Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The darkness of Disney 6: The death of Bambi's mother

Like Disney's villains, the death of Bambi's mother (from the feature film Bambi, 1942) is almost TOO EASY to list as an example of the darkness evident in Disney animated films. Disney has never been one to shy away from confronting audiences with death. Not only have plenty of characters (especially villains) died in Disney's traditional animated films, Disney has also teased audiences plenty of times by making them THINK a character was dead when he/she really wasn't (as with Trusty in Lady & The Tramp, or Baloo in The Jungle Book).

No other death in a Disney film (with the possible exception of Old Yeller) has had a greater impact on audiences than that of Bambi's mother. The death itself isn't actually shown in the film, and yet it's responsible for turning many people into animal rights supporters (including Paul McCartney, who's admitted to being influenced by the film). It remains one of the most famous, and saddest, death scenes in cinema history.

Many people have a personal story associated with the death of Bambi's mother, and yours truly is no exception. I first saw the film as a very young child, since my dad insisted on taking me to every Disney film that was released in the theater. I don't really remember the first time I saw it, and it was a good twenty years before I saw it again -- and I will NEVER forget the time I saw it again. Neither will Mr. Sea.

My birthday happens to be New Year's Eve. Most people seem to think that must be a fabulous time to have a birthday: "Think of the parties!" Well, hate to disappoint everyone, but having one's birthday on that particular holiday is anything but a party. First of all, the birthday party -- even when you're turning 21 years old -- never lives up to the hype. Second of all, almost everyone always has PLANS on New Year's Eve. This is what contributed to the so-called "Bambi" birthday.

It was my 25th birthday, and I was house-sitting for my mom, who was out of town. Mr. Sea and I weren't married at the time, but we'd been dating for about eight months -- and he had to WORK until just after midnight that night. And all of my other friends and relatives were either working or out of town. Not that I was totally forgotten, mind you. My friends and family left me all alone in my mom's house with TWO birthday cakes, a huge stack of Disney movies (my birthday presents), and two bottles of Moet & Chandon White Star. Mr. Sea promised to come to the house immediately after being let off work. In the meantime, I was on my own, with plenty of movies, cake, and booze.

Two Disney movies and a bottle of champagne later -- and just before midnight -- I popped Bambi into Mom's VCR. BIG mistake. Halfway through the movie, someone knocked on the front door. It was Mr. Sea, finally off work for New Year's. And the poor man was greeted at the door by a VERY drunk, VERY depressed girlfriend who flung herself on him, sobbing, "THEY J-J-J-J-JUST KILLED BAMBI'S Mah-Mah-Mah-Mah-MOMMY! WAAAAAAAAHHH!!!"

My family and friends haven't left me alone on New Year's Eve since.


MetFanMac said...

I was wondering was taking you so long to reach this particular batch of Nightmare Fuel...

Great anecdote; I'm probably a horrible person for laughing so much at it :)

SallyP said...

The champagne and the cake sound fun, but not the part about Bambi's mother.

Yes...I cried too. EVERYone cries.

Anonymous said...

No list of Disney darkness would be complete without the short Disney film of The Little Match Girl. It is a small work of art--but don't watch it without a box of Kleenex at hand. And definitely don't watch it on New Year's Eve. If you think the death of Bambi's mom was sad...

I think the short was meant to be part of the second "Fantasia". Interesting story behind it, too. Check it out on You Tube.

Enjoying this series!

Sea-of-Green said...

Disney has always been too darned good at making people bawl their heads off. I always like to say that I don't cry easily -- but Disney has made me do it once too often, darnit.

Oh, yes, I've seen Little Match Girl. And YES I bawled my head off. Darnit.

Saranga said...

oh poor sea! Although I'm sorry to say your anecdote did make me giggle.

I didn't see Bambi until I was an adult. And not really a Disney fan. This meant I a) didn't much care for the movie, and b) didn't cry at his mother's death.
This much mean I have no soul.