Walt Disney’s Bambi, which opened on Friday, August 21, 1942 at Radio City Music
accompanied by a live stage show, is an indisputable animated masterpiece based
upon Felix Salten’s 1923 novel of the same name. The story of a young fawn
growing up in the woods with his mother and cute animals in his midst, ty Bambi is not the sort of film that one
would normally associate with the Walt Disney name. As children, we are
introduced to the requisite characters who are synonymous with Disney and
labeled as “family entertainment” such as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, either
through television viewings, theatrical rereleases or VHS/laserdisc/DVD/Blu-ray
viewings. The overall general attitude of a Disney film is one of fun and joy,
although there are exceptions as some movies, such as Pinocchio (1940) and The
Rescuers (1977), have moments that are emotionally dark. Bambi is no traditional Disney movie,
and dare I say it’s a film that parents of very young and impressionable
children should honestly think twice about before permitting them to view it,
as introducing the notion of death to a youngster through a cartoon may prove
to be a life-changing event (to say nothing of the constant images of violence
that children are subjected to on television and on the Internet each day).
Bambi experiences the many things in
life that children experience: meeting and taking a liking to new friends
(Thumper the rabbit proves a good companion and teacher and a fellow fawn named
Faline proves to be a fun female friend) and making honest mistakes (labeling a
skunk “Flower” of all things). He is very close to his mother, but does not
realize that the Great Prince of the Forest, who protects the animals from Man,
specifically hunters, and is both revered and feared by the animals, is his real
father. His fortitude is tested when his mother is killed by the hunters and
his father reveals his identity to him. Bambi realizes that to survive one must
As the years go by, Bambi matures,
grows up and adapts to the environment. He now views the equally older Faline
as a potential romantic mate, and wards off a fellow buck, Ronno, who competes
for her affections. His childhood friends also find their own romantic mates,
and Bambi and Faline are blessed with twins as Bambi becomes the new Great
Prince of the Forest. As they said in 1994’s The Lion King, the circle of life.
The new, 75th anniversary Blu-ray of Bambi is a stunning production all around and contains these extras:
Celebrating Tyrus Wong – (Digital Exclusive) The most astonishing thing to me about Tyrus Wong the artist is not his beautiful background paintings that he created for Bambi, but the fact that he lived to be 106!! Incredible. Mr. Wong had retired from animation and decided to make kites.
Studio Stories: Bambi – Bambi, which is the fifth animated feature by Walt Disney, was also an animation technology watershed. This short piece presents archival recordings of Walt talking about the Multiplane Camera which was a new visual effect technique used in the film.
Deleted Scenes – These are not really deleted scenes as they are actually conceptual art and storyboards for two scenes that were never animated for the film.
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: Africa Before Dark – This is a short film that was thought to be lost but was discovered some years ago. It has been restored and is included here on video for the first time.
The Bambi Effect – This is a short piece on the impact that Bambi has made since it was released.
Bambi Fawn Facts – This is a guide to the real-life animals that appear in the film.
Deleted Scenes – This section consists of three sequences that were cut from the final film: Two Leaves, Bambi Stuck on a Reed, and Winter Grass.
Deleted Song – “Twitterpated”
The Making of Bambi: A Prince is Born – From 1994 comes this documentary containing interviews with Disney animators and provides an in-depth look at what went into making Bambi. The Lion King was in production at the time, so there is a comparison made – and just a little bit of self-promotion for good measure!
Tricks of Our Trade – This piece is a portion of a 1957 episode of the Disneyland television program which illustrates how the Multiplane Camera works. Fascinating stuff.
Inside the Disney Archives – We are given a tour of the Disney Animation Studios in addition to a look at artwork that was created from Bambi.
The Old Mill – The 1937 Silly Symphony cartoon that was created in order to test and try out some of the methods that were used to create Bambi, including the Multiplane Camera.
The Golden Age – a look at the film as it relates to the other Disney films that were made up until that point in time.