Sunday, November 21, 2010

Kid's Movies Where Children's Mothers are Dead or Die During Movie

I got much of this information from:

However, in The Lion King Simba DID have a mother, her name was Sarabi, so I deleted that movie from the copy & paste list from the website and I read that Alice in Wonderland did have a mother, she was just not shown because Alice was reading with her sister at the beginning of the movie.

Before the list here is an article about the lack of mothers in Disney movies:

Disney’s Dead Mothers Club

I’m not sure of many things in this world, but I’m convinced of this one: Walt Disney Studios has something against mothers. In a striking number of Disney movies - in fact, in most of the animated films, the mother gets bumped off before the film begins, or early on in the action. As far as Disney is concerned, the only good mother is a dead mother.

I take this rather personally, because I am a mother, and have read the Disney books and seen the Disney movies with my children. Naturally, I’m always looking for a “cuddle moment” - when the kids and I can say “Awww,” looking at the close mother-child relationship, and feel a rush of recognition in it. However, time and time again, we see something sinister instead: dead mothers, or protagonists apparently not of woman born. It is noteworthy that Disney deletes all reference to the most primary human relationship.

Put briefly, the Disney message is: there is no such thing as a mother; having a mother is not a factor in your life in any way; remove Mom from any of your feelings, thoughts, or behavior. Not a frame or a word is wasted on Mom stuff. (Dad, however, is another story; you’ve got to have a Special Relationship with him, or you won’t get anywhere in life.)

I first recognized Disney’s compulsion to bump off moms when, as a young child, I saw Bambi. I remember my delight as Bambi and his mother scampered about in the meadow, and I can still feel my astonished pain as Bambi’s mother is shot dead and left behind in the woods - a violent tragedy for which I was neither prepared nor helped to work through. At the strategic moment, Dad (the Prince of the Forest, conveniently) came along and off they went, never looking back. Mom dies, and you just run away, no regrets. In a movie intended for small children, that scene is downright sadistic.

A similar fate befalls Mama Dumbo, in another heartwrenching scene equally inappropriate for small children: little Dumbo the elephant loses his mother early on, when she is locked in a cage and taken away from him forever, her helpless trunk reaching out to him for one last motherly caress. Even discussing it last week with another mother, we both burst into tears just thinking about it. Yet, all over the world, parents sit their tender little children down in front of such scenes and convince themselves that it is the ultimate Wholesome Family Entertainment. What a sell job!

Then there’s the category of Long Gone Moms. In Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the mom has died before Scene One, and we encounter only a depraved Wicked Stepmother. Ditto with Cinderella.

Ole Geppeto the Woodcarver can’t seem to come up with a mom for Pinocchio in the movie of the same name, but a Blue Fairy does some motherly sorts of rescues and magic for a brief time and then makes a final farewell. Pinocchio wishes to be a real boy, but never to have a real mom.

Sleeping Beauty fares little better. The Queen Mom and her husband, the king, earnestly “wish for a child,” and finally get one who comes with a curse (made by a powerful woman villain). Young Aurora is sent away at birth from her parents to be raised by three inept aunts. Later, when they all come back from a hundred-year sleep, where is the joyous reunion with Mom?

Granted, these ancient stories have been handed down from days when mothers died young, often during childbirth. The stories were meaningful to those who were left with stepmothers who mistreated them; after all, bloodlines establish inheritance, and stepmothers wanted to position their own blood offspring to inherit money or power. But there are hundreds of ancient stories on diverse themes. Why did Disney choose these?

More recent Disney movies have swelled the ranks of the Dead Mothers Club still further.

In the movie recounting the young King Arthur’s exciting boyhood, The Sword in the Stone, there is a father, but no mother. Likewise, young Mowgli in The Jungle Book has lost his human parents, but even his surrogate caregivers are father, not mother, substitutes - Baloo the Bear and Bagheera the Panther.

In The Little Mermaid, Ariel the mermaid has only a father, King Triton; we are never told what in the Deep Blue Sea happened to Queen Triton, or whatever her name was. Belle in Beauty and the Beast lives with her dotty father, an inventor, in the woods, and it’s anybody’s guess if she ever had a mom, or was merely one of her father’s previous inventions.

Princess Jasmine, the female lead in the movie Aladdin, has only a father, the king, and a - male - tiger companion. The only way we even know she had a mother is when her dad tokenistically recounts, “You’re just like your mother.” Exeunt mom.

Even Max and Goofy in The Goofy Movie are in a mom less world. We relish Goofy’s well-meaning incompetence as a single dad, and when father and son take a long trip, no reference is made to a dearly departed or otherwise-occupied mom of any kind. The father-son bond is all that matters. Even Max’s heartthrob, the Girl Next Door, has only a father!

When Pocahontas came out, I thought, well, this is a whole new world, so to speak; the rules have changed. If the lead character can be a strong, serious, woman who turns down romance to help her people, maybe there will even be a mother. No dice: no Mom. There is one mumbled reference to “when your dear mother died,” and the plot proceeds apace.

Mom is never a player at all, not missed, not remembered - where are all the “Mom visions” like those Simba has of his deceased lion father up in the sky, in The Lion King? Where are the memories of mother love, motherly advice, motherly ways?

