Why Bambi isn’t for kids
Lucy Knight claims “Walt Disney made Bambi a cutesy schmaltzfest for kids” (Gunned down and burned by the Nazis: the shocking true story of Bambi, 21 March), perpetuating the misconception that early Disney productions were made for children. The idea of a separate children’s audience didn’t exist in 1942, when Disney’s Bambi appeared and – like its predecessors Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio and Dumbo – terrified many youngsters accompanying their parents. Beatrice Ruben and I interviewed some of these for our BBC radio programme Where Were You When Bambi’s Mother Was Shot? in 2002 (repeated in 2022), confirming that the film was genuinely traumatic when seen on a cinema screen in darkness. Certainly Disney modified its source material for all the early features, but the artistry and impact of these shouldn’t be forgotten in an era when they’re rarely seen as cinema features, and Disney has indeed become a byword for cutesy schmaltz.
Prof Ian Christie
Birkbeck, University of London
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