Friday, January 27, 2023

Disney+ Review: Bao

Last month, I spent time babysitting my one-year-old niece and one of the things that kept her entertained was watching short films from Disney+. Out of all the shorts that we watched, the one that touched me the most was Bao. I had heard about it before but watching it with my niece was the first time that I got to see it…and I am glad I did.

The short starts with a Chinese woman preparing steamed buns while her husband watches TV. One of the buns comes to life, and she starts treating the little bun like it was her child. She takes care of, spends time with, feeds, and clothes the little bun as he grows up. In time, the little bun starts wanting to spend time with other kids and wants to spend time doing things away from the woman. This causes conflict between the little bun and the woman until it reaches the point where the bun decides to leave home to be with his girlfriend. The woman tries to stop the bun from leaving and when she realizes she cannot convince it to stay, she grabs the bun and swallows it whole. 

The woman feels bad because of what she has done and cries over what she has done. It is at this moment that her real son arrives, revealing that the story of the bun was about the story of the woman and her son. The woman’s husband convinces the son to talk to her and after a touching moment eating a treat that the little bun (now revealed as her son) refused to eat with her on a bus, the two reconciled. Later, the son and his girlfriend are making buns with the woman as her husband looks on.

I did not expect to feel so moved by the short film as much as I did. I knew it would be a cute film since it is from Disney and I had heard good things about it, but I had no idea the story would be about that. I felt for the woman who treated the little bun like her own child and how she wanted to keep him safe and make him feel protected and feel loved. I do not have children of my own, but I have nephews and nieces who make me feel the same way that the woman felt about the little bun. I agree that it is hard when these kids are starting to grow up and want to begin living their own lives apart from their parents (or in my case, their doting aunt), and when they do not want us to see them as children anymore. Like the mother, I have often had this feeling of how you could love a little one so much that you want to protect the child from everything in this world that could hurt him/her. Therefore, no matter how shocking it was to see the woman swallow the bun whole in the end, I understood what that scene was trying to say. Sometimes we feel that little urge where we do not want the kids to grow up, where we just want to keep them in our arms protected from everything forever. That was what that scene was about for me. It was about that urge to protect but also about that realization that we cannot keep them protected and sheltered from the rest of the world. We must let them go and live their lives in the same way that our parents have done for us.

I did not expect the story to be about what it was. I thought it was just going to be a cute story about the little bun that came to life and that is it. I did not expect such an emotional story that would make me cry.

I loved that the film was able to convey such a good and touching message without using any words. All they needed was the story and the animation (and good background music). I know it may seem childish, but I cried while I was watching the film because it was moving for me. I think it may be because not only do I relate to the little bun who wanted to grow up and experience the world on his own terms, but I could also see myself in the woman, as someone who loved and cherished the little bun from childhood to adulthood and is afraid of letting him go. I think that becoming an adult makes me see both sides of the story and because of that, it was extra touching for me, especially since I was holding my little niece in my arms while I was watching it. 

You may already know the story of the short from this post, but I still think that the short is a good film to watch if you have not seen it yet. It is available on Disney+!



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