I saw the opening titles and immediately got anxious. I hoped Shayera would say she didn't want to watch it, but she didn't say anything. Meanwhile, I'm on the couch next to her, holding Zoey and trying to come up with an excuse to leave. The movie started and it was time to feed Zoey. I could feel the tension mounting with every spoonful I gave her, my feeding speed increasing with every bite as I shook with heart heavy anticipation, hoping I could finish feeding her before that scene, and hoping I wouldn't make her choke in the process. That scene that kills me every single time, no matter how old I am or how many times I see it and sometimes, even just listening to it or hearing it described in detail (on Filmspotting, one time). Play at your own risk before continuing.
Luckily, Shayera got tired of watching it this weekend before it got that far. The last time I dealt with this, maybe 6-7 months ago,I ran like someone was spraying plague infected poop all over the room the minute Shayera said she wanted to watch Dumbo. I sat in the other room, reading comics and thought everything would be fine. But it wasn't. Images of the scene were popping into my Walking Dead panels subliminally. Once the scene came on and I could hear Baby Mine, I was wishing I could run toward the zombies for comfort.
I've had conversations with people about whether the opening to Up is sadder than the one for Finding Nemo (the answer there is Up is obviously much sadder, by the way) and of course there's the old standby, Bambi. But I say all those put together are basically Three Stooges comedies compared to Dumbo. I'm just going to go ahead and judge anyone who can watch that scene without being moved and say they are dead inside. There's no hope for you as a human. None. That's all there is to it.
Is it the images or the song, is the question, though. And of course, it's both, but both also work independently. And beyond that, the fact that the whole movie is about being a misfit, an outcast, misunderstood and bullied by society and that this scene is about how everyone just wants their mommy and to be loved and cared for and feel safe, that touches on things I think everyone can relate to in one way or another at some point in their lives. Then, you get older and have kids and you see the other side of it. The mom who just wants to be with her baby and protect them and love them. It's just taking every damned emotion in life, boiling it down to it's purest form and making a sad tea of weep for you to drink, whether you want to or not. And you can't run from it because once you've seen it, it can give you a heartbreak flashback so vivid that it will stop you in your tracks. So, happy mothers day, I guess.
PS. Just searching for that clip and thinking about it as I wrote was almost too much.