Why would we want the trauma to be more realistic?
Disney has just announced plans to remake another one of their animated classics as a live-action feature, and it has the potential to be the worst one yet.As with The Lion King and The Jungle Book, Bambi's cast of characters is made up entirely of animals, so it's bound to present the same problem of unsettling CGI mouths. But unlike those movies, the original Bambi came out in 1942. It's part of Disney's older catalogue of films with forgettable soundtracks and scattered, poorly-paced plots. The animation was innovative for its time, but at this point these older Disney films remain popular primarily through the power of nostalgia and passed along to children when they're too young to know better.
No doubt half the people reading this are gasping at the audacity of these claims and recalling Bambi's iconic scenes—the introduction of Thumper and Flower, the terrifying forest fire, and of course the unforgettable death of Bambi's mother. While these scenes are certainly memorable, I doubt anyone protesting could flesh out an outline of Bambi's "story"—to the extent that it has one. Bambi is happy with his mother. Bambi's mother dies because humans are terrible. Bambi meets other animals who help him grow up. The forest burns because humans are terrible. Bambi meets another deer. The end? Happily ever after?
While Bambi has the potential to deliver a potent ecological message, it would need some extensive rewrites to get it ready for adaptation. Maybe that means it will be better than the other remakes—assuming Disney will do a good job with the process. Will they add some songs to try to make it a musical? That might add some interest, but they will certainly have to keep those handful of iconic scenes for it to remain a Bambi movie at all. So ask yourself, does anyone—let alone children—want to see those scenes in a live-action world? Do you want to see a realistic baby deer realizing its mother has been killed by hunters, or realistic animals running in horror from a wildfire? Would you take a child to see that? It might make a generation of vegans, but it would also fuel a massive boom in the mental health industry.
Disney has had a string of box office successes with these remakes. If they want to keep it going, they should probably give up on Bambi.
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