Unlike movies like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Hercules, which were watched on an endless loop in my childhood home, I saw Bambi exactly one time. This is because Bambi, as I learned upon that singular viewing, is a deer snuff film.
Bambi debuted in 1942, and was just the fifth animated film released by Disney. At first, you think Bambi is a lovely film about lovely animals playing in a lovely forest, until the movie pulls the rug out from underneath you and has a hunter murder Bambi’s mother with a shotgun. Honestly, I had to look up what happens after that (Bambi falls in love with a girl deer and then the hunters come back!!!!!) because I couldn’t see the TV screen through the flood of tears in my eyes.
I’ve thought a lot about why Bambi is one of the sadder Disney movies, despite many of them featuring the loss of at least one parent. The Lion King is definitely dark, given its Hamlet-esque premise and Mufasa’s murder, but at least the song “The Circle of Life” really drums home the point that things live on even after tragedy. Cinderella loses both parents and her stepmom sucks, but at least she has a really cool godmother to gift her great shoes.
The upcoming film, to be written by Captain Marvel's Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Sierra Burgess Is A Loser screenwriter Lindsey Beer, will use the photo-realistic technology used in the live-action version of The Lion King, which will likely make the death of Bambi’s mom feel all the more unsettling. At least no one thought to give the animals human faces, a la the much-maligned Cats. The last thing I want to see is the expression on Bambi’s mother’s face as she’s dying.
Disney currently has multiple live-action films in the works based on animated movies, including The Little Mermaid, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and Mulan. May they scar us a bit less than Bambi inevitably will.