For Mother’s Day, I would like to take a moment to spotlight some memorable mothers from Disney movies. And I mean memorable in a positive way, so no evil stepmothers. The moms I’ve listed here aren’t perfect, and some may have made some questionable choices. But I don’t think there is any doubt that they loved their kids and tried their best.
Bambi’s Mother from Bambi (1942)
Although most well known for her tragic death (who didn’t bawl their eyes out during the scene with the hunters the first time they watched Bambi?), until that point in the movie, we watched Bambi’s kind and graceful mother teach him all about life in the woods. As traumatizing as the movie was, it was recently revealed that at one point the death was supposed to take place on screen and storyboards were developed depicting her being shot while jumping over a log, but it was decided that the death would be just as impactful offscreen (Thank heavens). The death of Bambi’s mother offscreen is still gut-wrenching, and it is said that even Walt Disney’s own daughter, Diane Disney, begged her father to change the story and let the mom live; sadly, Walt declined. Many of us who have seen the film have been haunted by the fate of Bambi’s mother ever since, so she certainly rates as memorable.
Frigga from Thor (2011), Thor: The Dark World (2013), and Endgame (2019)
Let’s get one thing straight right up front: Asgard is messed up. There are a whole lot of questionable choices made in all of the Thor films. But in a royal family containing hot-headed Thor and Odin and emo Loki, Frigga is clearly the voice of reason holding everyone together. Calm, cool, and collected, unlike the men in her life, she still clearly loves both of her boys. And she isn’t going to let a little thing like Odin putting Loki on ultimate time-out in Dark World prevent her from making sure her baby is OK, even if her son is being a bit of a brat (she brings him books! What a great mom). She deserved better than to be killed off as a plot device, even if her death starts her sons on a bumpy road toward reconciliation (a road with a few sudden twists and turn as well). As Thor says, their mother wouldn’t want the two of them to fight, although as Loki replies, she wouldn’t be surprised. How great was it to have Thor get a chance to see Frigga again in Endgame, and for her to be able to get her son back on track by telling him that he shouldn’t be who he is supposed to be, but who he actually is. Frigga, like Bambi’s mother, stands for all the mothers who have left us too soon. And what wouldn’t we give to have a chance to talk with them again one more time and tell them that we love them? Not sure what will happen in the Loki series when it comes to Disney+, but the 2012 Loki who escaped during the time heist is in an alternate universe before Frigga gets killed. Maybe he will have a chance to change that Frigga’s fate. We can hope.
Mrs. Jumbo from Dumbo (1941)
Dumbo’s mother Mrs. Jumbo faced some hardships, being labeled a “mad elephant” just for protecting her son from bullies. Fortunately, she and Dumbo eventually have a happy ending. Despite what those around her said, Mrs. Jumbo knew her baby was beautiful and special. This is clearly emphasized when the song “Baby Mine” plays while Mrs. Jumbo consoles the upset Dumbo after she has been imprisoned. Little one, when you play // Don’t you mind what they say …. you are so precious to me // Cute as can be, baby of mine (I still tear up when that song comes on …’scuse me, I need a tissue). Dumbo may have believed in the power of a magic feather to fly, but Mrs. Jumbo was really the wind beneath his wings…or ears, as the case may be.
Queen Elinor from Brave (2012)
Merida from Brave was the first Disney Princess created by Pixar. Brave was also the first Pixar film with a female protagonist, and the first feature-length Pixar film directed by a woman, Brenda Chapman (co-directed Mark Andrews). Chapman also came up with the story, which was based on her own relationship with her daughter. Most of Brave focuses on the clash between the headstrong Merida and her more traditional mother, Queen Elinor. As the movie progresses, Elinor becomes less of a perfectionist and more accepting of her free-spirited daughter, not to mention a literal mother bear when defending Merida. The film ends with the two reconciling, having realized their importance to one another, as their kingdom embarks on a new path.
Helen Parr/Elastigirl from The Incredibles (2004) and Incredibles 2 (2018)
This is one mom who has her hands full! Good thing she has superpowers because her kids do too. Still, she has to deal with everyday struggles as well as saving the world. And dealing with the kids might be harder.
Perdita from 101 Dalmations (1961).
After helping to rescue her own 15 pups from the evil Cruella De Vil, Perdita and mate Pongo go on to adopt 84 more puppies. That is quite a feat!
Kala from Tarzan (1999)
Kala isn’t one to let a little thing like blood (or species) get in the way of being a loving mother. She adopts the orphaned Tarzan and teaches him what he needs to know to live in the jungle. And she will love him whatever path he takes, whether to stay in the jungle or join the world of men. He is her son no matter what. She and Perdita represent all the mothers who have taken in and loved children.
Tala from Moana (2016)
Tala on this list represents all the mothers who have graduated to grandmother. Now they can dote on and spoil their grandchildren. Grandmas always have the patience and time to listen to their grandkids babble on and on about whatever is going on in their lives and never pass judgment. In the movie, Tala is the one who believes in Moana and helps her on her quest. When Moana falls into despair and loses hope of ever succeeding in her quest, it is Tala’s spirit that inspires her.
Nani from Lilo and Stitch (2002)
Nani isn’t a mother but an older sister; however, she had to step up to raise her younger sister Lilo when their parents were killed. A lot of responsibility fell on her young shoulders, and no doubt she had to make sacrifices. Nani has a tough time working as a waitress to support them while trying to take care of the rambunctious Lilo. The plan to adopt a dog as a companion for Lilo backfires when they get the alien Stitch instead. In the end, the little family expands to include Stitch and some other displaced aliens, because “Ohana” means family, and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.
And the list goes on. There is Duchess from The Aristocats, Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast, Riley’s mom from Inside Out, Laurel Lightfoot from Onward, and many more. Which were your most memorable mom moments from Disney films?