Almost a quarter-century since its release, The Lion King remains a landmark of American animation, and its opening number can stand on its own as a four-minute masterwork unto itself. Its animation and backgrounds are notably spectacular, its images are iconic, and the instantly-recognizable beat of “Circle of Life” sets a powerful tone more dramatic than perhaps any Walt Disney animated feature before. But, honestly, would it kill Elton John to just shut the fuck up for once?
Finally, that moment of Sir Elton closing his G.D. mouth has come with this Lion King edit someone named Phil has put together. In it, all John’s rambling about the sapphire sky has been cut. In its place, we hear the imagined ambiance of the African Pride Lands. Birds chirp; the ground rumbles beneath the hooves of zebras; James Earl Jones purrs. The familiar scene suddenly feels less like a musical epic than an animated nature documentary. And it makes you think: wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a Planet Earth episode where a monkey grabbed a lion cub and held it over a cliff?