The African Lion is a Technicolor documentary film released in 1955 and directed by James Algar. The documentary was a part of Walt Disney’s True-Life Adventure series. The film follows the life of a lion over a period of 30-months in Kenya, Tanganyika, and Uganda. It focuses on the life of the lion and how it survives in the complexity of the ecosystem. The film was such a hit that it received the Silver Bear award at the 6th Berlin International Film Festival.
The 1950s era did not witness many documentaries. When the news broke that Walt Disney is coming up with a Technicolor documentary film, everyone had their eyes on it. Upon its release, Bosley of The New York Times wrote that the documentary did justice to Kenya by exploring and exposing the unknown areas.
Since Kenya merely received any visitors at the time and wasn’t a developed tourist destination, it was hard to imagine the life existing there. However, The African Lion captured almost every aspect of a lion’s life during a 30-month period. From catching its prey to looking after its cubs, the documentary was as close to reality as possible.
In addition to that, critics also stated that the documentary managed to capture some of the best footage of Africa’s wildlife.
Prior to The African Lion, Walt Disney was known for producing hit animated films. However, this documentary proved that Disney was much more than just that and possessed the ability to create several different types of films at the same time.
This is reflected by the fact that almost the entire 50s era was occupied by animated films. But Disney with The African Lion took the next step and brought Kenya as close as possible especially when it was pretty much a hidden treasure waiting to be explored and discovered.