Bambi (1942)

“Man was in the forest.”

Bambi Poster

Synopsis:
A young fawn named Bambi comes of age in the forest, threatened by the presence of men.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary seems less than impressed by this iconic Disney film, arguing that “the attempt to establish realism doesn’t work because the animals are too humanized,” that many of the animals’ voices are “annoying”, and that the film as a whole is “too sentimental for many viewers and too gentle for others.” I disagree. While the storyline of Bambi is extremely simple (the filmmakers relied on Felix Salten’s original novel more for inspiration than narrative), it manages to hold interest throughout, thanks in large part to the beautiful animation. I wasn’t bothered by the use of children’s voices for the young animals (Peter Behn as young Thumper is particularly impressive), and found the mix of “human” eyes and realistic animal movements to work just fine (note how nicely the animators capture the deer’s spindly legs in motion). There are countless memorable moments in this fine children’s film, which is guaranteed to appeal to (most) adults as well.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Thumper reluctantly apologizing for teasing Bambi
    Thumper
  • Bambi learning to ice skate
    Iceskating
  • Beautiful animation of changing seasons
    Snow

Must See?
Yes. This classic Disney feature should be seen at least once by all film fanatics.

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2 Responses to “Bambi (1942)”

  1. A must.

    Very much in agreement with the assessment here, and rather surprised by Peary’s complaints; he seems to make too much of what the film actually is.

    Not having seen ‘Bambi’ in quite a long time, I was intrigued – particularly in the second half – by its often startling (and dark) imagery and its depiction of the urge to mate (deer fighting over, essentially, ‘getting a piece’; as well, there’s a Chuck Jones tone when the animals get frisky).

    Also remarkable (in the stunning restored print available) are the backgrounds and their shadings – what terrific color composition! Esp. stunning in this regard is the storm sequence early on (wonder how maddening that must have been to create).

    Could ‘Bambi’ have been spearheaded by a vegetarian? Or is the story, in part, a cry against killing for sport? Not wanting to make too much of it myself, it’s most likely a simple portrait of the life cycle of woodland creatures – and, yes, a terrific film for adults to watch with kids (esp. those who are bound to have questions).

  2. I’ve always thought Danny Peary was wrong about this one. It’s an extraordinary film, a true classic in the most meaningful sense. In his recent biography, Walt Disney, Neal Gabler describes the amazing efforts put in by the animators and by Walt himself to craft this stunning film. Your Response Review suggests, see it “at least once” — but I say see it again and again to appreciate not only the beautiful, touching story but also the unmatched artistry of the animation.

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