Bambi (1942) Our First Lesson in Grief


By Lily McCann 

© Lily McCann 2014


When you ask most children what the most traumatising film of their childhood was, Bambi (1942) is likely to get mentioned. However, the movie actually teaches us a valuable life lesson in terms of grief and how to deal with it. In fact, Disney has become renowned for telling it like it is to children and helping them to understand life’s obstacles in a straight forward and honest way, without being too graphic.

    Bambi AdBambi’s mother is shot by a hunter when he’s still a young fawn; the death was uncharacteristically brutal for a children’s film, despite the death not actually being shown on the screen, and is often cited as one of the most shocking moments in cinema. The rest of the film shows Bambi trying to battle with the overwhelming grief he felt over the loss of his mother, overcoming this and growing up to father his own child with his mate Faline.

   The main message is that it gets better; time heals grief, as well as support. His friends Thumper, a rabbit, and Flower, a skunk, are effectively Bambi’s support system throughout the movie, accompanying him on adventures and reassuring him of their friendship. Talking and sharing your feelings when grieving is a huge step in healing. Bambi loses the most important figure in his life, his mother, and this leaves him incredibly vulnerable mentally as well as physically. One of a child’s biggest fears is losing a parent or guardian and this is why the movie hit home so much with its young audience. The film shows the power of friendship and how vital they are to overcoming grief. Additionally, the love, protection and support from his surviving father – the Great Prince of the Forest – shows the need for your family to be there for you in times of grief, despite experiencing their own.

4 comments on “Bambi (1942) Our First Lesson in Grief

  1. I can’t recall my own reaction to the first time I saw “Bambi”, however my daughter was around five years of age. She was sad, but looked to us for confirmation when she said “It’s a good thing he still has his daddy.” I was impressed with her maturity. It is true what you say that movies and books can serve an excellent purpose in allowing youngsters to experience an emotion without having the trauma actually touch them. It helps develop empathy. I do know younger parents who shy away from introducing their children to such films, but they shouldn’t be afraid.


  2. John Greco says:

    A thoughtful post Lily and good lessons are explored here for both children and adults. And I agree, as does Patricia, movies and books can serve an excellent purpose in allowing youngsters to experience an emotion with having the trauma…”


  3. Page says:

    Even reading the title I knew I was going to cry! ha ha
    My parents took us to the Drive-In a lot when we were kids and Disney films/the latest animation was a big draw for the family. I recall seeing Bambi during a double feature weekend. It was the first film before the lated animated film during the 70s. If I’m remembering correctly, it preceded Song of the South.

    Thanks for taking me on a trip down memory lane, during a wonderful time during my childhood. We all love Bambi and you’ve certainly provided us a wonderful review and your thoughts on the message(s) of the film.
    Talk to you soon!


  4. Sam Juliano says:

    An affecting and meaningful post. We all have indeed had our experiences with BAMBI and what we learned and felt are the feelings of a lifetime.


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