What is Appropriate?

December 5, 2010 § 1 Comment

As we were watching “March of the Penguins”, I  kept wondering how I would have reacted to the movie as a child. I remember when the film came out reading articles and hearing conversations about whether or not it was suitable for little kids. Obviously it is a pretty G movie but the scene with the gull was pretty upsetting. The entire classroom of 17 and 18 year olds was cringing and had we been 10 years younger there very well could have been tears. This got me to thinking about what is appropriate for children. I know that this was a source of controversy for “The Lion King” and “Bambi”. I came to the conclusion that the loss of a parent or a home or predation in wildlife is indeed acceptable for children to see and actually important for them to understand.

One movie that we watched this year that I however do not think is appropriate for children is “Fantasia”. When I was a little girl “Fantasia” scared me  shitless. It does not teach children to fear rational things such as death but completely insane things like Satan and vindictive Olympians. As a child I would experience an odd combination of fear and boredom during “Fantasia”. It was too creepy for me to enjoy! When I re-watched it this year it was a bit like what I would imagine an acid trip to be like. Now I recognize that the film has some very admirable qualities. It teaches children to appreciate classical music, science and mythology but it is legitimately frightening and I think I will wait until my children a bit older that I was to let them see it. 

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Animals in the Wild

October 11, 2010 § 5 Comments

Although Call of the Wild isn’t a Disney Film, there are many similarities with Disney films such as the Lion King and Bambi. To begin, all of these stories involve an animal and follow this animal throughout their lives. They all begin when the animal is just a baby and end at the end of the animal’s journey to adulthood. They also are all constantly in nature. In both of the Disney movies, there are no people shown at all, but in all three they are predominantly in the wild. Even though there are humans in Call of the Wild, there aren’t in a civilized developed environment and instead are in the animal’s habit.

 

Even though I don’t believe that there is one moment in which an individual “comes of age”, in all three of these stories there is a distinct turning point. In Bambi, when he fends off another male deer to save the woman he loves, he finally matures and becomes the man that he needed to be. In Lion King, Simba sees his father in the sky and is told to return to Pride Rock, which is when he realizes his fate and responsibility to save his people. In Call of the Wild, Buck sees his best friend dead and it triggered him to become savage and a killer, which he continues for the rest of the book. Each of these moments change the course of their respective stories and change the main characters.

 

In all of these stories, the main characters must attack another animal to survive and show their worth. In Bambi he fights the other deer, in Lion King Simba must fight Scar to save his people and in Call of the Wild, Buck must fight off the attacking wolves to show that he can fight with them. Along with the moments mentioned earlier, these are all pivotal turning points in the story and help them all survive.

 

Circle of Life

October 11, 2010 § 5 Comments

Bambi, The Lion King and Call of the Wild share many similarities. In each story there is a strong natural order and a social hierarchy in which one species dominates over another. Each protagonist also has a destiny to fulfill and inner strength that must be recognized. In Bambi, the title character had to mature in order to fill his father’s shoes as Great Prince of the forrest, Simba had to take charge and bring order back to his kingdom, and Buck must recognize the beast within. Another similarities between the three stories was the fact that all of the title characters underwent a transformation and came of age. For me the most striking similarity was a theme of respecting nature and its creatures.

Both of my parents are strict vegetarians. Despite my mother’s own refusal to eat meat she always left the decision up to me. I have never had meat in my life, not one bite (except that one time with my nanny at the grocery store but I spit it out) but my mom actually encouraged it. I of course couldn’t bear the thought of eating a dead animal and I think that these three stories actually led me to remain a vegetarian.

In Bambi, cute, lovable animals are destroyed for sport. As a little girl Bambi made me feverntly opposed to hunting and taught me to respect the natural world.

The Lion King also has some serious animal rights themes. The Lion King reinforced the respect for nature that Bambi introduced me to. It reminded me that just because you are “superior” to something does not mean that you should disrespect it just because you can. All links of the food chain are to be respected as they are all crucial aspects of the circle of life. It’s interesting that Simba ends up living off of bugs. All animals in The Lion King are personified but since the bugs weren’t it’s almost like Simba was living a off of a vegetarian diet.

In Call of the Wild, Buck is tormented by man. The first time I read Call of the Wild I became obsessed with dogs. I would wear those really ugly dog shirts with no intention of being ironic  and volunteered at animal shelters with my friend. I would never eat a dog and knew that I could never eat a pig either.

Bambi, Call of the Wild, and The Lion King are kind of like PETA’s wet dream.  Man is a source of corruption and a force of evil that exploits and abuses the natural world. Each story personified animals in such a way that they were more than cute they were human. These stories led me to respect nature and teach all children to do the same. 

Bambi: One of PETA’s Greatest Assets

September 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

Upon comparing my personal thoughts on Bambi with those of a scholarly article titled The Trouble with Bambi: Walt Disney’s Bambi and the American Vision of Nature by Ralph H. Lutts, I’ve found that, although most of our views are in agreement, there are a select few issues from the film at which our opinions split.  I believe that Lutts perceives Bambi to be offering us a naive, yet ultimately influential view into nature: though we do not see the true, primordial mannerisms of the wild, we are motivated into not only criticizing our past actions towards nature but also protecting and guarding the flawless, peaceful fantasy of nature that the film portrays and we love.

