DVD: Bambi and 6 Other Films That Scarred My Childhood
Don't get me wrong -- I don't believe that children should be prevented from scraping their knees or eating dirt or falling off the furniture or anything else that teaches them how the world works and gives them the healthy scar tissue that turns them into functional adults. Similarly, I don't see anything wrong with entertainment aimed at kids that includes moments which might be scary or surprising, or -- as in the case of the Disney classic Bambi, out today in a "Diamond Edition" Blu-ray -- frank about death. But man, I still remember how much that film, and others like it, knocked me for a loop when I was a kid.
In a sense, Bambi is a metaphor for itself -- we see the little fawn explore the world, take in its beauty and its horrors, and emerge a fully-formed adult. Kids who see this movie won't leave the theater ready to drive home, necessarily, but they'll have faced many of the same lessons as Bambi. (Another great kids' movie about mortality, incidentally? 2007's wildly underrated Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, co-starring newly-minted Oscar-winner Natalie Portman.)
Anyway, in no particular order, here are the movies that freaked me out as a kid and turned me, for better or for worse, into the man I am now:
Pinocchio: Another Disney classic, and while this one isn't as death-y as Bambi, that whale sent me running to the lobby in tears. (Look, I was four at the time.) The cigar-smoking truant boys turning into donkeys disturbed me as well.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: Still one of my all-time favorite movies, but the boat-ride sequence (including footage of a chicken being beheaded and a worm crawling across someone's face) was jarring, to say the least.
The Railway Children: About all I remember about this 1970 kids' movie -- which aired on TV with alarming frequency during my childhood -- was a scary, pinched-looking nanny who became a supporting player in some of my nightmares.
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