Nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Music – Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, Bambi is a true animated classic of the silver screen. Long before the public’s introduction to Aladdin, The Lion King, or Finding Nemo, Walt Disney single-handedly conjured the full-length animated feature film out of nothing and into an enduring, well-respected genre – creating one family classic after another, starting with Snow White (1937) then Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940), and Dumbo (1941) before creating this gem in 1942.
Directed by David Hand, a longtime Disney animator and supervising director of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, Bambi is a masterpiece of color, motion, and the beauty of life. Its relative simplicity harkens to a time long past when such movies focused on symbolism, emotional breadth, and challenging the boundaries of artistic creativity.
Instead of catering to a perceived audience demographic. The result is a truly remarkable and memorable family experience.
Bambi begins with the forest birth of a young fawn (Bambi) who comes into the world surrounded by an anxious crowd of admirers. Hailed as the “great prince of the forest,” Bambi is thrust into an exotic world of animal and plant life, complete with all the highs and lows experienced in the world of reality.
One of the film’s most powerful scenes (and the one most often referenced in regard to Bambi) is when the dreaded “man” (i.e. a band of hunters) enters the forest and kills Bambi’s mother.
Although the scene takes place off camera, Disney manages to convey all the emotional trauma of the event in the brevity of a few bold and powerful brushstrokes.
As Bambi seeks to recover from his mother’s death, he must learn to grow from a fumbling fawn into a fearless buck. The charming scenes of Bambi bumbling across a frozen pond are soon overshadowed by the power of his maturation into a formidable leader. Assisting him on his journey is a parade of unique personalities, the most notable of whom is a rabbit named Thumper.
Thumper’s vocal velocity and eagerness to befriend Bambi threaten to steal the show, but the growing deer never loses his deserved spotlight. Throw in a skunk named Flower and a beautiful doe named Faline (Bambi’s love interest), and the film comes together in its own right, creating a combination of tragedy and triumph all ages can enjoy…
In stark contrast to its contemporary peers, Bambi is a refreshing exit from today’s highly commercial animated features. Although Thumper provides the necessary comic relief, the film is more than just a deluge of juvenile one-liners – and boasts absolutely zero fart jokes. Instead, Bambi wraps a timeless story of a life’s journey to adulthood in the majesty that is mother nature.
Its ingenious illustration of a forest teeming with wildlife and the dangers encountered by its inhabitants is truly awe-inspiring.
In short, Bambi has all the makings of a tinsel-town classic – one that should make today’s Disney creations utterly green with envy.
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