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Monday, January 16, 2012


It’s almost seeming like in the world of movies, everything old can be considered new again.

Seriously.  Think about this statement for one quick nanosecond.  It's no secret that as far as the movie industry goes, there's a distinct lack of, shall we say, originality these days.

Looking back over the last decade, one wonders how many movies have been filmed that were essentially remakes, revamps, re-anything really of popular television shows and other movies.

Let's take a look.  Hmmm, we've had remakes of 'Miami Vice', 'Arthur', 'Alfie', 'Footloose', 'The Amityville Horror', 'King Kong', 'True Grit', 'Bewitched', 'The Karate Kid', 'Freaky Friday', 'Black Christmas', 'Dawn Of The Dead', 'Hairspray'...shall I go on?

Now, granted, there are a few of these remakes that have stayed true to the original, and are great ways to kill a couple of hours.  But it has been my experience that the majority of these movies just plain suck.  

It's not just remakes that are guilty when it comes to horrible movie trends as of late.  Seems like another recurring trend is taking a movie that was popular some twenty years ago, and filming a sequel years after the first one went big.  Yes, Toy Story 3 is one of those movies that was released fifteen years after the original, but it was one of the rare success stories.  We've also had Dirty Dancing sequels (though to be fair, they weren't exactly true to the original) and a sequel to Wall Street years after the original, and in my honest opinion, both were kind of forgettable.

And, don't even get me started on the latest trend to incorporate 3D into every movie possible.  We've seen it in recent original films 'Avatar' and 'Despicable Me', but we're also seeing it incorporated into classic films, to make them...well...3D.  Expect to see 'Beauty And The Beast', 'The Lion King', 'Titanic', and 'Finding Nemo' back on the big-screen in 3D in the near future if they aren't in theatres already.

But, doesn't this seem a bit too much to anyone?  I mean, when almost every single picture that is displayed on the theatre marquees show either a remake, a sequel, or a movie being magically updated with three-dimensional technology, doesn't it make one long for a really good original idea?

If there's any sort of apocalyptic threat to anything this year, it's the movie industry.  It's not on death's door yet, but something needs to be done before it erodes to a point of no return.

You know, I remember back in my childhood, it was a really, really big deal for a movie to be brought back to movie theatres after many years.  Of course, I was born at a time before video rental stores on the corner became in vogue, and when all we had to choose from to rent movies was video cassettes.  Back in those days, VCR's cost upwards of $400 or more (kind of shocking considering that one can get a DVD player for as little as $39 these days.  Maybe even cheaper).  So it was a good business move for theatres to occasionally bring back old movies on the big screen so that new generations could see them play out...WITHOUT the promise of 3D.  Because let's face it...the movies were decent enough without the bells and whistles.

The way a good movie should.

Today's Monday Matinee posting will take us back to the 1940s originally.  But my personal story takes place in the summer of 1988.  I had just turned seven years old, and I was really into Disney movies back then.  I grew up watching the classics such as 'Dumbo', 'The Aristocats', and '101 Dalmatians' on network television.  Before my parents ended up getting a VCR, it was all that we really had to rely on, as my family didn't have the money to take us all to the movies every single week.  If anything, we only went to the movies about once a year.  But that was okay with me, because whenever we did go, we'd go all out.  I'm talking buckets of buttered popcorn, the gigantic sized Kit Kat bars that were bigger than my head, and of course a huge drink (which inevitably made me have to go to the bathroom every twenty-five minutes like clockwork). But it was all worth it.

And in 1988, the movie that my mother took me to see was this one.

The movie was 'Bambi', and when I went to see it in theatres, I had thought that it was a Disney film that was brand new.  I had no idea of knowing that the film at the time had been made close to 45 years earlier.

Yes, 'Bambi' was a rarity in the movie world for a number of reasons.  Because 'Bambi' was re-released in movie theaters no less than SEVEN different times before finally being released on home video for the first time in 1989.  

Originally, the film was released August 13, 1942, which admittedly was a bad time for movie releases.  As World War II was being fought at the time, needless to say that going to an animated film about a cartoon deer was probably one of the last things that people were thinking about.  It still managed to make three million dollars at the box office, but it was still considered a disappointment.

But when it was re-released in theaters five years later, in 1947, the was was over, and people seemed to give the movie a second chance.  According to Box Office Mojo, subsequent re-releases of the film occurred in 1957, 1966, 1975, 1982, and the year I saw it, 1988.  Each time it was re-released, it raised more and more money.  In the year I saw the movie, 1988, it made almost $40 million...almost twenty times the amount it made during its first run.

