Disneynature’s “African Cats” Similar To Disney’s “The African Lion”

January 2, 2011 • By Home

On Earth Day, April 22, 2011, Disneynature will be releasing a new movie titled “African Cats.” The movie is directed by Keith Scholey and Alastair Fothergill and produced by Keith and Alix Tidmarsh.

In the movie we will get to see a true story of a lion cub who is being raised by her mother, as well as a cheetah who is a single mother of five newborns. And we can’t forget about Fang, the proud leader of the pride who works to defend his family from a lion that was previously banished from that same pride. Sounds a bit like Disney’s “The Lion King” to us!

What we think is really interesting is that Disney released a similar movie on September 14, 1955 titled “The African Lion.” The movie was directed by James Algar.

In “The African Lion” a photography team consisting of Alfred and Elma Milotte, spent three years in Africa studying the animals and came back with lots of useful footage of lions and other safari animals. The movie showed the animals in their natural habitat and showed how the effects of natural occurrences would affect the animals and the way they lived.

Interestingly, the documentary’s theme of the annual life cycle was looked back at when the Disney Company began working on the animated movie “The Lion King.”

“The African Lion” was later shortened to be used in schools in a release titled “The African Lion and His Realm.”

The New York Times reviewed the movie back when it came out, here is an excerpt from the review:

“A commendable job of direction and editing has been done by James Algar, and an excellent score of music has been provided by Paul Smith. It is notable and much to be applauded that none of the usual Disney bits of whimsical cutting and playful tricks with footage to make for humor have been popped into this film. While there are lots of bright touches in it, such as a baby elephant chasing an egret, there is no attempt whatsoever to humanize or burlesque the animals.”

It would be interesting to compare “African Cats” and “The African Lion” side-by-side and see the similarities and differences in the storytelling as well as the way the animals act.

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