Hans Zimmer: ‘This Land’ from The Lion King
The original motion picture soundtrack for The Lion King was released on May 31, 1994. Subsequent special releases have been seen for this film and the stage production, with ‘This Land being under various titles. For instance, in the legacy collection release in 2014, ‘This Land’ is split between two tracks: ‘We are all Connected’ and ‘Remember Who You Are’.
The first scene that features this underscore is during the rainstorm, the second is when Simba encounters his father, Mufasa’s, ghost. The score begins with a scene in the rainstorm where Rafiki is paining a picture of Simba on a tree. This then shifts to the scene where Simba goes to the river with Rafiki, and sees a reflection of his father, Mufasa. He then looks up, and sees his father’s ghost in the sky. The underscore goes through this scene, and ends with a flourish of the African song ‘Basa’, which sees Simba runs back to the Pride Lands.
The flute leads into the beginning of this score, with low strings and a choir building up to the upper strings entering with a luscious melody, that resolves into a recap of ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’. The music is delicate, yet very powerful, and it supports what is happening on screen, and the realisation of the decisions Simba has made since his father’s tragic death. A rumble from the lower strings and percussion lead into the choir singing once more on ‘Ahhs’ and ‘ohhs’. This rumble depicts the showing of Mufasa’s spirit in the sky. The music slowly builds underneath Mufasa and Simba’s conversation, with there being a clear distinction of who is talking. The music under Mufasa is strong and deep-rooted within the orchestra, whereas when Simba talks, there is a thinner texture, and more winds used.
When Mufasa’s ghost begins to disappear, the music reaches a climax moment, and this is triggered by Mufasa saying ‘Remember Who You Are’. This emotional highlight is supported by Zimmer’s scoring here. The score is mainly in the minor mode, which coincides with the tragedy of Mufasa’s death, and then when his spirit disappears from the sky in this scene. Simba is begging for him not to leave, but Mufasa’s spirit leaves, repeating the word ‘Remember’. This then gives Simba the realisation that he must go back to the Pride Lands and become the king. There is a short underscore of ‘Basa’, which is accompanied on screen by Rafiki’s shouts of encouragement as Simba runs back to his family.
This is a very well-crafted underscore, and really does pull at your heartstrings in places! Zimmer’s effective scoring within this scenes holds us in the moment between Simba and Mufasa, and then when Simba returns to the Pride Lands. A fantastic piece of scoring you must listen to!
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*This blog is part of the ‘German-Speaking Musical Greats Project’ 2019-20