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snopes 08 March 2008 08:23 PM

Disney keeps killing movie mothers
 
Ever since Bambi's mum hit the clover in 1942, Disney, in particular, has been giving mothers the flick from their scripts, even if they existed in the source material.

The move provides an adversity in the plot for the central (young) character. Mother characters, by nature, elicit too much strength. By being there as the one to run to when things go wrong they steal the thunder.

Much easier to kill them off - the earlier the better - and let the audience concentrate on the child.

http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599...007146,00.html

para1 08 March 2008 10:47 PM

Don't the Shrek movies still include Fiona?

Still, Bambi, Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel, Pochahontas and Jasmine had no mothers.

Auntie Witch 08 March 2008 10:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by para1 (Post 537940)
Don't the Shrek movies still include Fiona?

Still, Bambi, Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel, Pochahontas and Jasmine had no mothers.

Shrek isn't Disney.

Ryda Wong, EBfCo. 08 March 2008 11:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by para1 (Post 537940)
Don't the Shrek movies still include Fiona?

As noted, Shrek != Disney. Even if it did, I don't think that's a valid counterpoint in that Fiona is a primary charechter.

101 Dalmations had Perdita (sp?) survive. After dropping a litter of 99 BYB puppies. :eek:

And Mary Poppins, which, IMHO, is one of Disney's best films in terms of its social ethics, had a surviving mother.

Still, the trend is rather unmistakable, especially in Fairy Tale based films. Of course, the death of the mother is a trope in Fairy Tales to begin with.

zephyra 08 March 2008 11:42 PM

I ran across a list of all the Disney animated movies and whether the main characters had parents. I wish I could find it again.:(

Victoria J 08 March 2008 11:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ryda Wong, EBfCo. (Post 537976)

101 Dalmations had Perdita (sp?) survive. After dropping a litter of 99 BYB puppies. :eek:

Surely all the puppies aren't Perdita's ? Certainly in the book she has a large but not spectacular litter, and the rest are rescued with the puppies she gives birth too - leading to the 101. I don't know the film particularly well.

Victoria - expelled for drinking ink - J

my2pence 08 March 2008 11:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Victoria J (Post 537988)
Surely all the puppies aren't Perdita's ? Certainly in the book she has a large but not spectacular litter, and the rest are rescued with the puppies she gives birth too - leading to the 101. I don't know the film particularly well.

Victoria - expelled for drinking ink - J

Same is true in the movie. Some of the puppies are Perdita's, but most are rescued from Cruella and adopted by the family.

Ryda Wong, EBfCo. 08 March 2008 11:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by my2pence (Post 537991)
Same is true in the movie. Some of the puppies are Perdita's, but most are rescued from Cruella and adopted by the family.

Oops! I totally forgot that! Um. Anyway, she's still alive....

Artemis 08 March 2008 11:57 PM

Plus, it's not a Disney thing--it's a story convention. Look at the kids in old fairy tales--either they're orphans or they have terrible parents. Well looked after, white picket fence kids don't make for the best of stories. Terrible things, or the threat of terrible things, have to happen for a story to be halfway decent.

A Turtle Named Mack 09 March 2008 12:24 AM

The orphan striking out on his own and doing grand things is a very strong theme in a lot of fairy tales and epics. If Disney stands out as having an unusual trend in showing parents, it is the presence of the father. So many of the 'kid makes good' tales have the father dead, even when there is a mother (usually in those cases, a supportive mother, but not daring). Disney heroes/heroines usually have fathers who are involved, from Bambi to Cinderella to Ariel to Belle to Mulan to even Lion King (at least the father makes appearances even after he is dead). Pinnocchio had Gepetto, as much a father as any. There are a few exceptions, such as Dumbo, and sometimes part of the conflict is between the father and child (Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, Findding Nemo), but even in these, the father means well and clearly loves his children

Brad from Georgia 09 March 2008 12:33 AM

Mrs. Hawkins is alive in Disney's Treasure Island and Treasure Planet.
Mrs. Darling is alive in Disney's Peter Pan.
Mrs. Dear is alive in Disney's Lady and the Tramp.
Lady is alive in Disney's Lady and the Tramp II: The Revenge.
Mrs. Jumbo is alive in Disney's Dumbo.
The mom is alive in Disney/Pixar's Toy Story and Toy Story II: The Revenge.
The mom is alive in Disney's Song of the South.
Davy Crockett's wife survives him in Disney's Davy Crockett.
The mom is alive in Disney's Old Yeller.
The mom is alive in Disney's Johnny Tremain.

