On the left side of the ring, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, a beginning of the George Lucas Star Wars Empire, captured the hearts of millions around the world by itself, all the upcoming sequences successes should be rightly attributed to the most epic movie that grossed a whopping $300mil, a stupendous amount for a film made in the late 1970s. On the right side of the ring, my first ever movie as a kid, the one, the only, Disney’s Lion King grossing almost a billion dollars worldwide and won the hearts of every kid who watched it. Both films depicts a story of a hero, when that happens we must definitely include the master of the Monomyth, Monsieur Joseph Campbell himself and his ever so wonderful book which says it all, “The Hero With A Thousand Faces”. Before I begin comparing these two movies, I would like to point out that one man had significant parts in both movies, albeit not staring in them, his voice did all the work and created magic in both these magnificent films, that man is James Earl Jones. “Life is a journey, not a destination” — Ralph Waldo Emerson, he is quite right in so many ways, let us begin to explore the magical and eventful life of both Luke Skywalker and Simba.
In both movies, the most important lesson it teaches us is the truth always hurts but we must understand it to improve ourselves. “With great power comes great responsibility” — Stan Lee. As we all know, when a person comes to power, it is almost impossible that he will voluntarily let go of it, therefore power must be handled with supreme care. This article tells of how the heroes rise to power, facing the various obstacles in life to eventually achieve their dream. They both live in an ordinary world, with the knowledge that their father have passed and carry on their lives with ‘relatives’ who nurture them since their separation from the respective families. Both are coincidentally met by a part of their past and as such the journey begins. The Call to Adventure is when the hero is offered a chance to go into once in a lifetime journey. Luke received his call while he was cleaning R2D2 (a droid previously owned by his father), which call came from a distressed Princess Leia who needed a help of someone named ‘Obi Wan Kenobi’ to help her and her people. The call continues as R2D2 wanders off and Luke tracks him down to eventually encounter an old hermit, Ben Kenobi who previously went by the name Obi Wan. Ben again offers Luke the chance to join him on and adventure and to save Princess Leia too. Simba encounters Nala, his childhood friend who advises Simba to return to the pride and reclaim his rightful spot as King of the Jungle subsequently restoring peace to the land again. The hero then refuses the call mostly due to responsibilities of their part. Luke refuses stating that he must remain in Tatooine to help his uncle and he had responsibilities that were given to him. Simba refuses because he feels responsible for his father’s death in the stampede which he thought he caused. Honestly, I believe that both Luke and Simba are afraid of change; they want to remain in the comfort zone that pleases them enough.
The influence of the supernatural aid is so crucial in the plot point of both these stories, they may come from objects or rituals but they are all the same, it gives the heroes a meaning to live life to the fullest. Luke received his father’s light saber from his mentor, Obi Wan and was shown the path of the Force, which he choose as he lost everything precious to him when the Empire raided his uncle’s house. Simba is also guided by his mentor, Rafiki, the baboon who tells Simba to look deep into his own self to realize his father is within him, an apparition of Mufasa is created by Rafiki. As Simba speaks to his father, his father stresses that Simba’s destiny was to be the true king of Pride Rock. As his father disappears into thin air, there is an echo to remind Simba to remember who he really is. The mentor shows us the path but we must tread it ourselves because we learn through experience and mistakes. Their next task is to cross the first threshold, into a place where they are vaguely familiar of or has never been before. Luke travels to Mos Eisley, a spaceport town with Obi Wan where they meet the guardian of the threshold and Obi Wan uses the Force to control the mind of imperial troops by saying one of my favorite quotes of the Star Wars franchise. “These are not the droids you are looking for”, some sort of Jedi mind control that amazes young Luke. They enter the belly of the whale in ways of their own unsure of the future that awaits them; Luke enters it as the Millennium Falcon gets caught in the Death Star’s tractor beam and Simba when he leaves his childhood behind to take his rightful place in Pride Rock.
The initiation of their journey is underway as soon as they encounter the road of trials; they face these obstacles with the help of their friends. Luke has the courageous Han Solo and his Wookie companion Chewbacca to help him rescue Princess Leia, the one who plead for Obi Wan’s help at the beginning of the movie. His mentor, Obi Wan however leaves to shutdown the tractor beam so that the crew can escape. Before he left, Obi Wan said,”The Force will be with you, always”. Besides the light saber, the Force is a Jedi’s true weapon, more powerful than anything else you can imagine and Luke’s longer trial was to master the ways of the force. They encountered Darth Vader’s minions, the Imperial Storm Troopers along the way, knock them cold and took their uniforms to blend in with the others. The later trial was when they were trapped in the trash compactor of the Death Star. Simba had the help of Timon and Pumbaa, his close friends when no one were there for him and lifted by the single most cheerful song you will ever hear, ”Hakuna Matata” when he was in despair after his father’s death. Nala also accompanied him back to Pride Rock to face his father’s true killer, the sly and evil Scar who also has his own set of minions, the Hyenas. Both Luke and Simba met the Goddesses in the early part, although Luke did not know it yet, Princess Leia was actually his twin sister separated at birth. Simba however knew Nala and from the time we see them as cubs, we know they were meant to be together. This part of the story is slightly different to separate these movies in their own way. In Woman as Temptress, Luke had feelings for Leia when they met but we are unsure whether it was sibling love or emotionally attracted to her. I would suspect the latter and the few things holding him back were his need to master the force and the presence of Han Solo who looks attractive Princess Leia, basically he got family zoned by his own sister. Simba’s case was a normal one, childhood friends becoming best friends and eventually life partners. Her beauty when she grew up captivated his imagination and emotions, there was no one else but her just like Jake Sully from “Avatar” said that he choose Neytiri above everyone else. This love is mostly manifested when the two potential couples spend a lot of time around of each other, getting used to their presence in the process.
