Be Prepared (song)
|Song by Jeremy Irons with Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin and Jim Cummings from the album The Lion King|
|Writer||Tim Rice, Elton John|
"Be Prepared" is a song from the 1994 Disney animated film and 1997 Broadway musical The Lion King. The song was composed by Tim Rice (lyrics) and Elton John (music) and originally performed by Jeremy Irons, Cheech Marin, Jim Cummings (who took over after Irons's voice gave out), and Whoopi Goldberg in the film and by John Vickery, Kevin Cahoon, Stanley Wayne Mathis, and Tracy Nicole Chapman in the original Broadway cast for the musical.
The Lion King
The song is performed as a musical number by Scar. Lusting for the position as king of the Pride Lands, a title held by his envied older brother Mufasa, he constantly spends time devising evil schemes that could potentially earn the throne for him with the assistance of his hyena minions, Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed. In it, Scar is inspired to develop a plot in which he will arrange for both Mufasa and his nephew Simba to be murdered and notifies his spotted hyenas about it through song, earning a large army of minions for himself through his pledge to spare the hungry animals from starvation if they provide him with assistance.
Originally, the song (first called "Thanks to Me") was about Scar introducing the hyenas to the lionesses after he pronounced himself king and when the lionesses opposed him. This idea was scrapped in favor of the song in the film, later called "Be Prepared". A reprise of the song after Mufasa's death was also cut from the film, but is featured in the musical version.
In the beginning of the second verse, an army of hyenas is shown goose-stepping in front of Scar, who is perched on an overlooking cliff in resemblance of Adolf Hitler with countless beams of light pointing straight-up (resembling the Cathedral of light featured in many of the Nuremberg Rallies). Shadows cast onto the cliff evoke for a brief second monumental columns. This is modeled after footage from the Nazi propaganda movie Triumph of the Will.
Though Jeremy Irons is credited for performing the lead vocals on the song, at the 2012 Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo Jim Cummings, who also played Ed, stated that he sang most of the song, and that Irons only did some of the talking.
On the original soundtrack recording, Scar opens the song with a soliloquy:
|“||I never thought hyenas essential. They're crude and unspeakably plain. But maybe they've a glimmer of potential if allied to my vision and brain.||”|
In the film, this is cut and the song begins immediately. This was due to a plot adjustment. The soliloquy had Scar considering using the hyenas for his plot, but in the final version of the story he had already used the hyenas in his plans before the song.
During production of the film, there was originally supposed to be a reprise of the song which takes place after Scar has assumed power over the Pride Lands and is trying to assert his dominance over the lion population. He is given the idea by Zazu to find a mate, as that will give him cubs, and in his own words, "eternity". He starts to flirt with Nala, who refuses his advances and is therefore banished by Scar. He then unleashes the hyenas upon the Pride Lands as his "executive staff".
The reprise was ultimately removed from the film. However, a similarly themed song entitled "The Madness of King Scar" was included in the Broadway musical version of the film.
The Lion King 1½
In DisneyToon's 2004 direct-to-video film The Lion King 1½, the music from the beginning of the song is briefly heard as Timon and Pumbaa tour Scar's lair as a possible new home, commenting on how it is quiet, secluded and with no uninvited visitors. The shadows of the goose-stepping hyena army are then seen marching in front of them, though they haven't started singing yet. Timon and Pumbaa stare at them for a few seconds, and remark that the hyenas "ain't the traveling company of Riverdance." They then riverdance out of the scene.
The Lion King musical
Like the original soundtrack recording, Scar begins the song with a brief soliloquy. The song is similar to its film counterpart in most respects, including the goose stepping hyenas, but there is a dance number performed by the hyena ensemble halfway through. Scar later sings a brief reprise while declaring himself king at Mufasa's funeral in which he introduces the hyenas as his direct and privileged minions (the aforementioned deleted reprise from the film). However, the Broadway reprise was not featured in the soundtrack, and is instead replaced with a sinister chord at the end of the song "Rafiki Mourns". In other soundtracks from different productions, the song is not represented at all.
Festival of The Lion King
In Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom's Festival of the Lion King, Kiume sings the song while the theater takes on a darker tone with the male dancers carrying spears and shields, while the female dancers dance with streamers. After Kiume sings the first verse, the solo hyena performer does a tribal dance with a fire torch. In the finale, when the snippet of "Be Prepared" is sung, the hyena comes back out but dances with blades.