Probably some more, too.....

Avril 09 March 2008 01:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brad from Georgia (Post 538026)
Mrs. Darling is alive in Disney's Peter Pan.
...
Mrs. Dear is alive in Disney's Lady and the Tramp.
...
Mrs. Jumbo is alive in Disney's Dumbo.
...
The mom is alive in Disney/Pixar's Toy Story and Toy Story II: The Revenge.
...

I selected these for a bit of a response.

In Peter Pan, the action happens away from home--away from Mrs. Darling.

Mrs. Dear is not Lady's mother.

Mrs. Jumbo is in jail.

The humans in Toy Story are not really even supporting characters. Woody and Buzz don't have mothers.

In each of these, the mother is pretty much out of the picture. Killing her would be gratuitious.

Avril

Nonny Mouse 09 March 2008 01:46 AM

In The Aristocats the mother is alive and is as much a part of the adventures as her kittens are.

Kim Possible has adventures on her own with a sidekick, but her parents are active in her life and support her in her little world-saving hobby.

The Suite Life of Zach and Cody features a hip single mom who's very involved in her kids' lives, even if she doesn't quite manage to rein in their shenanigans.

Nonny

chelle 09 March 2008 04:02 AM

In Lion King, Simba's mom doesn't die (he does loose his dad, though).

Dutch Angua 09 March 2008 11:06 AM

Mulans parents are both alive, even her grandmother is still among the living.

kitap 09 March 2008 11:57 AM

Disney's just continuing a long tradition; look at The Secret Garden, A Little Princess and The Wizard of Oz.

The mother is alive in The Parent Trap, and while the parents are dead in Escape to Witch Mountain, they're dead in the book as well. (I figure if she gets to mention Hannah Montana, I get to mention these two movies.)

Tarquin Farquart 09 March 2008 01:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by chelle (Post 538134)
In Lion King, Simba's mom doesn't die (he does loose his dad, though).

I was just thinking of that one.

Mickey is a gyrl 09 March 2008 03:29 PM

Though, technically, it wasn't Disney that killed Tarzan's mother- it was Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Alice in Wonderland, it doesn't mention any mother, but her sister acts the role of the mother.

(ok, I'll give you credit in Brother Bear- Kenai kills Koda's mom)

And in Lady and the Tramp, Darling (not Mrs. Dear ;) ) and Jim Dear have a baby, and Lady acts as the mother when the rat comes into the house.

ganzfeld 09 March 2008 03:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Avril (Post 538073)
In Peter Pan, the action happens away from home--away from Mrs. Darling.

More importantly, Pan and the lost boys have no parents, with central themes being having no mother and wanting a mother. (They never mention missing their dads, as far as I can recall.)

Christie 09 March 2008 03:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ganzfeld (Post 538423)
More importantly, Pan and the lost boys have no parents, with central themes being having no mother and wanting a mother. (They never mention missing their dads, as far as I can recall.)

Peter Pan is interesting. The whole reason Wendy and her brothers are brought to Neverland in the first place is because Peter wants Wendy to be a mother to him and the Lost Boys. So mothers have immense value. Fathers, on the other hand? Definitely not so much. Mr Darling is depicted, in the book, play and Disney movie as being pretty clueless about his kids and in some ways is seen as the bad guy in some of his actions. Which makes it less than coincidental that the same actor almost invariably plays Captain Hook (not in the Disney cartoon of course!) -- it may, of course, be to have a smaller cast -- but I've always believed there was a deeper message at work there. Mothers are warm and nurturing - fathers will make you walk the plank ;) .

