A great love story.
Bambi is a 1942 animated musical drama film directed by David Hand, written by Perce Pearce, produced by Walt Disney Productions, and distributed by RKO Radio Pictures. It is based off of Felix Salten's 1923 novel, Bambi, A Life in the Woods. The film stars Donnie Dunagan and Paula Winslowe. It was nominated for Best Original Score, Best Original Song, and Best Sound, but did not win any of them. This is the first film in the Bambi franchise. It was followed by Bambi II. A live-action remake is in development. In 2011, the film was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically" significant.
"Wake up! Wake up!" - Thumper
Young roe deer Bambi is born in the woods. As he grows up, he sees how the world of nature works and experiences tragedy, triumph, and eventually learns how to take his place as prince of the forest.
Bambi: Quick Thoughts
Bambi finishes off the Disney Golden Age with a whimper, unfortunately.
This film feels very much like The Lion King if all the energy was sucked out of it. None of the songs here are memorable. There isn't much of a story. It has the circle of life theme about it, but they don't really do anything interesting to explore it. Instead, this movie feels like a Fantasia-esc movie wrapped in a Disney story skin. What it really is is Disney just wanting to show off how cool they can animate their movies while using synchronized sound to give you the full experience.
While of course beautiful to look at, Bambi is an empty, dull story about a deer living life in the forest. The only thing that anyone ever remembers about this movie is that Bambi's mom dies, because it's such a shocking moment in a film that is so light on any weight or drama. It's the only good story element that I can identify in this movie. Besides that, it's just animation with no soul.
However, to give one more positive, I will say that I really like what they did with the villain here. "Man" is the main antagonist of Bambi, and the way that they portray Man is genius. Man obviously implies that a human hunter is the force to be reckoned with, yet we never see this hunter, because we are Man. We are the villains of Bambi. That's such a deep and interesting concept that really makes you think. I wish Bambi had more elements like that.
But besides Man and Bambi's mother's death, this movie is just a snoozefest. Sure, there are a few memorable characters. Thumper is fun. I liked Friend Owl. But overall, this movie just doesn't really have anything interesting about it. This is the first movie in the Disney Rewatch that I'm watching for the first time, so that could definitely be part of it. I have no nostalgia for this film, so I found it incredibly boring and uninspired.
The Disney Evaluation
Bambi is considered a Disney classic, but, when you think about it, it doesn't really have much of the iconic Disney charm. There aren't many iconic Disney characters. There certainly aren't any great, classic Disney songs. Sure, it has one of the most memorable and traumatizing deaths in any Disney movie, but that isn't enough to make a bona fide Disney classic. It just needed more meat to be the truly great movie that some people make it out to be.
I'll give it a Sword in the Stone.
THE DISNEY SCALE
Mickey Mouse (Top Tier Disney)
Genie's Lamp (Great Disney)
Glass Slipper (Good Disney)
Sword in the Stone (Bad Disney) Poison Apple (Terrible Disney)
Family Factor: 5.5/10
Disney Imagery: 6/10
Final Thoughts and Score
Bambi is a dull, empty end to the first era of Disney filmmaking. If it had more of a story, it'd probably be a lot better, but as is, this is not one of Disney's best.
I will go Sour here. Age range is 6+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
Fun Factor: 4.5/10
Directed by David Hand
Released on August 21, 1942
Rated G for disturbing themes and images, thematic elements
1 hour and 10 minutes
Donnie Dunagan as Bambi
Paula Winslowe as Bambi's Mother
Hardie Albright as Adult Bambi
Peter Behn as Thumper
Tim Davis as Adolescent Thumper, Adolescent Flower
Sam Edwards as Adult Thumper
Sterling Holloway as Adult Flower
Will Wright as Friend Owl
Fred Shields as The Great Prince of the Forest
Cammie King as Faline
Ann Gills as Adult Faline