Childhood is an impressionable time, and for some reason, the parts of movies that always stuck with me the most were the ones that were the hardest to watch. Bambi’s mom dying, or Littlefoot’s mom dying in The Land Before Time (“Mom death: overused trauma tactic? News at 11”). The impression of vague terror I got from the twisting thorns of Sleeping Beauty or the roar of MGM lion at the start of The Wizard of Oz (don’t judge me). And yet, for all that emotional scarring, probably the most traumatic movie I saw as a kid is the one I forgot in its entirety.
I’m speaking, of course, of the parade of melancholy that is Dumbo.
I remember so little about the film, I had to look up the synopsis on Wikipedia just to try and recall why it was so disturbing to me in the first place, and now it’s all coming back to me. The bullying, the sadness, the feeling of all-encompassing unfairness and the fact that the only thing the poor pachyderm could do to improve his lot in life was to fucking fly — an impossible feat for elephants or humans. The message seemed to be: The world is cruel, and unless you’re literally magic, there is no escape.
So anyway, Disney just released the first teaser trailer for their live-action remake of Dumbo and I’m STILL NOT READY FOR IT:
Director Tim Burton is clearly trying his hand at gritty realism this time around, but hey — he’s re-teamed with Danny DeVito so I’m gonna pretend this is an alt-universe sequel about the Penguin from Batman Returns because self-deception helps me sleep at night. The film also stars Colin Farrell, Eva Green (as an aerialist!), and Michael Keaton (as, I dunno, a silver fox?).
Just like Dumbo, I’m probably gonna have to chug a vat of booze to deal with this movie.