Cervus 09 March 2008 06:39 PM

Wasn't The Lion King the first Disney movie not to be based on someone else's original work? Nearly every movie the Disney company has produced has been based on other source material, be it a fairy tale or a previously published book by an independent (non-Disney-affiliated) author. Seems like the blame is being put in the wrong place.

Quote:

101 Dalmations had Perdita (sp?) survive. After dropping a litter of 99 BYB puppies.
In the Disney movie, her litter was 15. The other puppies were Cruella's that had been stolen from pet stores and local famlies.

In the original book by Dodie Smith, Pongo has a litter of 15 with his mate, Missis. The humans (the Dearlys) call their vet and other dog owners, looking for a possible "foster mother" because Missis doesn't have enough milk. As it happens, one day they find Perdita lying out on a country road, emaciated and abused. She has recently given birth and still has milk left, so she is nursed back to health and then gradually introduced to some of the puppies. There is concern that she and Missis will fight so they're kept separated for some time, but eventually the three adult dogs and 15 puppies get along. (The backstory is that Perdita was treated badly by her original owner and her litter of 8 was sold to Cruella, so she went out looking for them. At the end she is reunited with them.) So there are actually two dog mothers in the original book.

Aimee Evilpixie 09 March 2008 06:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mickey is a gyrl (Post 538413)
Though, technically, it wasn't Disney that killed Tarzan's mother- it was Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Both his human parents die, but he gets adopted by a gorilla. I don't know if it counts to say he doesn't have a mother--not a human mother, no, but he does have a gorilla mother.

musicgeek 09 March 2008 08:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cervus (Post 538524)
Wasn't The Lion King the first Disney movie not to be based on someone else's original work?

Sure, if you ignore Hamlet and quite possibly Kimba.

Horse Chestnut 09 March 2008 11:33 PM

I used to argue that Tolkien was the King of the Matricides. Most of his characters in Lord of the Rings have dead mamas - including the elves.

But Artemis is right: the motherless hero is an old, old European storybook convention. The apron strings have to be cut before the protagonist can go out adventuring.

ganzfeld 10 March 2008 12:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Christie (Post 538430)
Which makes it less than coincidental that the same actor almost invariably plays Captain Hook (not in the Disney cartoon of course!) -- it may, of course, be to have a smaller cast -- but I've always believed there was a deeper message at work there.

The father and Hook are the same (voice) actor in the Disney version, as well.

ganzfeld 10 March 2008 12:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cervus (Post 538524)
Wasn't The Lion King the first Disney movie not to be based on someone else's original work?

No. The Aristocats is one. (I had the Fox and the Hound, too, before edit. Never trust the Internet.)

Beejtronic 10 March 2008 12:44 AM

Hercules has both god parents and adopted human parents. The people with relatives just seem to hog them from everyone else, don't they?


(And, yes, yes, I know it's terribly innaccurate.)

Mickey is a gyrl 10 March 2008 01:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ganzfeld (Post 538754)
The father and Hook are the same (voice) actor in the Disney version, as well.

That's traditional in all versions of "Peter Pan", though. In every play, every movie, he's the same voice/actor. I don't remember the exact metaphor, but it's supposed to be representative of the father trying to pirate Wendy, John and Michael's childhood and make them be "grown up" when they don't want to. Kind of like how Hook tries to ruin the Lost Boys' happiness and childhood.

ganzfeld 10 March 2008 01:59 AM

Also, Herbie the Love Bug's mother died in an unfortunate collision with a Nazi officer's car in 1940. (It's one of those little-known facts. Not trying to Godwinize or anything.)

