Despite what you may think, the world doesn’t always appreciate Disney’s whimsical and magical stories, especially when things get dark. Despite tales of dark themes surrounding iconic and masterful Disney characters like Maleficent, the thought of portraying violence and saddening scenes has led Walt Disney Pictures to a crossroads regarding their live-action remakes.
As Disney moves into the next phase of their planned live-action remake slate, leaving faulty stories like The Little Mermaid (2023), Peter Pan & Wendy (2023), and Pinocchio (2022) in the past, strong feelings and opinions regarding upcoming projects, and their lack of adherence to iconic scenes and attributes set in stone by The Walt Disney Company remains a hot topic.
Sad, Yet Memorable Scenes
Disney is likely the most formidable and successful animation studio in existence. Their ability to weave wonderfully told stories with unique characters, brought to life by innovative techniques, has created a concrete foundation for full-length animation and opened the door to giving our favorite 2D animated stories the live-action treatment.
Part of this creative storytelling process means remaining true to actual facts about our favorite characters. In other words, if Disney needs a hero, they often need a catalytic moment to prop that character up to perform at their best. Often, these nexus moments come at the sad demise of a loved one.
Bambi (1942), which is now on deck for the Disney live-action treatment, and The Lion King (1994) are two prime examples of how Disney’s story needed an instrumental moment of death or misfortune to set a character arc into action.
As sad as these scenes are, typically, they become some of the most memorable in Dinsey’s catalog. Often, although they deal with death, abandonment, and other extreme misfortunes, they are definitively necessary to engage the audience’s emotions and buy-in to the film.
Disney Live-Action Continues on These Sad Stories
Of late, Disney has moved away from its original content. Over the years, The Walt Disney Company has chosen to employ the services of once-proven characters and stories by bringing them to life via live-action.
These decisions remain unpopular with many, especially as it seems Disney has zero reserves when it comes to changing familiar aspects of characters such as Ariel from The Little Mermaid (2023).
Although the company has found some past success with familiar stories, such as a live-action retelling of The Jungle Book (2016) directed by Jon Favreau, Angelina Jolie and her amazing performance of Maleficent (2014), and Christopher Robin (2018), ultimately the strategy remains distasteful to many of Disney’s diehard fans.
Each of these stories, and others like the Disney live-action The Lion King film that swept the nation in 2019, stick intrinsically to the story that made them successful in the first place, or they add to the lore of beloved characters.
The Lion King still saw Mufasa die at the hands of his brother, while The Jungle Book still saw the abandonment of a child left to be raised by beasts. Maleficent didn’t shy away from the grim either, as many who’ve seen the film will recall the brutal removal of her wings.
Change Isn’t Easy, Nor Necessary for Disney Live-Action Projects
While some Disney live-action films boast success, the days of The Jungle Book, retellings of adventure by Peter Pan, and the return of popular live-action characters like Mary Poppins haven’t been enough to keep Disney’s most recent live-action remakes alive.
The biggest flop of late would arguably be The Little Mermaid, which swam into theatres over the summer to much confusion as African-American actress Halle Bailey was cast to play the red-haired, white mermaid that most remember from the 1989 film.
It didn’t take long for more changes to come to light as star Rachel Zegler was brought on board to bring one the most cherished Disney stories to life in an upcoming live-action project, Snow White.
Zegler, who looks nothing like Disney’s original princess on the outside, made matters worse as she vocalized her plans to fuse her feminist ideals to the beloved character created by Walt Disney in interviews with The Hollywood Reporter and other news outlets, as well as on social media.
Despite its solidified place as a foundational piece of Disney history, it quickly became apparent to fans that Snow White was doomed from the start, as Zelger loudly expressed to Vanity Fair that her version of the classic princess would “become the leader she knows she can be and the leader that her late father told her that she could be if she were fearless, fair, brave, and true. People are making these jokes about ours being the PC Snow White, where it’s like, yeah, it is — because it needed.”
New Live-Action Films Mean New Changes
Following her roasting after interviews with The Hollywood Reporter and Vanity Fair, Ziegler has become an extremely unpopular candidate to take on the Disney live-action role of Snow White. However, despite the significance of the character in Disney’s history and public outcry, Disney plans to continue moving forward.
