When I was in college, I found myself involved in one of those pre-class discussions with the folks sitting around me about the movies we watched on repeat in our childhood. Everyone chose Disney movies, all animated. I remember a classmate proclaiming Bambi to be her cinematic drug of choice, and I couldn’t begin to wrap my mind around that.
I love Disney movies, and I was super fond of many of them as a child. But Bambi? That movie devastated me. I still unhappily remember that experience, and I was only four or five. I remember sitting excitedly a couple of feet from the television. I was in the house by myself, my brothers and parents out working in the garden.
And when you-know-what happens, I fell apart. This was the first movie death I probably ever watched. And my whole family were deer hunters. And Bambi’s mom just died. The implications! Oh, how little Amanda did cry.
Similarly, The Fox and The Hound still makes me twitch. And the non-Disney The Land Before Time? My husband adored that movie. When I think of it, I think of Little Foot mistaking his own shadow for his mother. And my heart just breaks all over again.
If I had watched these movies for the first time as an adult, I don’t think the damage would be so irreparable. As it stands now, I cannot handle the lingering emotional scars these movies cut into me. Note: I can watch Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Aladdin, The Lion King (amazingly Mufasa’s death somehow didn’t unravel me), and Cinderella happily and with ease.
But back in that classroom, I announced that a neighbor had taped the television edit of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off onto VHS and given it to us to watch. And that was the movie I was obsessed with as a young kid. My classmates, particularly the Bambi girl, now looked at me like I was the alien. And I guess I was.
But that movie, particularly the version that had been edited for television, is really a perfect movie for a kid. Ferris talks right to you! Cameron makes hilarious faces! There’s a fast car!
But let’s get real. What I really wanted when I was a kid, when my mom put the tape in on my sick days, were the parade dancing scenes. They were my everything. To the point I felt my dad was betraying me and lying when he explained a really popular band sang “Twist and Shout,” not Matthew Broderick. I refused to believe it was a lip synch. This was real!
The funny thing to me as an adult, however, is that those movies that so devastated me as a kid are actually pretty good at exposing kids to the harsh realities of life. The real cruelty is that things like those parade scenes never actually happen, and that is a life-long disappointment I have to bear. I legitimately thought that when I grew up, we’d be dancing all the time. And we aren’t! What a crock!
But I still love watching scenes where actors break into huge choreographed numbers. I still hold out that they will be a reality for me one day. Hey, there are flash mobs, after all!
But for this rainy Thursday, I am happy to just escape into some of my favorite dance number scenes from my childhood. The ones that convinced me that once I grew up, moms wouldn’t die and my best friends wouldn’t turn against me (Damn you, Bambi! Damn you, The Fox and The Hound!) No, no, once I grew up, we’d just all be dancing! Below are some of my favorites. What are yours?