DVD, Blu-Ray Movie Review
Directed by James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, David Hand, Graham Heid, Bill Roberts, Paul Satterfield, and Norman Wright, Written by Felix Salten (Story), Perce Pearce, Larry Morey, Vernin Stallings, Melvin Shaw, Carl Fallberg, Chuch Couch, and Ralph Wright, 70 minutes, Rated G.
By our guest blogger, Matthew Schimkowitz
Disney’s fifth animated feature--now out on Blu-ray disc--is a film of firsts.
Following a young fawn through the first year of his life, the film offers its audience a glimpse into the life of animals, from birth to death, and it recalls the joys of youth in the process. The film's realistic illustrations, careful structure and its depiction of death make it one the studio’s most beloved works. It's a coming-of-age story told with charm, beauty and reality.
Beginning at his birth, the film follows our titular fawn prince throughout his first year. Born in the summer, we see Bambi (voice of Donnie Dugan) take his first steps, hear him say his first words and watch him make his first friends. Bambi learns through socialization as do Thumper the rabbit (Peter Behn), Flower the skunk (Stan Alexander), and Faline the female fawn (Cammie King Conlon). They listen to their parents and thus learn through experience.
Bambi is born without a personality, and as we watch his character develop, we connect with his fresh look at the forest, whether he's doing so with curiosity or fear. Man provides Bambi with his first taste of the latter. With guns and fire in toe, man terrorizes the forest and, keeping with the film’s realistic view of nature, man succeeds in killing main characters.
“Bambi” offered the studio something entirely different. The forest's dim colors and the realistic depiction of animals make the film feel more down to Earth than, say, “Pinocchio” or “Snow White.” The animals may talk, but they never appear as cartoonish as Disney's other works. The film’s loyalty to this realistic aesthetic bleeds over into the plot, and it does a remarkably fine job of it.