In another edition of cool things that changed in beloved Disney films, let’s talk about The Lion King. Now you should know that this film is my favourite Disney animated feature, and Scar is by far my favourite Disney villain. The love and devotion I have for this film go all the way back to my childhood, and I am not exaggerating when I say this film shaped a lot of who I am today. To me, discussing what this film could have been is like discussing the trajectory of my very destiny (ok, maybe not that dramatic but still…). Getting down to business, the deleted scene I am referring to, is when Scar tries (and fails miserably) to make Simba’s love interest Nala his queen. In the original script, what sent Nala out of the Pride Lands and towards Simba was Scar banishing her when she refused his advances. The scene in which this happens also features an alternate take on how the hyenas were revealed to be working for Scar. Here’s the scene in question:
After being cut, the scene was split into two, and eventually became the short coronation scene (in which Scar triumphantly ends years of hyena/lion segregation), and the coconuts scene (in which Scar shows off his impressive singing skills). While those two scenes are great (with the coconuts scene being one of my favourites in the whole film), I’m not sure if they would have left as much of an impact as the one they cut would, but perhaps that was for the better.
In the deleted scene, Scar is left alone with his advisor Zazu lamenting the fact that he is king yet unloved. Eventually he asks Zazu what Mufasa had that he didn’t, and Zazu lists a number of things ending with the fact that he has no queen, which sends Scar into an excited frenzy about the prospect of creating a line of descendants. At that point, Nala enters the scene (“you’re timing couldn’t be more perfect”). What follows could best be described as sexual harassment, as Scar comes on to her super aggressively, gets slapped for his trouble, and his reaction is to tell her she has to leave forever if she won’t be his queen (which he enforces by having his hyenas chase her out). Not only was this incredibly creepy (especially when you consider the fact that she must be less than half his age), but it was also a little too dark in the wrong kind of way. The darkness of murder was essential for a movie about the circle of life, but the darkness of sexual harassment just didn’t quite fit.
What did work about this scene though? I’d say it gave us a lot more insight into Scar’s mentality about what it meant to be king. You see him with all this power for the first time in his life, and he relishes the hell out of it. This is the most hedonistic version of Scar we see, and it’s interesting how much worse he became with power. Seeing an already shady guy get totally corrupted is pretty fun to watch. The scene also paints a much more severe picture of events. It’s like, this is how bad things have gotten, and the level of narcissism Scar has here makes that point stronger. Finally, the part where Scar reveals the hyenas as his “executive staff” and has them chase Nala out is him at his most threatening, and it’s sad that we don’t get to see him wield that kind of power in the final film.
In the end however, I’m glad we got the version we did for a couple of reasons. Scar’s lust for Nala is incredibly jarring and would have taken focus away from what he is at his core: A lion who refuses to leave the darkness of his brother’s shadow. We don’t need to add sexual predator to the list, because I am certain that is what the lasting impression of him would have been. Secondly, the coconut scene was far more effective at mixing seriousness and humour into the film. Scar’s outburst at the mere mention of Mufasa’s name says so much with so little. Meanwhile, the deleted scene is very humorous at first and then becomes absurdly dark by the end which just does not flow as well. Finally, “It’s the lioness’ job to do the hunting” is one of the greatest lines in the movie due to the delivery alone and is exactly what I’ve been saying for years when I get saddled with chores I absolutely do not want.
In the end, it’s a matter of “how do you want to remember Scar”? And the second I asked that question it became immediately clear that the final version’s scenes were more appropriate. In the end, the Scar we got is someone I can take a lot more seriously than the Scar that tried to hit on Nala, even if he is a lot more frightening in a way. And besides, for those that do prefer lusty Scar, there’s always the Broadway version where Scar does go for Nala (and it happens to fit a lot better in that context).
Quote of the day:
“Now where were we? Ah yes, abject humiliation!“
– Jafar, Aladdin.