Dr. Winston O'Boogie 10 March 2008 06:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cervus (Post 538524)
In the original book by Dodie Smith, Pongo has a litter of 15 with his mate, Missis. The humans (the Dearlys) call their vet and other dog owners, looking for a possible "foster mother" because Missis doesn't have enough milk. As it happens, one day they find Perdita lying out on a country road, emaciated and abused. She has recently given birth and still has milk left, so she is nursed back to health and then gradually introduced to some of the puppies. There is concern that she and Missis will fight so they're kept separated for some time, but eventually the three adult dogs and 15 puppies get along. (The backstory is that Perdita was treated badly by her original owner and her litter of 8 was sold to Cruella, so she went out looking for them. At the end she is reunited with them.) So there are actually two dog mothers in the original book.

It's been a long long long time since I've read the book. I remember what you said about bringing in a "wet nurse"; I thought Perdita was Pongo's bitch (sorry, had to get in the gratuitous swear), while Missis was the wet nurse. Wouldn't put it past Disney to switch the names to keep the alliteration, though.

Brad from Georgia 10 March 2008 07:08 PM

Actually, the basic story of Lady and the Tramp was original with Joe Grant, a Disney writer. Disney bought the rights to a story by Ward Greene called "Happy Dan, the Whistling Dog," because the character of Tramp was so close to that of Dan (who has a lady dog friend named Miss Patsy)--a pre-emptive strike, in a way. Lady and the Tramp has an original plot, in other words, and is not really based on a pre-existing book. Greene did novelize the script when the movie was made, however.

Mama Duck 10 March 2008 07:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Horse Chestnut (Post 538718)
I used to argue that Tolkien was the King of the Matricides. Most of his characters in Lord of the Rings have dead mamas - including the elves.

I didn't think the Elf mothers died so much as sailed for the Gray Havens.

Brad from Georgia 10 March 2008 07:13 PM

"Mother, what do you expect to find in the Gray Havens?"

"Shopping, child. Shopping."

Mama Duck 10 March 2008 07:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brad from Georgia (Post 539547)
"Mother, what do you expect to find in the Gray Havens?"

"Shopping, child. Shopping."

So the Galleria is patterned after the Gray Havens. This explains so much. Except the ice skating rink.

LizzyBean 10 March 2008 07:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mama Duck (Post 539543)
I didn't think the Elf mothers died so much as sailed for the Gray Havens.

My memory may be bad, but didn't Arwen's mother die? That's the vibe I got anyway.


Quote:

Both his human parents die, but he gets adopted by a gorilla. I don't know if it counts to say he doesn't have a mother--not a human mother, no, but he does have a gorilla mother.
She was the only mother he really knew, so I would argue that yes, she was his mother. She doesn't get killed off in the Disney version, but his father does.

Aimee Evilpixie 10 March 2008 07:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LizzyBean (Post 539564)
She was the only mother he really knew, so I would argue that yes, she was his mother. She doesn't get killed off in the Disney version, but his father does.

At the very, very end. It's certainly not another "no parents, therefore free to have adventures" kind of story.

Mama Duck 10 March 2008 07:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LizzyBean (Post 539564)
My memory may be bad, but didn't Arwen's mother die? That's the vibe I got anyway.

Granted, I'm going off my admittedly fuzzy memory. But she was attacked by Orcs and sailed to the Gray Havens in order to forget the ordeal.

ETA: I'm not as fuzzy as I think am I! Or something like that.She did sail rather than die.

LizzyBean 11 March 2008 03:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Aimee Evilpixie (Post 539568)
At the very, very end. It's certainly not another "no parents, therefore free to have adventures" kind of story.

True, which was why I brought it up. I was trying to go against the "Disney kills off all the parents" bit. Guess I missed, eh? ;)

Elkhound 11 March 2008 04:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ryda Wong, EBfCo. (Post 537976)
101 Dalmations had Perdita (sp?) survive. After dropping a litter of 99 BYB puppies. :eek:

IIRC, most of the pups were the ones rescued from Cruella's fur coat project.

Lainie 11 March 2008 04:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Elkhound (Post 540804)
IIRC, most of the pups were the ones rescued from Cruella's fur coat project.

That's been explained at least once in the thread already.


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