And who is mothering these protagonists? Everyone in the world but Mom. It may be a friendly fish, a cricket, a chipped teacup, seven dwarfs, friendly birds, rabbits, skunks and baboons - all of the male gender, of course. There’s not even room for a helpful sister figure. The message? Who needs a mom when you’ve got a friend.

Up on the wall somewhere in the Disney Studios’ inner sanctum there must be a sign: NO MOMS ALLOWED. There cannot be even a benevolent, mild mom. No moms at all.

However, in the area of the Disney villain, Disney shows real even-handedness, perhaps even preferential hiring. VILLAINS CONSIDERED AFFIRMATIVELY, the other sign might read. Unlike the mother taboo, Disney creates looming, hideous female witches, demons, octopi, dragons, and stepmother-monsters, to make sure everyone comes away with a perfectly nauseating feeling toward powerful women. They can be disposed of by bursting, melting, catching fire, being run through with swords, pushed off cliffs, or other imaginative punishments. The sound of their screams as they perish in agony is bloodcurdling. Some are even moms.

What sort of effect do 50-plus years of Disney-sponsored fantasies have on our society and our world? When will the lie be put to rest that Disney films are “the best in children’s entertainment?” And when will mothers and mother-love be given a face and a voice that reflect the reality of human experience and our basic needs?

The solution? After I read her this essay, my seven year old daughter said solemnly, “Maybe there should be more mother animators.”

c 1995 by Kristin Lems

Here is the list of animated DISNEY movies without mothers:

Brother Bear - Someone threw a fiery stick and she fell in water and died (according to my 4 year old) (horrific death-hunter kills her)

Cinderella - Mom has died before Scene One

Snow White - Mom has died before Scene One, her evil stepmother is a witch who tells a hunter to kill her

Bambi - (horrific death) shot dead by a hunter in the woods while running for her life with Bambi

Bambi II - Dead mother, raised by father most of the movie but given to another female deer at one point

Dumbo - (heartbreaking separation) locked in a cage and taken away at beginning of movie

Pinocchio - Motherless with only Geppeto & Jiminy Cricket to care for him

Sleeping Beauty - Her mother & father are alive but she was sent to be raised by her three aunts to keep her safe from the evil witch who cursed her to die on her 16th birthday when she was an infant.

The Sword in the Stone - Father, but no mother

Jungle Book * Young Mowgli's surrogate caregivers are male

Little Mermaid - Ariel's mother dies before the movie she has her father- King Triton, tutor - Sabastian (male crab), best friend - Flounder (male fish) & sisters (whom we don't see much of)

Beauty and the Beast - Belle only has a father & the Beast has no one but inanimate objects in his house

Aladdin - Jasmine only has a father, the king & Aladdin is parent-less, left to fend for himself)

Chronicles of Narnia - No parents, they are sent to live with their grandfather but spend most of the movie parent-less

The Goofy Movie - Max and Goofy are both motherless (also, Max’s heartthrob, the Girl Next Door, has only a father)

Pocahontas - No mother. One mumbled reference to “when your dear mother died.”

The Wild - No mother

Chicken Little - Mother died before movie began, father struggles with raising him & showing affection

Hunchback of Notre Dame - Mom was killed before Scene One

Atlantis: The Lost Empire - Mom is assimilated (dead)

Lilo and Stitch - Mother & father both die in a car crash leaving her older sister to care for her

Peter Pan - Peter is orphaned before the movie starts

The Fox & The Hound - Mother is killed by hunters

Herbie: Fully Loaded - No mother

The Rescuers - Absent mother

The Great Mouse Detective - No mother

Enchanted - Mother is dead before movie starts

Tarzan - Both parents killed by a wild animal when he was a baby

The Three Caballeros - No mother, only father

The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh - We never see Christopher's parents

James and the Giant Peach - James is orphaned & sent to live with his aunts

Pixar Animation:

Finding Nemo - (horrific death) Mother & all of her eggs but one are eaten by a huge barracuda in front of the husband / father

There are other movies where the child has no mother:

Free Willy 4: Escape from Pirate's Cove - The main character, Kirra, (Bindi Irwin - the jungle girl, Steve Irwin - the crocodile hunter's daughter) has no mother or grandmother, her father is injured so she is sent to live with her grandfather who is divorced & estranged from his wife, her mother died when she was 4 years old.

The Wizard of OZ - Dorothy is living with her aunt & uncle on their farm.

Dawson's Creek - Joey's mother died of cancer & her father is in prison for drugs at the beginning of the first season.

Under the Mountain - Opening scene: Police are telling the dad of teenage twins that there was an accident & their mother has died. In the very next scene the twins are being shipped to their dead mother's sister so live because their dad is having a breakdown.

Den Brother - teenage boy & little girl's mother died before the beginning of the movie.

Alpha & Omega - They never show any mother wolves except for the alpha wolf's (Katie).

Nestor the Long Eared Donkey - In this animated Christmas movie the main character (Nestor the boy donkey) gets kicked out of the stable by his owner so his mother voluntarily follows him out to because it was very cold & snowing. Overnight she dies while using her body to protect him from a blizzard. *Merry Christmas <-- sarcastic

Here is another link to this subject:

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