Monday, September 26, 2011

#5: Man... was in the forest.

Bambi, 1942
watched September 25, 2011

(c) Disney
Bambi is a quintessential 'coming of age' story--full of life's little adventures. Learning how to walk, making new friends, experiencing the first snowfall, and finding love make for charming vignettes on screen. And, let's face it--you can't really go wrong with adorable baby animals, and lots of them. (I am the biggest sucker for cute baby animals. Really. It's embarrassing.)

While the film floats along in an almost uneventful manner, the most dramatic moments are caused by the one thing that all the forest animals fear most: Man.

The characters in Bambi are animals with very human characteristics: they talk, laugh, and cry, they are curious, shy or proud,and they have deep bonds with one another. In contrast, Man seems to be void of humanness, even appearing monstrous - accentuated by his very absence from any frame of the movie. He is more of an idea than a character. To me this role reversal is the most intriguing aspect of the film.

Through my Gospel lens, it's impossible not to recall the words from Genesis 1 while watching Bambi. When God tells Man to subdue the earth and to rule over all the animals, I am pretty sure he did not mean for us to become the threat that all of creation fears. And so perhaps without meaning to, Bambi becomes a critique on Man's role in the natural world. I feel called to account as I see the animals running for their lives from burning trees. And when Bambi calls out to his mother who has been shot dead by hunters, I am not only sad but also indignant.

What is depicted in Bambi is really the problem of sin. Selfishness, carelessness, pride and ambition lead us to make certain choices, and those choices have consequences not only on ourselves but on creation as well. While we may not necessarily light the flame that starts a forest fire, or pull the trigger that kills an animal, our impact on the earth is still felt by other creatures, just as Man's presence was felt so strongly in Bambi.

I'm not going to jump into a "let's save the earth!" campaign or anything here, but Bambi reminds me that caring for the earth is a very godly, spiritual act. It is part of who we are as humans made in God's image, one of God's very first commands to us. When we take seriously his mandate to steward creation, we worship the name of God, and that is when we are most human.

Disclaimer: this post is not meant to have any anti-hunting agenda. 

1 comment:

  1. "He is more of an idea than a character."

    That's a great point!

    This week at Bible study, we were talking about evangelism and I think that many Agnostics have this kind of view of God. Almost a Star Wars "force" rather than a real being with distinctive characteristics and a personality. Just a random thought.

    P.S. love the disclaimer. although I don't think I could shoot a deer after watching Bambi.