Film Review: Bambi (1942)

*All reviews contain spoilers*

Disclaimer: This blog is purely recreational and not for profit. Any material, including images and/or video footage, is property of their respective companies, unless stated otherwise. The author claims no ownership of this material. The opinions expressed therein reflect those of the author and are not to be viewed as factual documentation. All screencaps are from Disneyscreencaps.com.

Cast

Hardie Albright – Adolescent Bambi

Stan Alexander – Young Flower

Peter Behn – Young Thumper

Thelma Boardman – Girl Bunny, Quail Mother and Female Pheasant

Marion Darlington – Birds

Tim Davis – Adult Thumper and Adolescent Flower

Donnie Dunagan – Young Bambi

Sam Edwards – Adult Thumper

Ann Gillis – Adult Faline

Otis Harlan – Mr. Mole

Sterling Holloway – Adult Flower (I never realised Holloway was in this!)

Cammie King Conlon – Young Faline (She was in Gone With the Wind, as the Butler’s daughter)

Mary Lansing – Aunt Ena (Faline’s mum) and Mrs. Possum

Clarence Nash – Bullfrog (not certain)

Fred Shields – Great Prince of the Forest (Bambi’s dad)

Bobby Stewart – Baby Bambi

John Sutherland – Adult Bambi

Paula Winslowe – Bambi’s mother and a pheasant

Will Wright – Friend Owl

Additional voices: Bobette Audrey, Janet Chapman, Jeanne Christy, Dolyn Bramston Cook, Eddie Holden, Jack Horner, Babs Nelson, Sandra Lee Richards, Francesca Santoro and Elouise Wohlwend

Sources of InspirationBambi, a Life in the Woods, an Austrian novel by Felix Salten, 1923

Release Dates

August 8th / 9th, 1942 in London, UK (world premiere)

August 13th, 1942 in New York City, USA (US premiere)

August 21st, 1942 (general release)

Run-time – 70 minutes

Directors – David Hand (supervising), James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, Graham Heid, Bill Roberts, Paul Satterfield and Norman Wright

Composers – Frank Churchill and Edward H. Plumb

Worldwide Gross – $267 million

Accolades – 5 wins and 6 nominations, including 3 Oscar nominations


1942 in History

Failure of the German attempt to take Moscow, Operation Typhoon

Nazis formulate their “Final Solution”

Bełżec extermination camp opens; up to 500,000 Jews are believed to have been killed here

Sobibór also opens – at least 250,000 more Jews died there

The Battle of the Coral Sea occurs; the two opposing fleets never sighted one another

The first African-American seamen are taken into the US Navy

Anne Frank makes her first diary entry on her 13th birthday

The Battle of Stalingrad begins

The Manhattan Project is begun

Casablanca premieres in New York City

Births of Stephen Hawking, Muhammad Ali, Aretha Franklin, Barbara Streisand, Paul McCartney, Harrison Ford and Jimi Hendrix


 

We come at last to the end of Disney’s “Golden Age” with this, their fifth feature, Bambi. This was Walt’s baby; he nurtured it for a good five years before it finally came to fruition. After the simplicity of Dumbo, this film marked a return to form for Disney, with lots of expensive multiplane camera shots and fancy artwork, although sadly this wasn’t enough for the film to make a profit on its initial release and, like its brethren before it, it lost money (largely because of the war).

Snow White was a fantasy, while Pinocchio leant towards horror and Fantasia was arthouse. Bambi could be seen as Disney’s take on a nature documentary, six years before they took on actual nature documentaries with their True-Life Adventures series. The painstaking work progressed very slowly, with sometimes less than a second of footage being produced per day, and work was often slowed further by the other film commitments the studio had at the time – it was on a skeleton crew until the completion of Fantasia, at least. Ultimately, their efforts paid off; it was said to be one of Walt’s favourites of all their films and has since been embraced by the world at large, too.

