Friday, 21 January 2011

The stuff we remember

I saw the Animaniacs segment "Bumbie's Mom" about 17 years ago. The plot is this: curmudgeonly veteran cartoon star Slappy Squirrel and her peppy nephew Skippy are watching the film "Bumbie, the Dearest Deer" (as you can imagine, it's a Bambi parody) and Skippy is traumatised by the mother's death. To cheer him up, Slappy takes Skippy to visit Vina Waleen, the deer woman who played the mother in the film.

Strangely enough, I only saw Bambi for the first time a couple of years ago - I had only known about it through osmosis before. It's interesting to compare the familiar parody with the unfamiliar original.

Specifically, the way the action is compressed. In the Animaniacs episode, the mother warns Bumbie that there is "no cover from the hunters" on the meadow, then, soon after, we hear a gunshot and Bumbie asks plaintively for his mother. (Cue Skippy bursting into tears) This is followed by the forest fire sequence, and Bumbie, still a fawn, calls again for his mother amid the burning trees.

That brief scene encapsulates what people remember about Bambi: Bambi is a baby deer, whose mother is shot by hunters, and there is a terrifying forest fire near the end. It was interesting, when finally seeing the film, to notice how much of a compression this is.

The part where Bambi's mother warns him about the hunters on the meadow comes long before she is shot by one... in fact, it's a completely different time of year. And, while the forest fire does follow from scenes where animals are in danger from hunters, it is even later... by which time Bambi is fully grown! He is also not still looking for his mother... in fact, I don't think his mother is even mentioned after the Prince (Bambi's father) tells him "Your mother can no longer be with you."

So, we have an amalgamation of three points in the film, separated by months or even years... concentrated into that one brief scene.