The feature film Serengeti Shall Not Die, released June 25, 1959, was written, produced, directed and narrated by German producer Bernhard Grzimek. It won an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Award for Best Documentary Feature – 1959. When I was still a kid growing up in Dar es salaam — many years after its release — I remember seeing this movie with my parents at the Drive In Cinema. I will remember that experience for the rest of my life. It was amazing. This article, through the lens of award winning cinematography, will discuss the Serengeti; how its beauty has inspired the movie industry; and how you too can experience its incredibly vast treeless plains — 30,000 square kilometers of it!
The Lion King, a 1994 animated feature film from Walt Disney and its subsequent theatrical production, were inspired by the Serengeti. The Lion King, a musical, garnered two Academy Awards and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture. Elton John composed the songs and Tim Rice was lyricist with an original score by Hans Zimmer. This movie grossed over eight hundred million dollars worldwide and until 2003, it was the most successful animated feature film. To date, it remains the sixth highest grossing animated film and the highest grossing hand-drawn animated feature film. Disney didn’t stop there. They later produced a sequel, The Lion King II and Simba’s Pride (1998); and a prequel/parallel, The Lion King 1½ (2004).
The fact that the movie’s inspiration came from the Serengeti speaks volumes. And to think that its ecosystem, wildlife and national park have not only inspired the movie industry, they’ve inspired, bedazzled and attracted many a tourist from all over the world, says a lot about this wondrous safari destination. Serengeti has well and truly earned its rightful place as one of the ten natural travel wonders of the world. It offers seemingly endless plains; the world famous circular migration of over two million mammal across Tanzania and Kenya; and a guaranteed front row view of an action packed tapestry of diverse habitats ranging from riverine forests, swamps, kopjes, grasslands and woodlands; and not to mention Wildebeests, gazelles, zebras, buffalos, giraffe, lion, leopard and cheetah to name but a few. To borrow the title of the movie that brought Serengeti to the world, I say, Serengeti shall not die!
In Summary: A Hollywood movie studio, inspired by the Serengeti, brought us blockbuster animated movie The Lion King. The movie grossed in excess of eight hundred million dollars around the world. A German producer, back in 1959, brought Serengeti Shall Not Die to cinemagoers around the world and won an Academy Award for best feature film that year. Tanzania’s Serengeti, to have attracted the attention of movie producers, and to have been appreciated and embraced by people around the world says a lot about what it (Serengeti) has to offer the world in terms of its ecosystem, wildlife and national park. To plan a trip to the Serengeti to see for yourself where the inspiration for all these incredibly successful movies came from, consult your tour operator and please do make sure that you book your safari holiday early.