The idea of using this popular 1920s novel for one of their films was brought to Disney by Sidney Franklin, an MGM producer and director who specialised in adapting literary works. Franklin had bought the book rights in 1933, a few years after the first English translation became available, but eventually decided that the technology of the time simply wasn’t good enough to create the film the way he wanted. He then had the brilliant idea of handing the rights over to the Disney Company, believing that it would be easier to make Bambi as an animated feature. This was in 1937; it’s a sign of how busy the studio was that proper production on the film didn’t even begin until 1939. Still, they did get there in the end, and animation enthusiasts are very glad they did, as we have this exquisite film to enjoy today because of their dedication.

This would be the last high-quality, full-length feature the studio would make until the start of the 1950s – all of their next ones are package films – so let’s make the most of it!

 

Characters and Vocal Performances

Bambi himself, like most of the Disney leads at the time, is a bit of an everyman – or, “everydeer,” if you like. He is kept deliberately ordinary and is apparently only the main character because his father happens to be the leader of the herd, a position which he will go on to inherit himself. Bambi is essentially a recognizable little boy in the form of a white-tailed deer, and his character is all the more effective for that. We can relate to him as he takes his first cautious steps into life, learning about his world with the help of his friends and his mother – Felix Salten, the author of the original novel, supposedly got the name “Bambi” from the Italian word bambino, which basically means “little boy”. The choice of name feels similar to that of Simba in The Lion King, whose name is simply Swahili for lion, but the two are very different; Bambi has none of young Simba’s cockiness or arrogance. Bambi’s friends, particularly Thumper, are given more than their share of personality in the film; in fact, Bambi feels very reminiscent of Pinocchio in some ways, as they both share a tendency towards passivity. Both of them are led about by their friends and don’t often make decisions for themselves. However, the key difference is that Bambi’s story doesn’t end in his childhood – we also get to see him grow up, in every sense. The end of his childish passivity can be pinpointed precisely to the moment where he decides to defend Faline and fights Ronno for her, asserting himself as an adult for the first time. By the end of the film, his character arc is complete; he has grown into a proud stag like his father, who steps aside to let the young prince inherit his territory – independent at last.

Young Bambi

 

The stag, known as “The Great Prince of the Forest” by the other deer, is strongly reflective of the differences in parenting styles over the last seventy-odd years. He is grand and imposing, but remote and emotionally detached, with little involvement in his son’s life until after the mother’s death. He functions almost like a Greek chorus, offering counsel in times of hardship, but it’s hard to picture him frolicking or having any fun! He was given a deliberately flat, deadpan sort of voice and very little dialogue to make him seem even more inaccessible – to compare once again with The Lion King (which was partly inspired by this film), you can really feel the difference in attitudes towards children by the time we get to Mufasa, who is fun and engaged in his son’s life, while still maintaining authority and respect.

Great prince of the forest

Bambi’s mother, by contrast, is somewhat better developed than the previous Disney mother (Dumbo’s). She serves as her son’s teacher and protector, and the fact that we actually get to know her a little only makes her death all the more potent when it comes. She has a warm, motherly voice, and treats everybody in the forest – even cheeky little Thumper – with kindness and respect. We love her as Bambi does, and grieve for her when she’s gone. She may be calm and sweet, but she is capable of being stern with Bambi when need be, and hearing the panic in her voice in her final moments is particularly affecting because it’s such a sharp contrast with her usual demeanour. Her death has become one of the most famous scenes in cinematic history, causing untold heartache to a whole generation of children. It could have been even worse; the original book was most definitely not for children, and originally the plan was to have Bambi discover his mother’s bloodied corpse! Thankfully, Larry Morey made the wise decision to have the death occur off-screen, leaving the details to the viewer’s imagination, a technique which would prove effective in many later films like Jaws (another classic which owes a debt to Bambi).

