Director(s): David Hand, James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, Graham Heid, Bill Roberts, Paul Satterfield & Normal Wright
Starring: Bobby Stewart, Donnie Dunagan, Hardie Albright, Peter Behn, Stan Alexander, Paula Winslowe, Will Wright & Ann Gillis
Released by: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Based on Felix Salten’s novel, Bambi charts a young deer’s adventures in the wild from infancy to maturity as memorable moments and dangerous encounters shape him into the prince of the forest he was born to be.
Intended to be Walt Disney’s followup to his critically acclaimed debut of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the tale’s bleaker tone and Disney’s perfectionism to capture realistic animated depictions of the characters required years of extensive development before fully coming to fruition. A master of intuitive storytelling, Disney’s softening of the material for his family-friendly audience proved wise while, the slow and oftentimes demanding nature of bringing more lifelike expression to forest animals than ever before would payoff as one of the studio’s most visually dazzling sights. Quieter on dialogue with the changing of seasons, complimented by musical orchestrations and the chimes of nature’s critters, unfolding the narrative, Bambi invites viewers to the miracle of a baby deer’s birth as we witness his first steps and words before befriending lifelong friends Thumper, the adorable scene-stealing bunny, and Flower, a bashful skunk. Cared for by his protective mother and slowly learning how to survive the harsh winter seasons, the threat of gun-touting hunters alter the young deer’s life forever in a sequence long considered one of Disney’s most tragically effective. Taken in by the fatherly great prince of the woods, Bambi comes of age, returning to the wilderness of his youth to reunite with old friends, falls for a fellow deer and faces his greatest challenge yet when his home is engulfed in flames.
The fifth of Disney’s cherished animated features only behind other such classics as Fantasia and Dumbo, Bambi excels through its gorgeous visuals and flawless animation that once again set a new bar of excellence for the studio. A costly investment that failed to recoup its original budget, Bambi’s impact on audiences has never wavered and continues to delight viewers with its humorous moments of Bambi struggling to find his balance on ice and the tearjerking drama conveyed through its moments of personal loss. A touchstone achievement with timeless themes of love and conservation at its core, Bambi stands as animation’s lasting love letter to nature and all its majestic inhabitants.
Recycling their Diamond Edition transfer from 2011, Walt Disney Studios’ Home Entertainment’s 1080p transfer (1:33:1) of Bambi is just as marvelous as before with the gorgeous greenery of the woods, vibrants colors found in the various furs of the animals and fantastic background paintings looking flawless. Meanwhile, the same DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix is once again on hand delivering dialogue clearly and giving eloquent force to Frank Churchill and Edward H. Plumb’s beautifully dreamy score.
In addition to presenting the Original Theatrical Edition (1:09:50) with optional DisneyView and a thoroughly interesting Inside Walt’s Story Meetings: Extended Edition (1:35:55), new supplements include, Studio Stories: Bambi (4:56) featuring archival recordings of Walt Disney culled from interviews circa 1956, Deleted Scenes (7:25) with introductions by Animator Floyd Norman, an Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in Africa Before Dark (5:50) short film, The Bambi Effect (3:00) and Bambi Fawn Facts (3:34). Furthermore, vintage bonus features carried over feature Classic Deleted Scenes (3:07), a Deleted Song: “Twitterpated” (1:52), The Making of Bambi: A Prince is Born (53:15), Tricks of Our Trade (Excerpt) (7:18), Inside the Disney Archives (8:39), The Old Mill: Animated Short (8:58), The Golden Age (6:24) and the Original Theatrical Trailer (2:12). Lastly, Sneak Peeks at Disney Movie Rewards (0:20), Cars 3 (0:57) and Beauty and the Beast (1:38) round out the on-disc extras. Additionally, Celebrating Tyrus Wong (8:56), available only digitally, examines the long life of the famed artist, who passed away only last year at the age of 106, and his lasting impressions on Bambi. Fans are also treated to a Collectible Tyrus Wong Lithograph in the packaging’s interior while, a DVD edition and Digital HD are also provided.
Retaining the same splendid audio and visual specifications as its previous outing on Blu-ray, Bambi’s Signature Collection Edition joins the line with several new worthy supplements including a new Oswald the Lucky Rabbit short while, a stash, albeit incomplete, selection of classic extras are also on-hand. Lovers, young and old, of Disney’s golden age efforts will be delighted to add this quintessential feature into their collections if they haven’t already and cherish the breathtaking sights of Bambi and his furry friends for years to come.
Available now from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Bambi can be purchased via Amazon.com and other fine retailers.