ByJonathan Sim, writer at Creators.co
I'm a writer/film theorist. Check out my articles on Pixar, Harry Potter, Back to the Future, Die Hard, politics, and more!
Jonathan Sim

Walt Disney pictures has been infamously known for having either one or both of the main character's parents dead, either having the parent(s) die during the movie or prior to the film's events. We don't really know why they do this. I mean, this happened in a bunch of movies and I don't want to spoil anything.

But it has been revealed why and I'll tell you.

According to Disney producer, Don Hahn, this is why the parents usually die:

"One reason is practical because the movies are 80 or 90 minutes long, and Disney films are about growing up. They're about that day in your life when you have to accept responsibility. In shorthand, it's much quicker to have characters grow up when you bump off their parents. Bambi's mother gets killed, so he has to grow up. Belle only has a father, but he gets lost, so she has to step into that position. It's a story shorthand."

And there's another reason mothers, fathers, and sometimes both die in films and this involves Walt Disney, the founder of Walt Disney Animation.

"The other reason—and this is really odd—Walt Disney, in the early 1940s, when he was still living at this house, also bought a house for his mom and dad to move into. He had the studio guys come over and fix the furnace, but when his mom and dad moved in, the furnace leaked and his mother died. The housekeeper came in the next morning and pulled his mother and father out on the front lawn. His father was sick and went to the hospital, but his mother died. He never would talk about it, nobody ever does. He never spoke about that time because he personally felt responsible because he had become so successful that he said, 'Let me buy you a house.' It's every kid's dream to buy their parents a house and just through a strange freak of nature—through no fault of his own—the studio workers didn't know what they were doing."

Don goes on to say:

"That idea that he really contributed to his mom's death was really tragic. If you dig, you can read about it. It's not a secret within their family, but it's just a tragedy that is so difficult to even talk about. It helps to understand the man a little bit more. He had just made Fantasia, Dumbo, Pinocchio, Bambi, and Snow White in a five-year span. He buys a house for his mom and dad, they move down from Oregon, and his mom dies. Again, I'm not a psychologist to know it all, but it's a really interesting story. To me, it humanizes Walt. He was devastated by that, as anyone would be."

So, I suppose we've been getting mad at Disney for all of this because of what happened to Walt Disney's parents.

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