Bambi's mother

Also left unseen are the “villains” of the piece, identified only as “Man.” This simple word is enough to convey all of the necessary impact, as the viewers will of course be very familiar with mankind, being a part of it themselves! Bambi, as both a novel and a film, is very environmentally friendly, representing one of the earliest modern instances of such a story. With humans being at the top of the food chain, it made sense that they would be cast as the antagonists here, but this was dangerous ground to tread. In the 1940s, hunting was a much more popular pastime than it is today, and Walt had to be very careful not to offend the many prominent hunting associations with his portrayal of man here (it reminds me of him stepping on eggshells with the hard-core Creationists when making Rite of Spring in Fantasia). The original plan was apparently to have Bambi and his father find the charred corpses of some men in the forest, after the fire (good grief) but this was understandably considered too dark for what is, after all, a children’s film.

Thankfully, we have Bambi’s friends Thumper and Flower to ensure the film never gets too dark. Thumper really steals the show, especially as a child – Walt made the then-unusual choice to cast actual children in the roles, as opposed to adults doing imitations of them, and it works splendidly. Peter Behn’s timing and delivery are absolutely hilarious and keep Thumper from being annoying, as such a character easily could have been. He’s precocious and cheeky, but he’s also really relatable, more so even than Bambi – my favourite moments of his are when his mother is chastising him and he begins to lazily recite moral lessons from his father with a glazed look in his eyes. Who didn’t sometimes roll their eyes at their parents’ advice when they were his age? When Thumper asks Bambi’s mother what she’s going to name him, I was suddenly reminded of a nearly identical scene from Tarzan, decades later, in which Turk asks Kala the same thing – perhaps this scene was inspiration for that one.

They call me Thumper
“That’s why they call me Thumper!”

Neither Thumper nor Flower was in the original novel; in typical Disney fashion, they were added to the film mainly to serve as comic relief. Although this doesn’t always work (I’m looking at you, Hunchback of Notre Dame), it’s an excellent choice here – it really wouldn’t be Bambi without little Thumper. Flower, by comparison, is a bit of a strange inclusion, as he doesn’t really add much to the story and only appears in four scenes. Thumper and Flower as a duo remind me a lot of Figaro and Cleo from Pinocchio, with one of them proving memorable and the other… well… The most notable thing about Flower is, funnily enough, his gender. Many first-time viewers of the film are stunned to learn that Flower is, in fact, a boy – he is presented in an oddly feminine way, hiding shyly in a field of flowers, and he seems awfully flattered when Bambi accidentally “compliments” him as he gives him his nickname while trying to learn what a flower is. What exactly was the point in having him appear so, well… gay? I mean, I’m not complaining; it’s refreshing to see such an untraditional male character in such an early film, and he even ends up happily married! It just seems so random, that’s all. In another parallel with Tarzan, a new generation would be equally confused over the gender of the gorilla, Terk (she’s a girl!) – I feel like if Bambi gets a live-action remake, Flower will probably be made openly gay. And after all, why not?

Flower
The gender-fluid Flower

Of the remaining characters, the two most significant are Friend Owl and Faline. Friend Owl serves almost entirely as comic relief; his only plot function is to teach the adolescent animals about “twitterpation.” Despite this, he’s a welcome addition to the film and a surprisingly rich character; he seems grumpy and frumpy on the outside, but his reaction to Bambi’s birth (and later, the birth of Bambi’s children) shows us all we need to know about his good heart. He gets some of the funniest animation in the film, such as when he “walks on air” during the twitterpated scene, or when he interrupts the Gay Little Spring Song with an almighty “HOO HOO!” He was also apparently based on popular comedian Hugh Herbert, for any fans of his out there!

Friend owl
“You’re knocked for a LOOP! You’re head’s in a whirrrrrrl!”

Faline is the love interest, and I’m not going to waste too much time complaining about the fact that this is her only real function in the film, because it was simply a different time. Even if she is only there to act as Bambi’s “prize,” she’s certainly more fleshed out than the creepily seductive bunny who ends up with Thumper! (Seriously, what was up with that?) We first meet Faline, with Bambi, in childhood, and she is lively and spirited, more so than the “bashful” Bambi anyhow. Later, when they meet again as adolescents, she comes across as more mature than Bambi and it is she who makes the first move – only when her “honour” is threatened by Ronno does Bambi finally make a move himself. One thing I’ve always wondered about is who Faline’s father is. Her mother seems to be part of the same herd as Bambi’s mother, so surely this means that the “Great Prince” sired her? He is their leader, after all. Maybe it’s best not to think about it too much. Bambi and Faline may be cousins, as might Simba and Nala in The Lion King, but then again, this is Disney: they wouldn’t willingly include incest in a story, so let’s just assume Faline’s dad is from another herd!

