Bambi (1942)


Bambi, a young deer, enjoys life in the forest alongside his mother and friends. Unforeseen circumstances force Bambi to deal with some harsh realities.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“What happened, Mother? Why did we all run?”

In an era where hyperactivity is the norm, the deliberately paced Bambi doesn’t look like much. It doesn’t rely on big set-pieces, either. The movie’s lack of panache notwithstanding, this is one of Disney’s best-looking productions.

Bambi demonstrates that Disney was above all a first-rate storyteller. Not much happens here, but the movie holds your interest via mostly terrific imagery.

The depth of the drawings is still mindbogglingly good. The movie takes you (quite literally) inside the unseen world of wildlife. This is, of course, done without computers, and that makes the achievement all the more impressive. The delicacy of the colors, the detailed craftsmanship, all these elements make Bambi a little jewel.

The film doesn’t shy away from the cruel realities of nature. In addition to that, Bambi manages to make us believe that nothing exists beyond the forest, and the humanization of animals allows us to connect with their problems.

Because most of the story is told from the perspective of the offsprings, the film is on occasions a little too saccharine. But this, I think, worked to its advantage during the much darker second half. The gloominess comes as a shock precisely because it is preceded by scenes of joy and humor — tragedy is sudden and uncompromisingly sad.

The music and songs are like the film itself, blissful and very low-key. The Oscar-nominated tune “Love Is a Song” is the stand-out, but I also liked “Little April Shower,” “Let’s Sing a Gay Little Spring Song” and “Looking for Romance (I Bring You a Song),” all written by Frank Churchill (music) and Larry Morey (lyrics).

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Lamentably, all that matters to modern Disney is wooing the audience. Don’t get me wrong, I love lavish spectacles like Beauty and the Beast (1991) and The Lion King (1994), but I also love the company’s simpler, more nuanced productions which Bambi seems to exemplify. Watch it again and rediscover the movie’s magical combination of story, animation, and music. Color, 70 minutes, Not Rated.

6 responses to “Bambi (1942)

  1. It’s been ages since I’ve seen this one…possibly as far back as the early 1970s. I’ve watched the Disney ‘dog films’ (Lady and the Tramp, One Hundred and One Dalmations) many times, but Bambi I’ll have to give another look. Did you watch the Blu-ray version for this review?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Unfortunately, I don’t have the Blu-ray version. I watched the DVD Platinum Edition and it looked great! — the screenshots were taken directly from the DVD (I imagine the Blu-ray looks even better).

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Bambi is one of Disney’s most beautiful films, in my opinion, in terms of the animation and design. I agree the first half totally sets up the audience for the darker second half. To me, this film epitomizes the alleged Disney philosophy: “For every laugh, a tear.”

    Liked by 2 people

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