In fact, Disney plans to move forward with a lot more than just Snow White. Current live-action plans include several traditional Disney films, all set in different periods of animation by the famed company.
Moana, featuring a live-action Dwayne Johnson as Maui, Robin Hood, The Sword in the Stone, a follow-up to 2021’s Cruella featuring Emma Stone, a sequel to The Lion King, and a live-action remake of Bambi are all confirmed.
With this impressive plan to continue rehashing previous favorites, we’ve already seen Disney make a few changes, such as bringing on Will Smith to play Genie, a character that the late Robin Williams once made iconic in the 1992 film Aladdin.
As well we’ve seen an adult version of Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) take on the role of Belle, and even Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp rejoin Tim Burton for fantastical retellings of Alice, as the Queen of Hearts, and the Mad Hatter.
Crowds could typically stomach the changes and choices. However, when Disney starts messing with the actual storylines or including what some consider to be propaganda-laden ideas in these live-action remakes, that’s when things become muddy.
As with the casting of Halle Bailey and Rachel Zegler in their respective remake, other instances, like that of a potentially “gay” Josh Gad character in 2017’s Beauty and the Beast, have caused quite a stir among Disney fans.
It would seem that when Disney changes the familiarity or offers any sort of progressive look at storytelling, they’re often met with high opposition, and for this reason, one pre-production live-action remake is already under fire due to another controversial decision by the company.
Bambi Gets the Live-Action Treatment
According to Inside the Magic, “overly sensitive viewers” have forced Disney’s hand in deleting one of those sad yet memorable scenes from another classic story that is receiving the live-action remake treatment.
Bambi was announced in 2020, with details remaining scarce; however, we now know that one particular scene will not be included in the film, thanks to Screenwriter Lindsey Anderson Beer.
Beer told Collider in an interview, “Not to spoil the plot, but there’s a treatment of the mom dying that I think some kids, some parents these days are more sensitive about than they were in the past.”
Of course, this comment regarding the tragic scene in which a hunter kills Bambi’s mother set the anti-woke culture ablaze. Forbes highlighted much of the backlash from audiences who felt that this was another tactic by Disney to soften and weaken viewers from what the real world is.
Ironically, Inside the Magic pointed out that Beer, who seems to be the voice behind the exclusion of the famous scene, has also directed a few bloody and gory tales herself, including Pet Sematary: Bloodlines (2023).
Fans Make Themselves Heard Regarding Disney Live-Action Remake Change
Fans of the popular Disney fan site were quick to make their thoughts heard regarding the exclusion of this scene, with many opposing the thought that it’s too traumatic for young audiences in today’s day and age.
Marianne said, “I saw Bambi when I was 4 in 1955. It was relatable as I didn’t have a mother. I felt I would be fine with my father.”
John pointed out that life has some hard lessons in store and we shouldn’t shy away form them,
“Death is part of life and should be shown how will kids know what death is and how final and tragic it is if there not taught and the younger they learn the better other wise that can kill you or you could die from that means absolutely nothing like the violent video games you let them play where they die and kill each other over and over teach them life ls not easy life is not fair and there is a lot of sorrow and sadness in life the younger they learn about it and how to learn from it and deal with it the better they will be equipped to deal with and handle life as adults unlike the young adults we are dealing with today who were taught nothing from there parents except how to feel sorry for themselves and cry that life’s not fair and want everyone to tke care of them because they can’t emotionally deal with life life is hard teach them how to handle it it’s not a video game.”
Others, like Lori, suggest that there is much more to be worried about regarding the youth of today, “Exactly! And there is much worse on TV and streaming services these days the kids and teens are watching! Come on, parents, I’m a lifelong lover of Bambi. I have a collection of Bambi books, stuffed animals, and figurines!”
Although these comments seem to be the consensus among ITM readers, there are those who felt that removing the scene wasn’t a terrible idea. Some noted the traumatizing impacts of watching a parent die, whether it be an animal or human.
We at Disney Dining would like to hear your thoughts regarding the removal of this scene from the upcoming live-action Bambi. Do you support the idea, or is it a gross overreaction by Disney?