Unseen Evil: The Rift Between Man and Nature in Walt Disney's "Bambi"

Updated on March 19, 2019

Walt Disney loved nature.

From the birds of Snow White to the mice of Cinderella, the animator portrayed animals as friends of mankind: always merry, always present, and always ready to cheer their human companions with favors or a song. There is an inherent, unwavering kindness in the likes of these creatures that spans the entire Disney canon.

Bagheera mentors Mowgli.

Kala raises Tarzan.

Pooh befriends Christopher Robin.

Turn the lenses on humans, however, and Disney assumes a more cynical tone.

Bambi subverts the illusion that Man, like Nature, is innocent. Released in the midst of World War II, the film is a timely exposé of human violence and greed, prompting viewers to think on their sins at a time when Earth itself, like Bambi's forest, was ablaze. Disney has no intent of pretending here, injecting his story with a realism so strong that the worlds of Man and Nature become entirely separate.

In this film, humans have no screen time. The evil that Man enacts can only be felt secondhand--and while Bambi feels the full effect of every crime against his home, from his mother's death to the climactic forest fire, he never sees the hunters or confronts them directly. If the purpose of this film is, as suggested, to stress the moral rift between Man and Nature, then it is the characterization of Man as an unseen evil that makes Bambi successful.

Minutes into the film, viewers find themselves falling in love with Bambi's world. The sense of family that the animals share, coupled with the striking beauty of the woods, renders a divine-like image of Nature. Beauty, however, is impermanent, and Man, with his guns, fire, and devilish hounds, finds ways to spoil the magic.

Bambi's father, especially, contributes to the film's spiritual subtext. While removed from much of the film's physical action, the Great Prince seems intimately connected to Bambi, touching those around him with the same air of warmth and omniscience ascribed to a god. In a telling scene, Bambi's mother observes these traits in the Prince, describing his greatness while Bambi and a chorus of bucks look on in deep, wide-eyed reverence.

Viewers soon find themselves with an altered understanding of this hero. Just moments later, the Prince, having detected approaching hunters, ushers his family away in a dash to the thicket. Like all the creatures beneath him, he does not attempt to fight or engage the evil before him. It is his ability to survive by flight, not confrontation, that has won him respect.

The inclination to flee, while not associated with traditional understandings of heroism, is fitting for a character like the Prince. The attitude he conveys toward Man, and the example his subjects follow, is a direct reflection of what the film itself seeks to teach: that Good should never mix with Evil.

The Prince knows that the kingdom he protects is one that must not be tainted, and to entertain the presence of its destructor, Man, would be to undermine its innocence. When the hunters approach, the instinct of the animals is always the same: to run away. Beneath their basic need to survive, there is a fear of the unknown, a fear of contact with something that can hunt, kill, and set fires, that drives the animals back. While the film aggressively depicts the cruelty of Man, it also seeks to preserve the innocence of a world beyond his own.

And as long as we approach that world with guns, there can be no reconciliation.

© 2019 Evan Vernon


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)