As I grow older, watching "Bambi" again on this new Blu-Ray edition, I've begun to further appreciate its subtlety. The impressive detail - capturing the movement of animals, their expression, and even a tiny drop of April showers - is wonderful to watch. What now feels like simpler viewing pleasures, was once great animation feats. The multi-plane camera added such depth to the film. Give me beautiful, subtle animation any day over 3D hoopla. After all, this is quite simply storytelling at its finest. “Bambi” is very much like opening a wonderfully illustrated picture book, and watching in awe as it comes to life before your very eyes.
The story of “Bambi” is just as simple in its telling, and yet deeply moving and reflective in its entirety. The picture, which looks half its age on this new, restored edition, opens in a lush forest, with the animals preparing for the birth of a new prince - a deer named Bambi. The seventy minute feature follows Bambi as he comes of age amongst his friends Thumper and Flower. With their help, he learns to walk, say his first word, and discover the world around him in a serene and wonderful way. He even meets a young doe named Faline.
From then on, Bambi must learn to live in the forest without his mother, proceeding onward with the many lessons she taught him. His dad (the Great Prince of the Forest) and his friends are there to comfort him, and as seasons come and go, Bambi grows up. He and his friends eventually find romance, and must even face a forest fire and wild dogs. “Bambi” is a beautiful, full circle story that ends like it begins: with a birth. There is very little dialogue in the film, and most of the scenes are scored (though not quite to the degree of “Fantasia,” there is a similar feel of the animation being set to music to convey a particular emotion during a given scene). As an adult I appreciate this quiet, but lasting film more. Still, kids will enjoy “Bambi” for its memorable characters, especially Thumper who always says what’s on his mind.
The voice work is memorable and the music that truly helps carry the film forward won an Academy Award. Still, the thing that stands out most about “Bambi” is the art work. The animation continues to dazzle, even in this age of CG animation. There's a real beauty and grace within every frame of this wonderful film. If you’ve never seen “Bambi,” or if you have strong feelings about it either way, give it another try because this quiet little film is truly a work of art.
Film Clip- Bambi on Ice
VIDEO: "Bambi" is presented by Disney in its original 1.33:1 (1080p) full-frame aspect ratio. The film has been given a terrific restoration for this edition, and it looks absolutely delightful. The picture looks fresh, bright and new this time around, with richer colors and more detail to the animation. Sharpness and detail looked perfectly fine throughout the presentation, as the gorgeous hand-drawn animation looked crisp and well-defined. The picture appeared to be free of any edge enhancement or pixelation, and print flaws were not seen throughout this edition. The picture seemed almost entirely free of dirt, dust and other debris. Only a little bit of dirt was spotted, but it's hardly an issue.
SOUND: "Bambi" is given a DTS-HD 5.1 presentation for this release. Of course, despite being presented in 5.1, the film really doesn't offer much of a sound mix - the new presentation simply serves to open the audio out a bit across the front speakers - and it does that pretty well. The surrounds aren't really used, aside from some reinforcement of the music. Audio quality was terrific for a film from this era, with a cleaner, fresher sound than prior releases. Dialogue remained crisp and clear, while music remained moderately fuller than it has sounded before. While not a great leap forward, the presentation was tighter and more precise than prior releases.
EXTRAS: Bonus Features on Blu-ray: “Disney View 16X9 Full Frame Viewing Experience” features artwork on the border of the film.
“Introduction by Diane Disney Miller.”
In Backstage Disney: “Bambi: Inside Walt’s Story Meetings - Enhanced Edition” - In the Walt Disney archives there were transcripts of the meetings that took place to discuss “Bambi” and here, the transcripts are read while scenes from the movie play and some images of Walt and the animators (as well as storyboards and concept art) occasionally are presented. These discussions are fascinating, as we get a really wonderful listen as to how ideas were thrown about and decided upon. Really well done.
Two deleted scenes are featured in Backstage Disney: “Two Leaves” and “Bambi Stuck On A Reed.” Both scenes included are presented as images - neither is a fully animated scene.
“Bambi Interactive Galleries” - The galleries are divided into five categories: Character Design, Backgrounds, Production Pictures, Storyboards and Visual Development. Deleted song “Twitterpated” is also included here.
Disney Second Screen” is meant to play with an App available online. The App syncs up with the movie, allowing you to “explore interactive galleries, play challenges, and learn interesting facts about the scenes you’re watching.”
In Family Play: “Disney’s Big Book of Knowledge” is an interactive and educational games for kids and family that allows players to earn stickers to fill their book, highlighting seasons, animals and other facts about the forest. You can even place the stickers you earn on different art backgrounds.
In Classic DVD Bonus Features: Deleted Scenes “Winter Grass” and “Bambi’s First Snow” are included.
“The Making of Bambi: A Prince Is Born” a 53-minute documentary that provides a look at the history of "Bambi, the development of "Bambi" and the continuing legacy of the film. Some of the animators involved with the film give their thoughts on working on the picture (and some of the changes that took place). John Lassetter ("Toy Story") also offers his thoughts.
Also included are: "Inside the Disney Archives" and "Tricks of the Trade,” two older, short featurettes that take a closer look at the animation process. 1937 Short, “The Old Mill” and the “Original Theatrical Trailer (1942)” are included as well.
Bonus Features on DVD: “Introduction by Diane Disney Miller.”
“Backstage Disney: “Bambi”: Inside Walt’s Story Meetings - Enhanced Edition” - In the Walt Disney Archives there were transcripts of the meetings that took place to discuss “Bambi” and here, the transcripts are read here while scenes from the movie play and some images of Walt and the animators (as well as storyboards and concept art) occasionally are presented. These discussions are terribly fascinating, as we get a really wonderful listen as to how ideas were thrown about and decided upon.
“Classic Games and Activities-DisneyPedia: Bambi’s Forest Friends” - an fun, educational look at some of the animals featured in the film. Each include footage of the animal from the film, as well as actual footage of the animals.
Final Thoughts: There's a real beauty and grace within every frame of this wonderful film. If you’ve never seen “Bambi,” or if you have strong feelings about it either way, give it another try because this quiet li
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