Hey guys! I’ve finally finished A Levels after a stressful last few months so now I’m looking forward to watching lots of new films and having more time to review them! So I watched Bambi a couple days ago to refresh my memory. Bambi is one of Disney’s classics made in 1942 and follows the simple story of a young deer’s life as he grows up in the forest and finds love, whilst having to avoid ‘Man’, the villain of the film.
Bambi is one of those Disney films that I saw rarely when I was younger and I suppose that was probably a good thing because of the dark themes and scenes in the film, but when I did watch it I was always emotionally drained after each viewing. Now, I can watch it and it will still have a similar effect on me but I do believe it is a beautiful, unique and timeless film which I would even say is one of the greatest animated films ever made. The animation in this film is absolutely stunning, every single frame is rich with detail and authenticity that you really become engulfed in this forest and you feel that you’re right alongside Bambi as he grows up and faces the highs and lows of life. One of my personal favourite scenes is the ‘Little April Showers’ scene when Bambi experiences a thunder storm for the first time, the animation is incredible here accompanied with a beautiful haunting choir to make the scene even more effective.
Walt Disney ensured the animation team used real animals in order to make the animals in the film look as realistic as possible and they definitely pulled it off! A personal highlight just showing what this team can accomplish is the ice skating scene, when Thumper, Bambi’s best friend, helps him to learn how to ice skate. It’s pure harmless fun that encapsulates childhood innocence just before Bambi’s mother is tragically shot by hunters. Speaking of, of course this heart wrenching scene has pretty much scarred many children for life and rightfully so! Every time, I know it’s coming, but it doesn’t make witnessing this tragic end to such a loving mother any easier. I think the worst part is when Bambi is left alone, calling for his mother in the falling snow, it’s just horrendous to watch and I have to breathe a sigh of relief when the scenes that follow involve the light, cliche ‘love at first sight’ gimmick.
In terms of the animation, I also particularly like the use of harsh contrasts, shadows and colours which are either used to signify ‘man’ or danger, such as during the stag fight. Accompanied by the thrilling score, a highlight for me being the theme used for man which has always frightened me since I was little, these scenes are always thrilling to watch and really get across the sense of danger that these woodland creatures face on a daily basis. The use of children to voice Bambi, Thumper, Flower and Faline, are also very effective at making the story more realistic as all of the children do a wonderful job by sounding incredibly natural and organic. Thumper (voiced by Peter Behn), for example, is constantly told off my his mother with the famous line ‘What did your father tell you?’ and on one response the actor actually forgot his line for a few seconds, speaking “If you can’t say something nice-“, then pausing to think before finishing “-don’t say something at all.” Little moments like this make the film more realistic and effective at demonstrating the innocence of childhood and youth.
If I did have to nitpick, I do think that the film feels a tad outdated at some points. It’s strange to think that even female animals in animation can be sexualised! Even though I still enjoy the ‘twitterpated’ scene, when Bambi and his friends are effectively seduced by their future partners, it’s pretty funny. I can’t really enjoy it fully since the women are presented so stereotypically as sex objects who look after their appearance, but to be honest it is just a tiny nit pick and it definitely doesn’t hinder the quality of the rest of the film. It’s pretty much made up for by the thrilling climax of the film when Bambi and friends have to escape ‘man’ when he returns again and accidentally starts a forest fire, it’s pretty much edge on your seat stuff, especially after Bambi is shot and we don’t know whether he’ll survive.
So overall, I think Bambi is a wonderful film and an important achievement in animation history. I can watch it anytime, in any season and still be blown away by the beautiful animation that effectively takes me away into the forest for an hour. It’s not something you could watch over and over again like other Disney films, being a bit dark and heavy in places, but Bambi is a timeless classic about the life cycle of animals in the forest with some fab music, good voice cast and an effective simple story that anyone can relate to.