Faline adult

 

Animation

Walt tended to be very ambitious with animation in the early films, and this one is no exception. To teach his artists how to properly animate animals, he brought in Italian-American painter and sculptor Rico Lebrun, who was very enthusiastic: at one point, he got a fawn carcass from the Forestry Service and carefully analysed and dissected it, while the animators gagged at the stench. A pair of real fawns was brought in from Maine and formed the core of a small “zoo” on the studio lot, filled with animals for the animators to sketch and study (the two were named Bambi and Faline, and were later released in nearby Griffith Park). This really paid off, as the deer animation in the final film is very fluid and naturalistic in style; you can really see the improvement if you compare Jim Algar’s deer in Snow White to these ones.

 

Instead of the usual process of assigning individual animators to individual characters, for Bambi, the film was animated in stages and scenes, with multiple animators working on the characters throughout production. An early female animator, Retta Scott, is largely responsible for the dog chase sequence, while Marc Davis handled many of Bambi’s scenes. Bambi’s movements as a child were modelled on those of real human babies (notice his large, rounded head and eyes) and the effect is whimsical and charming; I especially love the part where Thumper is trying to teach him to say “bird,” and as Bambi tries, he mimics Thumper down to the nose twitch! One particularly tough problem for the animators was the antlers of the stag – no matter how talented the artist, nobody could manage to draw them correctly from different angles as he turned his head. To solve this, a plaster miniature of his head was created, and this, combined with a rotoscope machine, enabled the animators to trace the antlers onto each frame, maintaining their complicated structure with nary a shimmy to be seen. Although the cast are all animals, that didn’t stop Disney from bringing in professional skater Donna Atwood and actress Jane Randolph to model for the ice skating sequence – anatomical precision was a high priority for the artists, and they did everything they could to make sure they achieved it.

Ice skating bambi

As with the preceding films, there are plenty of luxurious multiplane shots used to show off Bambi’s exquisite forest home. This may have upped the budget, but like a Hollywood John Hammond, Walt “spared no expense” when it came to his films. Some of the effects seen in the earlier films, like fire, rain and snow, are used far more extensively here than ever before – the fire in particular is hypnotic, with a painterly quality to it that you just don’t see in today’s more “polished” and computer-assisted animated films. There’s even a brief return to abstract expressionism at one point during the fight between Ronno and Bambi; if you look closely, you’ll see that when Ronno is winning, the colours of the scene are green, blue and black, but when Bambi’s winning, they’re yellow, orange and pink.

Abstract deer fight

The animation from this film left quite a legacy – it’s been re-used in more Disney films than animation from any other. Look out for cameos by Bambi’s mother in The Sword in the Stone (where she’s the quarry of Arthur and Kay), The Jungle Book (where she’s the quarry of Shere Khan), The Rescuers and Beauty and the Beast (where she has brief cameos as part of the scenery).

 

Plot

The plot of Bambi is very simple – it is basically just the life cycle of a deer, with an animated flourish. To get a bit stuffier about it, it’s technically a Bildungsroman, or “coming-of-age” story, following Bambi through his formative years. As I mentioned above, the original novel was quite dark and scary, not at all the sort of material you’d think of when considering an adaptation for a children’s film, yet somehow the Disney staff worked their magic and made it work. (It has been suggested that the novel might even have been intended as an allegory of Jewish persecution by the Nazis, who predictably banned the book in 1936). In the Disney version, the theme is, at its root, the passing of innocence – symbolised in the harshest way by the loss of a parent. According to one story, the death of Bambi’s mother came close to being cut, after a disappointing test screening of the film in February 1942 – some daft teenager in the audience set everyone laughing by calling out “Here I am, Bambi!” as the character calls for his mother, following her death. Although the staff were dispirited by this, Walt insisted the scene be kept – a wise choice.

