Review by Michael Jacobson
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Mono
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio: Walt Disney
Features: See Review
Length: 70 Minutes
Release Date: March 1, 2005
happened, Mother? Why did we all
in the forest."
suppose one of the legacies of Bambi is that it frequently serves as a
young child's first introduction to death.
Whether or not Walt had that in mind when he made the picture I can't
say. What I can say is that I
remember the night my own mother passed away...my father came to my room to
break the news to me. As I lay
sadly in bed, I couldn't help but remember the voice of the Great Prince of the
mother can't be with you anymore."
can't even say whether it's too much or too soon for a young child to comprehend
such things, especially offered up in the format of an animated cartoon.
But I guess the point is that from the time I first saw Bambi, a
part of me was aware that someday, even though it was a long ways away, I too
would know the loss of a parent as part of the great mysterious progress of
I don't mean to begin this review in such a heavy handed fashion.
Bambi is, first and foremost, a delightfully colorful and
artistically rich animated film, made in an era where artists still put pencil
to paper. The detail in every
glorious scene is unimaginably painstaking, and every imaginative touch was
lovingly crafted by hand. Truth be told, it's one of Disney's lightest offerings ever
in terms of story and character. But
none of his films were as deeply beautiful to look at.
story opens in spring, when the young deer prince Bambi is born.
We see the magic of new life through his tender first steps, his first
feeble words, and his playful experiences with his new friends, including
Thumper the rabbit and Flower the skunk. And
we also learn that life in the forest isn't all beauty and joy, particularly
when Bambi's mother speaks the passage quoted above...a phrase that still gives
audiences chills to this day. But
we learn it even more in the wintertime, when Bambi's mother is taken from him
by a hunter. The scene where his father breaks the news is one of the most
lyrically sad in the history of motion pictures.
death is hardly the end of the story...though for me, not much that follows that
stark scene is memorable. The
grown-up versions of Bambi, Thumper and Flower aren't particularly memorable,
despite the exciting forest fire finale (and what a fire...the whole forest
seems to go up faster than you can say "controlled burn"!).
I suppose there's a circle of life lesson to be learned from the film,
but it was stated more eloquently, if not as artistically, fifty years later
with The Lion King.
Walt's vision of a colorful and richly detailed forest story was enough of an
achievement to make Bambi the highest grossing film of the 1940s, as well
as an instant classic and perennial fan favorite.
I only hope today's youth weaned on the limitless visual splendor of
computer animated movies will be able to appreciate what animation once was, and
how much work went into crafting a picture like Bambi, and most of all,
how glorious the results are even after more than six decades.
BONUS TRIVIA: Cammie King Conlon, who was the voice of the young Faline, was also Bonnie Blue Butler in Gone With the Wind. She still jokes to this day that her career peaked at age 5!
a revelation...I dare say this movie hasn't looked so good since it first graced
the screen! Disney did a thorough
job of restoring and transferring this classic for digital media.
The colors are so vibrant they practically leap off the screen at you.
The detail level, as mentioned, is quite formidable, and not one iota of
it is lost in this presentation. Images
are sharp and crisp throughout, and I really couldn't find any telltale signs
that would give away the movie's age. Simply
with previous Platinum Edition DVD releases, Disney has presented Bambi with
an enhanced home theatre mix that will get the most out of your sound system.
Unlike some of the more chronologically recent films, though, this
started with a mono soundtrack, so the sound technicians didn't overdo it.
The audio is clean and clear and very dynamic, with the .1 channel giving
potency to the sound effects. The
rear stage is used for minimal bits of ambience, but there's no overkill here.
The original score sounds full and rich,
almost like a live orchestra in your living room. For purists, a
restored version of the original mono soundtrack is also included.
two disc set boasts a bevy of extras...Disc One features a rather unique one; a
re-creation of the original story meetings conducted by Walt and his staff!
Voiceovers bring the text to life, and we see on screen what the artists
are discussing so we can actually witness the evolution of the movie over its
six year period of gestation.
Two features 8 new games for the kids, including a forest adventure, trivia, and
memory test. A "DisneyPedia"
takes a look at the real life versions of Bambi and his friends.
"Thumper Goes Exploring" is a Disney Storytime extra you can
read to yourself or along with Friend Owl.
There's also a 1942 time capsule, a terrific 53 minute making-of
documentary, a sneak peek at the sequel Bambi And the Great Prince of the
Forest (okay, I gotta ask...is a sequel really necessary?), plus two deleted
scenes (storyboards with new voiceovers). The
virtual forest isn't much...just an active still shot.
out is the original trailer (which focuses entirely on the ADULT Bambi...what
marketing genius made that decision?), a "Tricks of the Trade" excerpt
from 1957 where Walt discusses the multi-plane camera, the Oscar winning short
"The Old Mill", and a look through the Disney archives and the art of
NOTE: Many of the extras are hosted
by Patrick Stewart.