Well…This one surprised me, too. But in a very good way. I had only seen Bambi a few times as a kid and had never really understood it. And my, what an instructional, dark, and oddly inspiring movie it really is. It almost reminded me of Watership Down, but with much less terrifying images and more of a purpose. So, here we go, number cinq:
Some background: Bambi was released in 1942, just one year after Dumbo. At this point, one can tell that Walt Disney himself seems to have a fascination/interest in animals over humans. And you know what? I can’t blame him, especially after re-watching this movie. Disney also studied all the animals he featured in this movie, particularly deer. In fact, he brought a live deer to the set so he could watch his movements and behaviors. His dedication was top-notch for this one and it showed in the whole production.
Don’t be fooled by the happy-go-lucky pictures here. This movie is not all lighthearted. In fact, it is very consistently terrible and sad. However, both the lightheartedness at the beginning and end, as well as all the terrible, realistic parts in the middle, are extremely consistent. It is clear that the concept of this story is not only to preserve and protect nature, but to respect it. Every time something terrible happens, it is always caused by man. Man is the forerunner of danger, trouble, and death, which makes sense in a movie like this. But also, sadly, makes sense in real life as well. The movie is perfectly consistent from start to finish, with not a single step out of line. We see Bambi born, hear about the meaning behind his “Prince” title, join him as he discovers the forest and his new furry friends. We also witness the seasons change, and how the story is consistent with reality in terms of what would happen during those times. Then we see Bambi grow up, reconvene with his friends, and come into “season” during the spring time. The story is not only consistent with the seasons and the plot itself, but with how forest animals, particularly deer, act. Disney has Bambi fight a fierce buck for Feline, which is realistically mature and consistent with the lifestyle of an actual deer, especially during spring time.
We go through this ravishing tale of nature by following the beloved characters Bambi, Thumper, Friend Owl, and Flower. Bambi’s mother is apparently nameless and his father is simply known as “The Great Prince of the Forest”. On top of this, most of the characters, even Bambi, are quite flat and do not develop much past their actual maturity and age development. However, the characters are still quite well-done and the fact that they do not change much is simply another positive element to the story. The thing is, the characters are purely instinctual — living out their lives in the forest the way a deer, rabbit, owl, or a skunk, actually would. We just get the pleasure of hearing them speak about the experiences as they go. The lack of development actually works well for this story because it further demonstrates this instinctual lifestyle as well as puts emphasis on the more important matters of the story, such as the change in seasons and the growing unrest with man. Bambi himself is a beloved character besides — as a child, he is delightful, clumsy, and cute. Thumper is the hilarious younger sibling who always gets into trouble, while Flower remains the bashful, shy one all throughout the story. Though all of them do grow into more mature “adults”, so to speak, they never lose their individual characteristics, which is I think one of the main reasons the story does so well. Like when Bambi runs into Feline again, trips over the rock, and lands backwards in the water, just like as a kid. And she corners him and licks him, just like as a kid. Even Thumper continues to thump his foot long after he finds himself a she-rabbit. I think it was really quite clever, too, how Disney added in the relatable moments when Thumper continually gets scolded and has to recite the “greens” rhyme that his father taught him and so on. And then, in the very end, we get reunited with them once again! But not just them, their children as well.
—ANIMATION STYLE AND MUSIC—
Here, we really see Disney mature. Not only was the animation style much more sophisticated and refined, but the music was unbelievably incredible, pure, and unique. It was clear that, on top of studying the deer’s movements, he also studied the deer’s physical appearance. The animation captured what deer truly looked like, especially the candid shots of The Great Prince as he turned to stare at Bambi, so well that even I was amazed. And this was created in 1942! Before anyone really cared about preserving nature or respecting it. So way to go, Disney. Starting a long-awaited trend. Beyond this though, the animation also captured nature itself very well. The seasons changing and the leaves blowing and the rain dropping into the stream. It was all very beautiful and quite sophisticated, compared to Disney’s earlier films. The music reflects this beautiful maturity and sophistication as well.
The plot could not have been more coherent, in my opinion. We never stray from the initial plot line or task, which in this case would be to see Bambi safely grow up and learn the ways of the forest, and all of our questions, if we even had any, go answered. The ending leaves one feeling just as carefree, lighthearted, and satisfied as the beginning starts one out. Though not much really happens, we also see early on that a crazy action concept is not the point of the movie. And in fact, despite its seeming simplicity, this movie contains quite a lot of depth hidden underneath the surface. The darkness of how man’s presence affects the forest is a real, pressing issue that we face today. On top of this, the ethical-ness of hunting and how careless man can be within nature, like with the fire scene, from lack of respect and understanding, are also big issues still today. If not worse so now. We cover not only the basics of animal survival, but the importance of the seasons and their role in life. But most important of all, Bambi teaches us how to cope with loss and how sometimes, you just have to keep moving despite it. Because, no matter what, life will go on and we must get up and go with it if we want to survive.
This movie is definitely one that is made more for adults. Its maturity level is one that I never understood as a child, and its sophistication is something I did not appreciate then, either. I’ll admit that, as a child, I had been confused by most of the plot. I hadn’t understood The Great Prince’s role and how he was related to Bambi. I also didn’t really get how everything in the story was connected. But upon watching it now, as an adult, I understood everything almost too well, got deeply involved with the story, fully appreciated the upgrade in style, and even cried several times. This movie was an instructional wake-up call to all humans. Man sucks. Which, I suppose, I always knew anyway.
OVERALL RATING: 9.5/10
What do you think?