No, this isn't just a desperate attempt to link environmentalism
to Valentine's Day. Actually, I was required to watch the cartoon for class this week and there was a considerable amount of discussion regarding the immense significance of this so-called romance story.
Many regard this movie as the first environmental film ever made. I'm not a film expert so I can't comment on that, but it is hard to deny the incredible impact Bambi has had on our culture. Before Smoky the Bear, Bambi was the one who taught the American people that they could prevent forest fires. Bambi and his forest friends are still images we associate with nature about 60 years after the movie became a box office hit.
In addition to its innovative environmental message, the portrayal of man in the movie inspired a lot of controversy. Hunters, especially, felt asthough Walt Disney had created a piece of anti-hunting propaganda that was designed to brainwash young minds. While that opinion is certainly understandable, I think that is easy and obvious take home message. Instead, I think the message has to do with man's place in nature. I think it calls into question whether we know how to be in a natural environment without destroying it. While humans have consistently advanced technology to make their "civilized" lives easier, they have just as thoroughly forgotten how to exist harmoniously without its assistance. We have little regard for how our man-made items affect the organisms around us and I think that this short, adorable children's movie brings that reality to the fore.
Other issues my classmates felt that the cartoon raised included gender issues, sexuality, and the reality of the natural world. The problem with discussing a children's film is that when you hear people start talking about so many serious ideas, it is harder to take them seriously.
After all, you can always resort to the argument that everyone is making too big of a deal about a kid's cartoon.
Still, I think that the public reaction to Bambi signifies a shift in American awareness about the environment. Its immense popularity at the time of its release is a testament to its effectiveness at impacting those who viewed it and that is something that can and should be taken seriously.