Jon Favreau's The Lion King: Where did the directorial romance go?

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Currently, Disney's "The Lion King" remake is in the cinemas that director Jon Favreau staged using state-of-the-art technology. However, FILMSTARS editor Tobias Tißen lacks something very decisive: the romance of filmmaking ...

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a picture of Jon Favreau on the internet during the production of his "The Lion King" remake, which has been in German cinemas since July 17, 2019. Then you see the director, sitting in a dark room and working with virtual reality glasses on the completely animated film - which significant role this technique played in the realization, we have already explained in another article.

Anyway, when I saw the picture, I had to think directly of Francis Ford Coppola and under what crude circumstances he set up his anti-war epic "Apocalypse Now" in the 1970s. For example, if you compare the images from the documentary "Journey to the Heart of Darkness" to the seemingly endless, exhausting, all-insane production of the film with the snapshot of Jon Favreau, then you suddenly realize how very much the filmmaking has changed in the past 40 years.

And I wonder: where has the directorial romanticism gone that surrounds so many of my favorite films that make them even those first?





THE FASCINATION GOES FLUTE

Please do not misunderstand me: I do not mean to say that this "high-tech filmmaking" is not artistically demanding and so no good or even outstanding films are created. I just can not seem to be fascinated by such films as "The Lion King," which sets new standards without any doubt or develops comparable titles that go beyond the pure product.

When I look at a documentary like the mentioned "Journey into the Heart of Darkness", I sit with my mouth open and remember why I love the medium of the film so much. For me, not only the finished strip but also the story behind it counts. When I see how much passion and effort has gone into a movie like "Apocalypse Now", how much it means to those involved, it keeps growing in my mind, it occupies me much longer than just the two hours in which I am amazed at CGI landscapes and laugh about Timon and Pumbaa.

By the way, equally good examples are "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" and "Fitzcarraldo" by Werner Herzog, about whose production the visionary director speaks in his documentary "My dearest enemy". There he tells how he stole a camera for "Aguirre" and shot a fantastic movie on the flooded Amazon with a budget of only $ 370,000. Or how he actually had a whole ship pulled over a dense jungle-covered mountain for Fitzcarraldo. And these are efforts that are noticeable in the final film, even if you do not know these background stories.

"My job and those of the character [Fitzcarraldo] have become identical," writes Herzog in his diaries. If it had gone to the will of the studio 20th Century Fox, he would have drawn in the scene a model ship made of plastic on a studio hill. I do not want to start here from the incomprehensible escapades of Klaus Kinski, who make up most of "My Best Enemy" and who only contribute to the myth of "Aguirre" and "Fitzcarraldo".





WHERE ARE THE CRACKS OF PERSONALITIES?

But strong personalities like a Coppola or a Duke, who defy adversity and studio authority in order to capture exactly their vision on celluloid, need to turn a strong film into a masterpiece.

And then perhaps that also means that these persons are not shining clean. Herzog, for example, was often and harshly criticized because, among other things, production workers suffered from his almost fanatical nature of filmmaking and even risked their (and his) life. And also over Stanley Kubrick, one hears again and again how obsessed he was. That he had some scenes repeated until vomiting (the famous baseball bat scene from "Shining" required an unbelievable 127 takes). Should that be okay? No, certainly not. Does it fascinate me? Definitely!

Because these are the stories that create a myth about a movie. And if Jon Favreau flies through the artificial expanses of Africa via virtual reality, then such stories do not arise. And should something extraordinary happen, then mega-studios like Disney do everything to make sure that it does not come out in public anyway? Instead, you only hear how smooth everything went.

There must be no risks today, everything has to run smoothly and smoothly, there is hardly room for crass personalities. And so "Apocalypse Now" would probably never have been completed these days - at least not with Francis Ford Coppola as director. And Fitzcarraldo would have pulled a CGI river steamer over a studio hill, Werner Herzog watching him with virtual reality glasses.
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