I saw two good movies with my family over the weekend: Seabiscuit and The Lion King. Of course neither of these movies is exactly new. Seabiscuit was new to me, but every adult with children younger than 18 has seen The Lion King, and probably more than once. Fortunately The Lion King bears repeat viewing. It’s a great story. I watched the new version with the song "The Morning Report." My verdict: Don’t rush out and buy the new version unless you are hungry to watch the extensive behind-the-scenes material. The theatrical version of the film is quite fine the way it is.
In Seabiscuit the struggles of a horse, his owner, his trainer, and his jockey resonated with the nation during the Depression. The trainer tells the owner, "You don't throw a whole life away just 'cause it's banged up a little." Depression-era Americas couldn't get enough of that horse. He was a hero that everybody could relate to.
You can tell a lot about people from their heroes. And this is how this movie succeeds in being more than just a horse story. It’s a story about three men and a horse (how's that for an alternate title?), but its also the story about how the nation had the heart to pick up the pieces after the Depression and still dare to dream big.
The Lion King is about living up to your responsibilities even in the face of tragedy. It balances the heavy theme with good humor. That sort of balancing act is not often successful. The Disney people are usually too concerned proselytizing liberal values to be entertaining: Pocahontas, Brother Bear.
There are some remarkable parallels between the plot of The Lion King and what our country has gone through in the last decade or so. I don't want to take this comparison too far. Clinton is not "Scar" and the political defeat of the elder Bush was not the equivalent of the murder of the Kingly Lion Mufasa.
Clinton and the decade he represents is more like time spent with Timon and Pumbaa: fun, carefree, and entirely frivolous. Those on the far left think we should be isolationists because the world is too good for us. Buchanan and his ilk on the far right think we should be isolationists because we are too good for the world. Either way, "Hakuna Matata!"
The wiser view is that the U.S., for all its faults, is the best hope the world has for spreading freedom and advancing human dignity. Therefore, our country has a responsibility that is ignored at the peril of another 9/11.