The magical world of Disney has been enchanting children young and old with its animation since 1923. From cute baby deer to adorable dwarfs it’s no wonder Walt’s works are constantly coupled with childhood.
There is, however, a darker side behind those oversized mouse ears, and every now and then a smidgen of macabre seeps through the cracks. Even if only for a scene, there will always be a bit of Dickensian in the Disney. What did we expect from a studio that famously stakes its claim on Grimm’s fairytale adaptations?
So, steamboat your willies and bibbity bobbity brace yourselves, as The Film Magazine counts down the most depressing Disney movie moments.
Have an opinion? Let us know in the comments!
1. Simba Wishes His Dad Dead
The year was 1994 when a sandy coloured lion cub named Simba stole our hearts with his sticky juice-smeared forehead.
We felt for his plight when evil Uncle Scar convinced him to run away from home.
We rejoiced when he found solace from his misplaced guilt in two unlikely friends, Timone and Pumba.
We whooped and hollered victoriously when he took his rightful place on the Iron Throne… I mean Pride Rock.
Unfortunately, this baby cat had pulled a Britney over our Spears, as it turns out he’s not so innocent. Remember the catchy ‘I Just Can’t Wait To Be King’ ditty? Yeah, well, it’s really an ode to his father’s death.
Think about it for a second, there ain’t no abdicating from a lion pride. All Simba wants is to be the “main event, like no king was before” but this childish wish fulfilment fantasy takes on a life of it’s own when you look into the dynamics of how lions become king of a pride.
Younger males are driven out by their parents. During this time of self-discovery they grow stronger, until one day they’re strong enough to return and kill the king. Also, a quick Google search has told me that male lions don’t have a great life expectancy… they tend to die a lot from fighting their dad.
That tragic stampede moment we’ve all been crying about was built on a big pile of putrid murderous deception.
How could you do this Simba? It hurts my childhood.
Recommended for you: The Lion King (2019) Review
2. Elsa’s Parents Push Her Into A Mental Breakdown
Disney’s very own metaphor for depression herself, Princess Elsa, was always going to make a top-ranking appearance on this list. ‘Let It Go’ already…
Blessed with the magical gift of conjuring ice whenever she pleases, one might say Princess Elsa was born with a natural frosty persona. However, when she accidentally hurts her little sister Anna by blasting a beam of ice into her skull (her skull), Elsa is locked away leaving her persona to go liquid nitrogen.
Elsa’s parents come up with the perfect brainwashing motto “conceal, don’t feel.” A curious message that leaves her exasperated when she can’t do either of those things, and eventually brings on anxiety attacks. You’d think that powers heightened by emotions need to be harnessed differently, but instead a hormonal and lonely Elsa must shut off her humanity to avoid shaming the family.
Princess Freak (as she may as well be called) lost connection with her sister as a result of this imprisonment, and was tormented on a daily basis by her confused sister’s torturous song ‘Do You Wanna Build A Snowman’.
Imagine that. Your emotionally fraught younger sister at the door singing about hang time, but you’re confined to a room, numbed to all emotion thanks to your dead parents.
When you put all that into perspective, the song “Let It Go” is basically a musical suicide note.
(That splat sound was my mind blowing wide open and all my happy memories hurtling themselves at the wall screaming “the vessel is impure”.)