempt to work through and resolve my two worlds, by putting it into some kind of physical reality, a script, I can play out those difficulties, allowing my two worlds to converge. I always saw it as a film, in that it could be seen and watched and believed, and for a while at least, to be somehow 'real'. I shall probably avoid Simba's Pride at all costs as I will find it extremely difficult to reconcile someone else's view of what has become my intensely personal world.
________I not yet seen The Lion King at the cinema, I keep toying with buying the widescreen version on video, but cash is tight and my wife would shout at me for wasting the money (she hates widescreen videos!), she's probably got a point.
________In my mind I see another video of Can you feel the love... A lone man stands against the rail of a high deck on a wooden beach house overlooking an ocean at sunset. He looks out across the waves that break foamily over the clean white sands. He sings (probably badly...) and as he does so we see, in the flickering light of an open coal fire, sitting on a red and blue Turkish rug, two young girls watching The Lion King on video. Their mother sits behind waiting anxiously for the telephone to ring. He does not call, he does not dare to call...He left under less than happy circumstances.

[Intro][Part 1][Part 2][Notes]

Text version of The Pridelands Biography
Text version of The Pridelands Notes

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