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Itís time the green message was aimed squarely at the heart

By Brian Holden - posted Wednesday, 19 May 2010


I watched on TV the charismatic Al Gore gave his high-tech show. This was just another feel-holy-but-horrified gathering of the already enlightened. Since becoming a greenie myself, in about 1970, I have observed that the degradation of the natural environment is relentless. Environmental wins are just blips in the downward slope of the graph.

No government has any intention of not seeking increased economic growth - and all economic growth is based on excessive consumption. Only a massive grassroots movement will put an end to that thinking. But, where would that come from? For as long as the environmental movement fails to connect with the mass of the population, there can be no stopping the obsessive quest of economic growth and its consequential and inevitable degradation of the natural environment.

One of the many examples of communication failure is the greenies incessant use of the term “rare endangered species”. Why do they expect the average person to have a road-to-Damascus experience when he hears those words? Primary producers are very turned-off by the term.

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The greenies need to get their message into young minds. Why have they not noted the effect that one movie released in 1942 had on children?


There is nothing I more appreciate America for than making movies that made my childhood spirits soar. The first was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. I have the music on CD and it still moves me.

Work started on Bambi in 1938, but it was not released until 1942. There were no computers then and animation was a labourious task for the artists. Walt Disney used a multiplane arrangement which allowed the background trees in a forest to move more slowly to the left (if the animal was moving to the right) than the trees in the foreground - as occurs in real life. This gave the otherwise flat scene some depth.

In this beautiful work of cinematic art and ingenuity there was Thumper the rabbit, Flower the skunk, Bambi’s future love-interest Faline, Bambi’s mother (who was simply called Mother) and always in the background keeping guard was Bambi’s father who was the Great Prince of the Forest.

(The pose of the Great Prince of the Forest thrilled all we kids in the audience. His front legs were on higher ground - thus raising the chest and shoulders. The antlers reached for the sky. This was modeled on Edwin Landseer’s stunning 1851 painting Monarch of the Glen which is pictured here.)

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Man was not depicted in the movie, but his menace was felt early in it. Then Mother was shot dead. From that moment the weeping audience hated all hunters. And then an abandoned campfire got out of control and destroyed the forest leaving the surviving animals on an island in a lake.

Hunters in the US at the time complained that it gave them a bad name. That it did. Beatle Paul McCartney dates his very public devotion to animal rights from the moment Bambi’s mother was shot. The US Forestry Service uses clips from Bambi in its message: “Don’t let our forests become once upon a time.”

I wonder how much of the energy of the green movement in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s came from a subconscious imprint made on young minds in the 1940s? That imprint was of the Great Prince of the Forest breaking the news to Bambi that he will never see his mother again.

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About the Author

Brian Holden has been retired since 1988. He advises that if you can keep physically and mentally active, retirement can be the best time of your life.

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