The Scarlet Letter
CUT TO: Michael Eisner, seated behind an expansive desk of hewn Sequoia wood, counting out piles and piles and piles of profit dollars from "The Lion King."
VOICEOVER: The two largest grossing Summer films of 1994 e.v., so far have been The Lion King and Forrest Gump. Why? Aside from the treacley-sweet nature of both films (which will always appeal to mass audiences if handled with intelligence), and aside from the stultifying visual magnificence of both films, and also aside from the informed performances in both films of some of the most talented young film actors in the world, it occurs to me that both films are modern constucts of extremely powerful and enduring Ur-myths: in this fact, I believe, the reason for the success of both films lies. As William Shakespeare could have happily attested but probably did not,"Nothing gets the bums in the seals like a good myth."
Much has been made of debt that Roger Allers and Rob Minkhof owe to Shakespeare's "Hamlet" for both the script and the success of The Lion King. Yet I have neither heard nor read any mention of the fact that Osiris/ Dionysius/Quetzacoatl/Christ/Arthur (okay, so he's the Bear King, but you get my drift) is just as prevalent an element in the persona of Simba. It is my further contention that the dying-and-resurrected-god is also specifically implicit in Shakespeare's character, Hamlet, hut I've argued with too many English profs over that issue to press it.
Similarly, the persona of Forrest Gump is a direct translation of the Pure Fool/Harpocrates/Dionysius/Parsival: unencumbered by the illusion of "Knowing" yet possesive of "Awareness" sufficient to master the Physical plane ("I'm not a smart man, but l know what Love is"). Many critics have dismissed the notion that a man may drift into whatever current attracts him, and thereby attain wisdom and wealth, as hopelessly naive. And so it mote be, to a "Realist." However, this message—that acceptance, gentleness, and wonderfully childlike impracticality are useful traits to develop—is one that I have managed to read into both the paradoxes of Tzon (Zen) and the parables of the Christ. I know: how wonderfully watery.
The point is that, regardless of our individual reactions to these two particularly reassuring and omnipresent Ur-myths, their messages will tend to appeal to the fretful masses right now simply because they serve as pacifying reminders that everything is "purposeful" and "good," even (horrors!) the flux of an Aeon procession. I personally find it exceedingly difficult to recall that the Great Work is not only assured of culmination, but that it has always culminated, with uniform ubiquity, throughout all dimensions, perceptions and conceptions, unto the infinite void of union and love, yea verily, the infinite void of union and love, AUGMN.
Okay—proselytizing for a moment, but I'm back now, thanks. Anyway, I personally choose to empathize with what I perceive to be a global desire (Lust, actually) for "the joy of dissolution," or, profanely, "reunion with God." Both The Lion King and Forrest Gump seem intended (if one posseses an active imagination and Will) to remind us that the Father does indeed live in the Son, and that by Not Being There, we may observe IT working through us... Personally, I appreciate the reminder, and I am happy to ally my "self" with the dollar-wielding millions.