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Quentin Tarantino‘s movies are wildly different from Disney movies. They’re violent, transgressive, and narratively complex. Despite this, one Disney film had a huge impact on him as a child. The Pulp Fiction director said an infamous scene from the movie scared him as much as a horror film by Wes Craven.

2 scenes from a Disney movie disturbed Quentin Tarantino

In his 2022 book Cinema Speculation, the Kill Bill director recalled watching a number of violent and sexually explicit movies as a child. He rhetorically asked if there was a film he couldn’t handle as a kid. The movie that came to mind was Walt Disney’s Bambi.

“Bambi getting lost from his mother, her being shot by the hunter, and that horrifying forest fire upset me like nothing else I saw in the movies,” he said. “It wasn’t until 1974 when I saw Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left that anything came close.” For context, The Last House on the Left is one of the most disturbing and violent movies of the 1970s and it was censored in many countries. It’s incredible that Tarantino felt Bambi was comparable to The Last House on the Left.

Quentin Tarantino has a theory why the movie was so traumatic

The Reservoir Dogs director felt that many children had similar experiences with a certain movie about a deer. “Now those sequences in Bambi have been f****** up children for decades,” he wrote. “But I’m pretty sure I know the reason why Bambi affected me so traumatically. Of course, Bambi losing his mother hits every kid right where they live. 

“But I think even more than the psychological dynamics of the story, it was the shock that the film turned so unexpectedly tragic that hit me so hard,” he added. “The TV spots really didn’t emphasize the film’s true nature. Instead, they concentrated on the cute Bambi and Thumper antics. Nothing prepared me for the harrowing turn of events to come. I remember my little brain screaming the five-year-old version of ‘What the f***’s happening?'” Tarantino felt he may have reacted to Bambi differently if he expected it to contain violence.


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How Disney’s ‘Bambi’ impacted the world

While the death of Bambi’s mother has become notorious, inspiring everything from Simpsons jokes to scenes from Lars von Trier’s AntichristBambi still resonated with audiences. According to Box Office Mojo, the movie grossed over $102 million in the United States and over $165 million internationally. Altogether, it made over $267 million altogether. 

Bambi holds up well today. It has some of the most beautiful animation in Disney history as well as some iconic characters like Bambi and Thumper. Bambi stands out from other Disney films because it does not focus on humans, much less princesses, and because it discards the typical three-act story structure. The film inspired a belated follow-up called Bambi 2 that focused on the relationship between the title character and his father. It’s not worth anyone’s time, but that’s the case for the vast majority of the direct-to-video Disney sequels. 

Bambi proved that Disney knew how to handle different tones and that Tarantino did not need to see graphic violence to be scarred.