Not so wise, perhaps, was the decision to transition abruptly into Gay Little Spring Song right afterwards, creating a sort of “mood whiplash” which leaves some viewers confused, and sets others laughing hysterically. It was obviously done as a way of attempting to prevent the children of the time from getting too upset, but from a modern standpoint, it seems far too blunt, not leaving you enough time to really get over the drama of the previous scene. Perhaps a scenic transitional montage or something would have worked better? The twitterpated part is also a bit dated and is, in my opinion, the film’s weakest segment (although it does give Friend Owl a chance to shine). According to Wiktionary, the word was actually first used in the film, and basically means “confused head.”

There are also a few minor factual flaws but these can be easily treated as artistic license, since sticking to them rigidly would have spoiled the film. Skunks don’t actually hibernate in winter, although they do slow down and sleep a lot more. Rabbits and skunks also unfortunately have much shorter lives than deer, living an average of three to five years in the wild, compared to a deer’s fifteen or more – this means that by the time Bambi is siring fawns at the end of the film, Thumper and Flower would in all likelihood be long dead! I also get a bit confused by the rather clunky time-skip just before the twitterpated scene – where on earth has Bambi been for all this time? He’s been gone so long that he struggles to recognise some of his now-adult friends, but it’s not like white-tails migrate (at least not far, and certainly not for years on end). What’s he been getting up to in the forest on his own?

Bambi fawns
It’s the cirrrrrrcle of liiiiiiiife…

The film wraps up in the same manner as The Lion King would years later – both films begin and end with a birth, completing the circle of life and the arc of their respective stories.

 

Cinematography

This is a really luscious film. Much like Pocahontas, its strength lies in its visuals, and no wonder: the artists put a lot of work into getting the atmosphere of a “real” forest right, with some, such as Maurice Day, even going on a seven-month trip to the forests of Maine and Vermont for research (location trips like this would become common during later Disney film productions). The predominant artistic influence in Bambi was Tyrus Wong, a fantastic Chinese-American artist who lived to the grand old age of 106 (he passed away just last year, poor bloke, but what an amazingly long life!). Wong’s primary influences were the classical Chinese paintings of the Song Dynasty, with their spare styling and “suggestion” of places rather than stark depictions of them, which you can really see in the backgrounds. The detail is kept towards the centre rather than the edges, drawing the viewer’s eye to the characters and the action. Perhaps the most effective use of this is in Bambi’s den, where we often see him snuggled up with his mother, surrounded by dense bushes which lend the scenes a cosy feel – at least until after the mother’s death, where we see Bambi alone and frightened in the same spot, now washed out in cold, bleak colours, driving home the message that his mother isn’t coming back. As well as Wong, other influences included Beatrix Potter (mainly with the design of the smaller creatures like the rabbits) and Sir Edwin Landseer, who was known for his majestic depictions of horses and deer.

Bambi background #1Bambi background #2Bambi background #3Bambi background #4Bambi background #5Bambi background #6Bambi background #7

Landseer
The Monarch of the Glen, Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, 1851
Ma Lin
Listening to the Wind, Ma Lin, 1246

Staging is used to great effect throughout the film; when the Great Prince makes his first appearance on the meadow, we see a simple shot of him standing at the edge of the clearing, proud and still, as the other deer look to him from off screen. Compare this to the shots of the mother shortly beforehand, as she creeps cautiously out into the open – the camera is looking at her from a great distance, making her seem smaller and more vulnerable. Even the weather reflects her uncertainty, with a cool mist shrouding the area until she deems it safe for Bambi to join her.

