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.

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Pitter Pater

September 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

Whether the Disney film is of its own creation or an adaptation of a classic fairy tale the mother is never has a long-lasting presence. Generally the mother’s death acts as a catalyst for the protagonist to realize their “destiny” and reach maturity. Without the nurturing mother the once vulnerable character must rise to the occasion and take charge. Notice in Bambi immediately following the dark winter scene of his mother’s death is a scene of spring renewal in which Bambi is much more mature?

Mom’s are generally absent figures in Disney films but a particularly interesting aspect of Bambi was the absence of his father. While Disney was a brilliant mind, revolutionary thinker and an innovator he was never very progressive when dealing with gender roles. Bambi’s father is aloof but he acts as a source of strength and leadership that Bambi’s sweet and weak mother just provide. In his films, the mother is the caretaker and nurturer but the father is the wise one with all the important answers. Throughout the film I noticed how Thumper’s father had an absentee role. His mother would frequently say to him “Thumper, what did your father say?” Although his mother was his caretaker and his father was never featured the viewer was always reminded of the father’s position of authority and the importance of paternal influence and guidance in shaping a young boy (or girl).

When Bambi is born his father watches over from a very distance mountain ledge but is never actually involved. Throughout the story his father acts as a far-away guardian. On the meadow when Bambi’s father walks by, he briefly acknowledges Bambi by making eye contact and pausing  (father of the year? I think so). He later acts as guardian to all his “people” by warning them of Man’s dangerous and unwanted presence in their peaceful home. Once Bambi’s mother is taken from him at the hands of Man, his father begins to play a more active role. He appears to Bambi in the thicket and says to him, “ your mother can’t be with you anymore”. The Great Prince is a very wise character and although he does not provide the attentive care that a young fawn would get from their mother, he does watch over his son and do his best to protect him. One must understand that The Great Prince has lived so long because of his solitude. He has been careful and remained on his own in order to stay alive. While such an absentee role is not acceptable to Man in nature it’s just the way things go. Although the presence of talking animals takes away a bit of the film’s accuracy, deer are uniparental and therefore fawns are cared for by the mother and the mother alone.

The film does a good job of creating a relationship between Bambi and his father while respecting the fact that bucks aren’t active in raising their young. At the end of the film, Bambi fills his father’s shoes as Great Prince of the Forest and watches over Feline and his twin fawns. This establishes some attachment but acknowledges that reality of the wilderness and the role of the buck in its family unit.

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