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What Will a Live-Action Bambi Remake Look Like? – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

What Will a Live-Action Bambi Remake Look Like?



The 1942 Disney classic animated drama film, Bambi, remains a challenging watch for viewers of all ages. Despite its technical excellence and undeniable beauty, Bambi has gained a reputation as one of the darkest films ever made, retaining its power to reduce viewers to tears even after more than eighty years since its initial release. It is an emotionally overpowering experience, and while the film possesses many qualities, most people find it difficult to endure.

One of the reasons for the movie’s impact is the cataclysmic death of Bambi’s mother, which takes place off-screen but remains one of the most traumatizing events in film history. Many parents refuse to tell their children what happens to Bambi’s mother, as if she disappears instead of being gunned down by a faceless human hunter. Given this history, can a live-action remake of Bambi affect audiences as deeply as the animated film? And should a remake have even been attempted? Moreover, why was Sarah Polley chosen to direct the remake?

Bambi is the latest beloved Disney animated film to receive the live-action remake treatment. While some of the previous Disney live-action remake films, such as Cinderella and The Jungle Book, have been successful, most have been met with mixed reviews. Therefore, besides the obvious commercial motivation behind a Bambi remake, what is the creative justification for remaking such a revered film? Will the live-action approach to Bambi improve upon the animated film, or will it merely remind viewers of how much they love the original?

The prospect of photorealistic animals in the film has garnered much criticism, but Sarah Polley’s history as an actress and director reveals several connections with Bambi’s central themes of family and survival. Polley’s confusion regarding her own family history and self-identity forms the basis of her previous films, which suggests that she will bring the same focus on emotional honesty to Bambi.

Assuming that Polley is primarily inspired to direct a live-action remake of Bambi by her love and respect for the 1942 film, the remake will likely focus on familial dynamics and survival. Moreover, the presentation of the shooting death of Bambi’s mother would allow Polley and her collaborators to explore issues of animal rights and nature preservation, as the film has drawn many people to these causes over the past eighty years.

Ultimately, Polley’s history as a filmmaker suggests that she will bring bold and unconventional ideas to the Bambi remake, potentially winning over even the most cynical of viewers who are tired of Disney remakes. While Bambi may not hold the same emotional attachment as Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin, remaking this movie represents a financial risk, as none of the previous pre-Disney Renaissance films, with the exception of Alice in Wonderland, have grossed $1 billion at the worldwide box office. However, with Polley at the helm, it is possible that the remake may surpass expectations and become a critical and commercial success.

The classic 1942 Disney animated drama film Bambi is a difficult film for adults and children alike to sit through. Beyond the film’s technical excellence and undeniable beauty, Bambi has also gained a well-earned reputation for being one of the darkest films ever made.



Indeed, more than eighty years after the film’s initial release, Bambi has lost none of its seemingly unmatched power to reduce viewers, both new and old, into a crumbling ball of sadness and tears. Bambi represents an emotionally overpowering viewing experience, and despite the film’s many qualities, most people simply can’t take it.

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Of course, much of the film’s impact stems from the cataclysmic shooting death of Bambi’s mother. It is not an exaggeration to state that Bambi’s mother’s killing, which takes place off-screen in the film, is one of the most traumatizing events in film history, as evidenced by the fact that so many parents refuse to even tell their mystified children what really happens to Bambi’s mother, as if Bambi’s mother simply disappears in the film, instead of being gunned down by a faceless human hunter.

Given this history, is it even possible for the announced live-action remake of Bambi to affect audiences as deeply as the animated film still does, and should a remake have even been attempted? Moreover, why was Sarah Polley chosen to direct the remake?



Does Bambi Need To Be Remade?

Bambi's Mother
RKO Radio Pictures

Bambi is the latest great Disney animated film that Disney has decided to give the live-action remake treatment to, and while most of the previous live-action Disney remake films, such as The Lion King and Dumbohave been greeted with mixed reviews, the overwhelming consensus is that none of the Disney live-action remake films have surpassed their beloved animated predecessors with the rare exceptions of Cinderella and The Jungle Book.

Related: Great Movies About Meditative Journeys Through Nature

Accordingly, besides the obvious commercial motivation behind a Bambi remake, what is the creative justification for remaking such a revered film, which seems just as poignant today as it was back in 1942? Moreover, will the live-action approach to Bambialong with the accompanying CGI effects, improve upon the animated film or merely remind viewers of how much they love the original film?

Does a live-action Bambi remake represent a purely calculated commercial exercise for a younger demographic that hasn’t even seen the 1942 film? Accordingly, for those people who love the original film, will a remake hold any interest? While Bambi likely won’t hold the same emotional attachment to audiences the same way that Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin did, is remaking this movie a financial risk as none of the previous pre-Disney Renaissance films, with the exception of Alice in Wonderlandhave grossed $1 billion at the worldwide box office. The prospect of photorealistic animals in The Lion King and The Little Mermaid has down much criticism, and Bambi will have to use a similar technology.

How Will Sarah Polley Approach Bambi?

Every-Movie-Directed-by-Sarah-Polley-Ranked
National Film Board of Canada

Although Sarah Polley seems like an unconventional choice to direct a Bambi remake, Polley’s history as an actress and a director reveals several connections with Bambi in terms of the film’s central themes of family and survival. The Disney format, which Polley first encountered as an actress in 1985, when Polley made her first screen appearance in the Disney Christmas fantasy film One Magic Christmas.

Polley co-starred in director Terry Gilliam’s outlandish 1988 adventure fantasy film The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. The following year, Polley provided the voice of Young Celeste in the 1989 animated adventure film Babar: The Movie. Polley also starred in the children’s television series Road to Avonleawhich was co-produced by the Disney Channel and lasted from 1990 to 1996.

Related: Why Disney Needs To Stop Remaking Movies

Prior to being announced as the director of BambiPolley won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for the 2022 drama film Women TalkingPolley’s fourth feature-length film as a director, which tells the story of a group of women at an isolated Mennonite colony who must fight for survival after being drugged and raped by men. Like white-tailed deer Bambi, these women struggle to survive this ordeal while looking ahead to an uncertain future.

Moreover, like Bambi, who only discovers that the Great Prince of the Forest is his true father after the death of Bambi’s mother, Polley’s confusion regarding her own family history and self-identity forms the basis of her third directorial outing, the 2012 documentary film Stories We Tellin which Polley discovers that the father who raised her wasn’t, in fact, her biological father, whose actual identity is revealed later in the film.

Bambi: A Survival Story

Bambi's mother dies
Walt Disney Productions

Assuming that Sarah Polley was primarily inspired to want to direct a live-action remake of Bambi by her love and respect for the 1942 film, along with perhaps the 1923 novel Bambi, a Life in the Woods on which the film was based, it’s logical to assume that the Bambi remake will be focused on familial dynamics and survival. Moreover, the presentation of the shooting death of Bambi’s mother, while being full of dramatic impact, would also allow Polley and her collaborators, if they were so inclined, to explore the issues of animal rights and nature preservation, as indeed the film has drawn many people to these causes over the past eighty years.

Ultimately, Polley’s history as a filmmaker, and her decidedly non-commercial sensibilities as a filmmaker, suggest that she will bring the same focus on emotional honesty to Bambi that she’s adopted with her previous films. Indeed, the artistic integrity that has defined much of Polley’s acting and directing career suggests that her Bambi remake will, at the very least, be bold and unconventional. Disney likely wants Bambi to stand out, and with a director like Polley, it has the potential to win over even the most cynical viewers who are tired of Disney remakes.

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