Movies about a friendship between a child and a dog are many, but a friendship between a girl and a big lion? Based on Joseph Kessel's book, Le lion is a beautiful movie, especially because of its African scenery and wild life. In the mid-fifties in Kenya, John Bullit (Alain Delon), an administrator of Park Royal, lives with his wife Sybil (Ornella Muti) and 10 year-old-daughter Patricia (Anouchka Delon), in the territory of the Masaï people. John Bullit is an ex-hunter, but now he dedicates himself to protect the reserve. Sometimes he has to deal with illegal hunters. There is also a rumor that the Mau Mau war will soon reach that area.
The story begins when Julien Keller (Heino Ferch), a journalist from France, meets Patricia for the first time. Keller is amazed by the strange relationship between Patricia and King, a big lion which she took care when he was a cub. Keller is a friend of Lise, Sybil's friend. Sybil is worried about Patricia and wants her to have a proper education in France. However, for Patricia, the place where she lives now is already a paradise. There is also a young handsome hunter named Oriounga, who wants Patricia to be his first wife. John Bullit says to him that he can only trust his daughter to a man, so to prove it, Oriounga intends to kill King with his lance.
The lion that plays King seems very tame and nice, except in the end when he fights Oriounga. King's death is not 100% John Bullit's fault. I think Patricia will soon understand. Also, why she doesn't tell King to stop attacking Oriounga? She even tells King to kill him.
It's a good idea to cast Ornella Muti and Anouchka Delon as mother and daughter; both have long dark hair and there is some resemblance. José Pinheiro directed this, a contrast to the violent Parole de flic.