Mother enters meadowHunters approach

Of course, the most famous use of staging is in the depiction of “Man” – he is never seen, his presence only suggested by the reactions of the other animals, the score and the camerawork. At the beginning of the infamous death scene, Bambi and his mother are peacefully eating spring grass in the meadow – all alone. The camera is positioned so that we, the viewers, are looking at the pair through the eyes of the hunters, and you can feel your heart begin to pound as it slowly begins to zoom in on them, closer, and closer, as the score builds ominously… Later, we also get the little-mentioned scene where a group of pheasants are hiding from the still unseen men as they approach. Only the haunting bass notes and the increasing panic of the one poor pheasant who “can’t stand it any longer” tell us of the danger near at hand. (I want to give a shout-out to the voice actress for this part; I’m not clear which of the listed pheasant voices she was, but her panic is tangible and really sells the scene perfectly).

Lighting is also a key part of the film’s charm, increasing the emotional intensity at various points, particularly in the second half of the film. Look at the intense, expressionist lighting used in Bambi’s fight with Ronno, then compare it to the soft, romanticised moonlight bathing Bambi and Faline in the following scene. When you try to imagine the scene in plain, flat daylight or darkness, you get a sense of how important lighting can be in getting across the mood. There’s also some more use of pathetic fallacy to heighten the storytelling, such as when Bambi’s father delivers the news of the mother’s death to the child – the thick snowfall in this scene obscures and isolates Bambi and reflects his feelings of loneliness and confusion. The minimalist approach to music and dialogue in the scene only increases these feelings.

Bambi in snow death

 

Soundtrack

There’s a touch of tragedy woven into the history of Bambi’s soundtrack. Troubled composer Frank Churchill sadly took his own life shortly before the film’s release, in May 1942 – apparently, he had wanted to dedicate Love is a Song to his beloved wife Carolyn, but Walt was forced to deny him this as the song had already gone to the publisher at that point. After struggling with depression and a drinking problem, as well as the deaths of several close friends in a short space of time, Churchill must have been in a very dark place. For Carolyn and his friends at the studio, it must have been a crushing loss – he was just forty years old.

Love is a Song is a heart-warming 1940s-style crooner ballad sung by Donald Novis, and is interwoven throughout the score as a sort of leitmotif for Bambi, being played in full only at the start of the film. Knowing Churchill’s feelings on the song, it is hard not to be moved by it, though it is admittedly a little dated, reminding me of the much cheesier One Song from Snow White.

Little April Shower is a gentle and melodic composition, which builds to a powerful midsection and is used to great effect to show off the film’s animation and Bambi’s reaction to the terrors of a storm. Strings, percussion and the voices of the choir are inventively used to evoke the sound of wind, rain and lightning. It fits well with the nature theme of the piece and is probably my favourite song of the film.

Who doesn’t secretly love Let’s Sing a Gay Little Spring Song? Sure, it’s a bit inappropriate, and yes, we all get the unintended pun in the name, but it’s just so much fun – it’s one of those songs that puts a big, stupid grin on your face every time it comes on. There’s a lot of woodwind used to mimic birdsong in it, but the real highlight are the singers, who are clearly having a “gay old time” singing it.

Gay little spring song

Loquats_and_Mountain_Bird
Loquats and Mountain Bird, Anonymous Southern Song artist

The other main song is Looking for Romance (I Bring You a Song), which plays over Bambi and Faline’s romantic evening during their “twitterpation.” It’s sweet, if a little generic, but that’s about all there is to say about it – it’s not something you’ll be humming once the film’s over, that’s for sure.

The score in general is well-suited to the material, with a minimalistic vibe to it; there is never any music just for music’s sake. The simple three-note “Man” theme in particular stands out as the best section, with some critics suggesting that it may have served as inspiration for the famous John Williams Jaws theme years later (Spielberg is a confirmed Disney fan, so it could certainly be true!). Another highlight is the scene on the meadow where the deer prance, leap and rut in time with the percussion in the score, showcasing nature at its best.

The writing is kept very tight with only about 1,000 words spoken in the whole film (I bet nearly half of those are Thumper’s!). The adult voice actors are a bit generic and dated, if truth be told, but the kids – especially Behn – are wonderful. The delivery of lines like “Gee whiz, what happened that time?” or “What did your father tell you?” “…‘Bout what?” always get me giggling. I’m so glad Walt decided to cast real kids; an adult could never have captured that unique cockiness a young boy has when he thinks he knows everything.