The Atonement with the Father was a rather difficult part to find in Luke’s journey because he was told that his father was killed by Darth Vader (We know later in the franchise that Vader was actually the father with a dramatic scene where he says to Luke, “I am your father”) but Obi Wan was the father figure in his journey and his atonement was to master the ways of the Force to become a true Jedi Knight. Simba got his atonement when he was about to slip down the cliff and Scar tells him that it was not Simba who was responsible for Mufasa’s death but Scar himself. Simba becomes relieved of this news but at the same time was pissed that Scar did it. The Apotheosis was so obvious in Star Wars with the scene of the Mentor, Obi Wan battling Darth Vader to delay him from capturing the other crew members. Obi Wan fought well but his age failed him as he succumbed to the supreme power of the Sith Lord. Obi Wan’s death devastated our hero but he soon realized that Obi Wan has become one with the Force and accepts that everyone will die. Simba realizing he was not the true cause of Mufasa’s death (actually he is indirectly responsible but let us not get to that) leaps above Scar and pounces onto him. Scar was frightened by his sudden rise in physical strength and flees away, Simba consequently giving chase and backs him to the top of the Pride Rock. Scar puts on a pathetic cry baby look and begs for mercy, claiming that he is family and the real enemies are the hyenas. Hearing this, the hyenas attacked their previous master for his betrayal, killing him in the process. The Ultimate Boon was a different thing for both Luke and Simba. Luke always had the boon which was the Death Star plans in R2D2 but as they were still in danger, he could not receive it yet. As they leave in the Millennium Falcon, they practically confirm the safety of the plans. Simba received his when Scar was defeated, claiming his place on the top of Pride Rock where he walks through the rain to hear his father speak to him to become the true King.
The return from the journey for both Luke and Simba are worlds apart, so different but with the same ending. The return of Simba was rather simple, he did not refuse to return as King as he knew it was his duty that must be accomplished. His magical flight was through the rain and magically sees his father’s image which spoke directly to him to affirm his place as King. Simba crossed the return threshold by rebuilding Pride Rock which became barren during Scar’s rule. He made it a better place for the animals in his kingdom and served as the good king they deserved. Simba got his freedom to live when he marries Nala and have cubs with her, relinquished his anger for his father’s death and anticipates a whole new life with his newfound loved ones. Luke had a much more sophisticated return than his counterpart. Luke refused to return when he saw Vader murder his mentor, releasing his anger (the Sith’s true power comes from anger) by shooting at the Storm Troopers giving chase. He ignored the pleas of his friends to escape and only did so when the voice of Obi Wan came to him saying, “Run, Luke, Run” (reminded me of “Run, Forrest, Run” in the movie starring Tom Hanks, “Forest Gump”). They enter the Millennium Falcon and go on a magical flight in space, in the process falling into the trap that was laid to allow them to escape so that the Empire could get their route towards the Rebel’s hidden base. He returns not to Tatooine but to Yavin 4 where he relays the Death Star plans to the Rebellion Army. They rapidly figured out a method to destroy the threat and deployed Luke Skywalker in one of the fighter jets. Han Solo refused to help them because it was none of his business when they requested for his aid. The only way to destroy a Death Star is by shooting proton torpedoes (totally not related to Proton in anyway) down the shaft at a specific trench. 2 groups were assigned to that single task and failed because of Darth Vader’s prowess in gunning down the rebel ships with his own TIE fighter jet. Luke took upon that task and as he approaches the trench, Obi Wan advises him to trust the Force to ‘guide’ him when targeting torpedo (we call this blind faith in religious sense). Just as Vader got a lock on to Luke’s fighter, The Millennium Falcon comes out of nowhere, destroys 2 Imperial fighters escorting Vader and eliminates the threats giving Luke the time he needed to concentrate. He hits the mark perfectly few milliseconds before the beam was supposed to be fired on Yavin 4. The Death Star exploded like supernova, killing everyone in it. Vader lives to fight another day. They have won freedom, but are still under threat from the clutches of the Empire and even this does not stop them from having a small celebration to reward the saviors.
The Hero’s Journey or the Monomyth is an amazing concept to decipher the hidden secrets of the movies, that all movies are different and yet the same. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope and Lion King are both movies that have come out through phantasmagoric imagination of the screen writers and credits to the authors of the respective books. These 2 movies are written based on the exact thing, some call it the Force; some call it the Circle of Life. Whichever we choose to understand, we must know that there is definitely one thing in the universe that governs the way we live and die. “It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else” said Erma Bombeck. Advancement in film technologies brought about today’s essentials such as Chroma Key and Animation through which the directors present to us their ever wonderful dreams in magnificent sets. Much credit should be given to Joseph Campbell for his time doing research that inspired us to compare movies especially in his book “The Hero With A Thousand Faces”. I would like to end this essay with two quotes from George Melies who inspired almost every director that succeeded him.
“If you’ve ever wondered where your dreams come from, you look around… this is where they’re made”— George Melies
“My friends, I address you all tonight as you truly are; wizards, mermaids, travellers, adventurers, magicians… Come and dream with me.”— George Melies