And, keeping up with the Thursday Confession that I posted last Thursday, I'll admit that there was one scene that made me very, very sad.  I'll get to that in a minute.

Anyone who's seen 'Bambi' probably knows anyway what the moment is, so let's just get right into the plot.  We have a baby deer named Bambi. Born to an unnamed mother, and a father who is known to the other creatures of the forest as 'The Great Prince Of The Forest', Bambi had a rather normal upbringing in his earliest years.  He learned to walk on his own at an early age, and once he had that mastered, he ended up befriending a couple of forest creatures...a small rabbit with huge feet named 'Thumper', and a skunk with the unusual name of 'Flower'.  In many aspects, Bambi's infancy wasn't all that different from the toddler years that we grew up with.  One day, Bambi's mother decides to take him to the meadow within the forest, a place known for its beauty as well as its danger.  It is here that he meets a young doe named Faline.  Unfortunately, he also comes across his first glimpse of the enemy.


Fortunately, Bambi and his family manage to escape without harm, and all seems well.

That was until one very tragic event happened very early in young Bambi's life.

It was one very harsh, cold, snowy winter, and during the winter months, food was quite scarce.  On one trip to the meadow during the tail-end of the winter months, Bambi's mother discovers a sole patch of grass, which is a sure sign that spring is around the corner.  The two celebrate their good fortune by dining out for lunch over the patch of grass.

But when a hunter comes by to spoil their lunch plans, Bambi's mother, sensing danger, orders Bambi to flee the scene.  The two make a valiant effort to get away, but shots ring out, with Bambi unsure of what is going on behind him.  Eventually, Bambi makes it back home safely, but realizes that his mother still hasn't come home.  Bambi wanders around the forest calling for his mother, but couldn't hear her respond.  He gets a sickening feeling in his stomach, all but confirmed when Bambi's father tells him that his mother "can't be with him anymore".  And the sobering reality soon hits Bambi.  His mother was no longer alive, and all that his father can do is lead him away.

Spring arrives, and a grown Bambi is reunited with his childhood pals Thumper and Flower during a time in which the other forest creatures engage in a ritual known as 'twitterpating'.  And no, it has nothing to do with the social networking site Twitter.  No, it's kind of similar to a singles bar or a speed dating event, as crudely as it may sound.  It's a ritual where animals meet and greet each other to find their special soulmate.  It's a ritual that Bambi, Thumper, and Flower seem to dismiss, and Bambi especially doesn't want to be 'twitterpated'.  But when Cupid's arrows strike both Thumper and Flower, and they both end up becoming victims of the curse known as love at first sight, Bambi is left frustrated and alone.

That is until another old face from his past arrives in the form of Faline.  And, Bambi soon opens up his heart to let Faline's love come in.  Sure, he ends up getting into a fight with some jealous buck named Ronno which ended up with Bambi pushing Rollo over the side of a cliff (which I'm pretty sure would net us jail time if we had tried the same), but Bambi and Faline soon declare their love for one another.

Of course, that's all I can say about the plot of the film, as I don't reveal endings.  All I will tell you is that man comes back with a vengeance, and when a forest fire threatens to destroy the very home that Bambi had lived in his whole life, it quickly became a fight for survival, not just from humans...but from the elements as well.

But you know something?  The idea of man becoming the enemy of the film was one reason why the film received mixed reviews when it was released initially.  Although it is widely considered a classic film by today's standards, 'Bambi' was actually attacked by hunters, who claimed that the film was an "insult to American sportsmen", and some critics panned the film, stating that it was unpleasant to watch.  Of course, that was then, and now it's a Disney classic.

So, what can Bambi teach us?  Well, ultimately, the one thing I can take from it is the sheer amount of strength  that one might have in order to overcome tragedy.  Mind you, some of us have a more difficult time than others, but if a deer can find the strength to go on after a traumatic event, I think human beings can too.  

And, what did it teach me?  Well, it taught me that in some cases, the idea of everything old being new again can be a novelty...but that's all it should be.  A novelty.

And, sometimes watching a movie as it was meant to be watched...without 3D or 3D glasses, or smell-o-vision, or whatever new fangled movie watching technology exists these days...sometimes that's all one needs to have an enjoyable experience.

Bambi just happens to be a film that doesn't need any of that.  It was good enough on its own.

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