Lutts begins by summarizing the plot of Bambi and immediately starts his analysis of the film by shedding light upon the death of Bambi’s mother.  He discusses parents’ sensitive and deeply emotional reactions to  his mother’s death in the film.  Eventually, he uses this topic to transition to the implied anti-hunting message underlying the entire film.  Lutts continues, describing the large reaction to the film’s portrayal of hunters and claiming that Bambi was repeatedly used by many almost “animal rights activists” to dismember and disparage the sport of hunting deer.   Numerous references were made to the mother’s death, and the topic of the “Bambi Syndrome,” or sympathetic, nurturing feelings for deer” was also introduced.

The article then begins to discuss the display of nature in the film.  It is here that I also found that Lutts shares a common opinion with me about the role of Bambi’s father in the film.  As we discussed in class, Bambi’s mother is always there to nurture him, yet Bambi’s father is almost nonexistent in the film.  Lutts, like me, believes that the father has the role of a “watchful protector” who only comes along once in a while to help Bambi mature and become a full-grown and independent adult deer.  The author continues after discussing the artistic portrayal of fawns and deer in the film, claiming that the entire film is a “web of distortion” that unrealistically presents nature to audiences.  Gone are the predators of the forest and the kill or be killed mannerisms of nature.  Disney’s focus on providing animals in nature with a “cute” image has toned down the brutal, almost merciless truth of the wild: many living things must die to prolong the lives of other living things.  Lutts also acknowledges  the negative connotation that Bambi places on humans’ influence on nature.  He perceives Bambi to be a metaphorical microscope that only shows humans as catalysts for animals’ deaths in nature.

Ultimately, I agree with almost everything he says about the film, but the only two slight differences in our opinions is that I feel that Bambi does not send any anti-hunting message or imply that we should protect and guard nature to the best of our ability.  Instead, I feel that Disney only used humans as a scapegoat.  Disney loved nature, and I personally suspect that he deliberately only wanted to show humans as responsible for all the troubles that animals in nature must endure to avoid the darker truths of the wilderness.  I also feel that the film influences us to, instead of taking up a protector’s role, only respect and cherish nature’s role on this planet and appreciate its gifts bestowed upon us,.

Father Figures?

September 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

Throughout the movie Bambi, father figures played a distant role. For the most part, they didnt interact with the rest of the characters, they were just admired from a distance. I thought the role of Bambi’s dad was particularly interesting. Although he was never there during Bambi’s day to day life, he always knew when Bambi was in trouble and needed help. Rather than being a nurturer, he was only a protector. It is fascinating that rather than taking an active role in his sons life, he prefered to watch over him in secret.

I also found Bambi’s dads personality interesting. Unlike the rest of the forrest animals who were oozing with personality, the prince of the forrest showed no emotion. When talking, he never moved or changed his cold facial expression. I felt that this made him less personable and harder to relate to for children. Its interesting that Disney chose to display the most important father figure in the movie as hard to relate to and inaccessible because it is a reflection of fathers of the era. Rather than having a dominant role in their childs life, fathers during the 40s tended to act only as an authority figure. Disney juxtaposed the the role of mothers vs fathers in this film in order to suggest something deeper about gender expectations during the era. As clearly shown by not only Bambi’s mother, but also the other mothers in the film, the role of women is to raise and nurture their children until they can fend for themselves. Fathers, however, are not required to be an active part of their offsprings lives, and act as role models for their sons.

The Protector

September 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

Similar to THE ORCA and THE MALTESE FALCON, I found the role of the fathers in Bambi to be very interesting. Throughout the movie, fathers are very rarely seen. To start the movie, we see the birth of Bambi, but his father is nowhere to be found. The other animals mention that Bambi is the “son of the prince”, but until later, we don’t actually know who this prince is. Then, the movie shows a flash of a lone deer on the top of a hill, overlooking the forest. As it turns out, this deer is the prince, or Bambi’s father. He never interacts with his son until it is vital for his survival. That is when I really understood the father’s roll. His job was to look out for his son and protect him. Although that didn’t mean he had to always be around him, he was always overlooking the forest because he is the protector. Even though his father doesn’t directly influence Bambi, because he is never around, he clearly makes an impact on him because Bambi turns out just like his father. From a fight with another male deer and the survival of hunters, he learns to protect those who he cares about and to look out for them. The story finally comes full circle has Bambi stands up on the top of the hill with his father as they look over the forest together during the birth of Bambi’s two kids. Walt Disney depicts a father who doesn’t have to care for his child daily, like the mother, but is always there looking out for him and protecting him.

Nature in Bambi, but not in man?

September 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

One might ask ones self, “What is the role of nature in the animal’s lives, in the Disney movie Bambi?” (Or rather only our class would be asked that). To find the answer we have to dive deep into the movie. Nature seems to provide for animals, and is always on the animals side. We see this when we look at the cave that Bambi and his mother live in, and we see sticks around the corners of the screen, providing a sort of protective circle around the two. Or when we look at the scene with the leaves, and music being made from the drops of rain on the leaves, we can see that nature creates happiness for them (in that scene in the form of music).

On the other hand we have man, standing against everything that nature is. We never actually get to see their faces, showing that they are as far from nature as possible. They represent everything that nature is not, even worse than the evil dogs, who are still able to be seen on the screen. We then see them destroy nature by causing the wildfire. That is their final act of hatred against nature, and the final light we see man cast in before the end of the movie.

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