Live action Bambi it is not yet completed and is already causing discussion, like its predecessors, at least judging by what everyone hears and in most search engines. The news of the day is that one of the most famous scenes in the history of animation – the death of Bambi’s mother – should be eliminated in order to create a product more relevant to today’s childhood. But is this really true or is it an exaggeration in the press? The answer is a little more complicated and much more interesting than it might seem at first glance.
An animated film that made history
Bambi may not have a death scene for the main character’s mother. It says “could” because nothing is really certain, as this news comes from former screenwriter Lindsay Anderson Beer. Until recently, she was responsible for developing a new live-action script for Disney’s fifth animated classic, one of the most legendary and important animated films of all time, selected for preservation by the Library of Congress. Released in 1942, David Hand’s Bambi stunned audiences and critics not only with its extraordinary aesthetic visualization, its unprecedented depiction of the animal kingdom, but also with its ability to tackle complex, dramatic themes with unique boldness. . The famous scene of the death of Bambi’s mother at the hands of a hunter has been called a conceptual masterpiece for decades, not only because the killer has become an invisible being and therefore almost looks like a horror monster. No, sir, children all over the world openly witnessed the death of a parent, creating a kind of trauma that remained in the collective memory for decades, from generation to generation. Beer said she believes the scene caused the film to become almost hidden over time, and she has developed guidelines that she hopes will be followed to make Live Action more appealing to modern audiences. The expression “Kid Friendly” has been used, but it is the concept that we have on the other side of the ocean of that era, and how to manage its cultural and entertainment products, that matters most.
Problem of impossible transversal formula
Live Action has been one of Disney’s most popular strategies in recent years, but the reality is that it hasn’t been as successful as we thought. This was the last one Mermaid, which arrived in the wake of huge controversy due to major changes from the 1989 original, did not go as planned. Good returns in several Western countries, but ultimately a commercial fiasco due to lack of interest, if not hostility, from the international public. They almost never turned out to be particularly innovative or necessary operations, but rather a very clever and at the same time lazy move in an attempt to monetize the effect of nostalgia. The problem is that you cannot seduce the old audience of the past and at the same time please the new one. Excessive changes do not take into account too different metrics, and in the long run, the lack of creativity led to Disney’s products being divisive and unprofitable. The main audience that Disney is trying to attract to movie theaters or TV today is obviously families. Of course, it is true that today’s children are different from yesterday’s, but this does not mean that they are different in everything or that they cannot be treated with respect and responsibility. Of course, demonstrating paternalism and dictatorial defense, an obsession with the idea of trauma, does not make much sense. The point is that the word trauma is used inappropriately when talking about Bambi and about this scene, perhaps, it would be more correct to talk about a moment of growth, awareness. We all knew them from films, cartoons or comics. This scene in Bambi he made it clear that pain, evil, disappointment or sadness are elements that are part of the life of each of us, the world itself, and we must accept it.
A vision of childhood that is very different from the past
For several years, since children’s products, especially those under the Disney and Pixar brands, became pedagogical building blocks (often without villains), this creative curriculum has been talked about as connected to the vision of childhood that has taken hold in the United States in recent decades. The division between the world of childhood and the world of adults is as clear as it is radical; this concerns all aspects of life and therefore also cultural products. Age transitions in the United States are much more strict and determine access or lack of access to alcohol, rights, money, food, including movies and TV shows. Elsewhere (and we Italians are no exception) this division between the two worlds is much less visible in everyday life, or at least more subtle. The American system of age restrictions in the film market itself is incredibly stricter than ours, and its complexity is gradually increasing. The natural consequence was to place increasingly strict educational responsibilities on the entertainment industry, which in a short time often became a shield used inappropriately. Today’s young parents are those who once grew up with the moves of Ken Shiro, the Demon Fantasy, Frollo’s sadism, and also with excellent deaths. To Bambi’s death we could add the death of Littlefoot’s mother, Mufasa or Sixta. Have we grown up badly? No. And say this about films like Uplike Oceania or Big Hero 6, there was no such fear. This censorship is then confronted with childhood’s growing and now uncontrolled access to mobile devices, to that giant ocean that is the Internet and the world of video games, where it is much worse or much stronger than the death seen in Bambi. But then again, we certainly don’t find that American society today has some coherence problems.