Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Disney Universal Maternity

     Dumbo is generally considered a "coming of age" movie. In fact, the theme "coming of age" has been reported not just to be a constant in Walt Disney movies, but to have intricate connections with  Disney's life. Whether this interpretation is true or not, I think that maternity is even prior, as a theme,   in Disney classic animation. For, even though biological maternity is developed only in Dumbo and Bambi, what I would call universal maternity, that bond of sweetness, completness and protection with the young, cuddly and innocent is so pervasive in the other Disney movies that the audience itself feels maternal towards the cute characters. From the very beginning, Dumbo  is a hymn to literal maternity. The delivery of baby Dumbo shows mother elephant behaving so feminine and yet loving, that she bends her big leg, Minnie Mouse like, when identified by the others to the stock. From then on, the love between she and Dumbo is wittily and pungently shown, in a diversity of trivial and yet totally poetic scenes, like his splashing in the water while being bathed by Mom, or his being rocked on the trunk she  ingeniously turns into a swing, from behind her cell. Dumbo is a constant alternation between extreme drama and the extreme, pure, complete happiness of maternal love. After the little elephant becomes famous and important, it is his mother that is honored, as she sits in the VIP wagon of the train while her son hovers above. The very final scene is nothing more and nothing less than a culminating depiction of the intensity of their union: Dumbo's ears, like toddlers' little arms, embraces Mom as he descends over her from his flight.  One can then can assume that what is really happy in that ending is, more than the  little elephant's success, the love of such reencounter.

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