 

Final Verdict

Once again, Walt was faced with the frustrating problem of having his latest masterpiece be met with a lukewarm reception, for reasons beyond his control. Not only was war still raging throughout Europe, the USA had now joined in, too – and audiences of the time didn’t have the inclination to sit through an animated nature documentary, preferring his earlier flights of fancy. The film suffered a slight loss, making back $1.64 million of its $1.7 million budget on its initial release (it would later make up the rest on its first rerelease in 1947).

The attempts to avoid the wrath of the hunters didn’t entirely work; Raymond Brown criticised the film’s “anti-hunting” stance (in his opinion, anyway) in a 1942 edition of Outdoor Life, and the piece also drew protest from the American gun lobby for its supposed demonization of hunters. On the other hand, the environmental themes sparked a new generation’s interest in protecting the world’s animals – Paul McCartney has cited Bambi as the beginning of his interest in animal rights, and the characters of Bambi were loaned to the government for a year to be used in fire prevention campaigns (after the loan expired, Smokey Bear was created to continue this tradition).

The film also inspired other animators, such as Marv Newland, who produced the famous comic short Bambi Meets Godzilla in 1969, and also the creators of The Lion King in 1994, which was pitched as “Bambi in Africa.” There are asteroids named after Bambi (15845 Bambi, 1995) and Thumper (16626 Thumper, 1993), and two of the henchwomen in the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds are Forever also share the monikers.

The film was rereleased in 1947, 1957, 1966 (the last rerelease of a Disney film in Walt’s lifetime), 1975, 1982 and 1988, before making its debut on home video in 1989. It also has the dubious distinction of being the oldest Disney classic to have a direct-to-video sequel – released in 2006, Bambi II holds the world record for the longest gap between film instalments at a whopping sixty-four years!

As for me, although Bambi has never been a favourite due to its rather slow pacing and lack of plot, I still really enjoy it for its artistry and iconic moments, and I would recommend seeing it at least once to get a feel for what the best animation of the war period was like. This draws my reviews of the Golden Age to a close – from here on out, we’re into the Package Era!

 

My Rating – 4/5


References

I consulted my own books to research for this review, as well as some standard web sources:

The World History of Animation (2011) by Stephen Cavalier

The Art of Walt Disney (2011 ed.) by Christopher Finch

Once Upon a Time: Walt Disney (2007) edited by Bruno Girveau

Encyclopedia of Walt Disney’s Animated Characters (1998 ed.) by John Grant

Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life (1981) by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas

Disney’s Art of Animation: From Mickey Mouse to Hercules (1997 ed.) by Bob Thomas

By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3891543 – credit for film poster

By Edwin Henry Landseer – https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/159116/monarch-glen-about-1851, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58221122 – credit for the Landseer

By Ma Lin – See http://www.npm.gov.tw/exh99/southernsong/jp_img_13.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17730352 – credit for the Lin

By Anonymous – http://depts.washington.edu/chinaciv/painting/4courbf.htm, Fu Sinian, ed., Zhongguo meishu quanji, huihua bian 4: Liang Song huihua, xia (Beijing: Wenwu chubanshe, 1988), pl. 96, p. 131. Collection of the National Palace Museum, Beijing., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3508092 – credit for Loquats and Mountain Bird

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/twitterpated – definition of twitterpated

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bambi  – wiki article

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034492/ – IMDB profile

Although I haven’t read this one myself, I’d also like to mention another volume on the making of the movie – Walt Disney’s Bambi: The Story and the Film (1990). It’s by the great Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas, who also authored the animator’s Bible – The Illusion of Life. Check their work out if you can!

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6 Replies to “Film Review: Bambi (1942)”

    1. Well spotted! I’ve corrected the note in the credits, and thanks for commenting 😀
      (Incidentally, I was wrong anyway because when I wrote this, June Foray was still with us – RIP June)

      Like

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