Some animated films are destined to be classics forever. The majority of titles belonging to that category are produced by Disney and most of them are already considered as such. Few will ever balk at the thought of Snow White or Beauty and the Beast being referred to as some of the Disney greats, but those are just two of a much larger collection. With each year Disney continues to release its classics in new DVD editions and now with the introduction of Blu-ray, Disney has another format to unleash their library on. While we’ve already seen a myriad of classic (and modern) Disney titles on the format, we welcome Bambi into their revered “Diamond” collection, something only a few Disney films thus far have entered.
As morning light breaks across the meadow, a young deer named Bambi is born and hailed as ‘Prince of the Forest.’ Soon Bambi emerges from the thicket on wobbly legs, much to the delight of his new friends, Thumper, the playful rabbit, and Flower, the bashful yet lovable skunk. But the fun of nibbling on fresh blossoms and frolicking through the woods is only the beginning. Exploring his new world, and guided by the wisdom of Friend Owl, Bambi learns valuable life lessons with every adventure – experiencing the power of friendship, family, and love along the away.
My household was never one to collect movies of any sort. Sure we had Star Wars and Indiana Jones, but it wasn’t a massive collection of VHS tapes that we collected. We did, however, build up quite the library of Disney titles through the years (which we eventually sold for some embarrassingly low amount once the DVD releases came out), but the majority of those were all modern releases (I think the farthest we went back was 101 Dalmatians and Peter Pan). Bambi was never a film I watched much as a kid, partially because we didn’t own it and also because I just didn’t ever have any desire to watch it again. I never really knew why, but watching it again as an adult I can definitely see why it didn’t shoot to the top of my “must watch” list every time I went to the local library as a kid.
Thankfully with these Diamond editions I’m able to go back and watch these movies again with an adult frame of mind. With Bambi I didn’t get quite the morality lesson I got from Pinocchio, but there was still a really strong message of loyalty in place in Bambi, as well as the usual fun Disney elements that make the movies such classics to begin with. While the film is probably most famous for the tense few minutes in which Bambi loses his mother, there’s so much more in this film that stands out now. Sure there’s an anti-hunting message heavily melted into the story with the evil “man” killing the woodland creatures, but there’s also the silent and often unspoken bond between Bambi and his father as well as Bambi’s relationships with the other creatures.
It’s odd to read so far into a cartoon, but that’s what these old Disney films do to you—you just really get caught up in them and then realize that whether you realized it as a kid or not, these films were really pretty heavy with their subject matter. Perhaps that’s why Disney films stick with us—whether we know it or not, subconsciously these films really just instill us with a sense of goodness and morality that just isn’t quite so expertly laid out in modern animation (aside from the Pixar productions at least). Back in the dark ages of the Disney “cheapquels” you’d be hard pressed to find a wholesome message that wasn’t presented in a completely obvious and flinchingly cheesy way, so when you return to these old films you not only see their universal and age-group spanning messages but also just the absolutely gorgeous animation that accompanies them.
In the end there just isn’t much to be said about Bambi that hasn’t been uttered already in the 70 year lifespan it’s already enjoyed. It’s a very emotional film and while it may focus on talking animals, it’s still a film that people of all ages can enjoy. Highly Recommended.
What do you think I’m going to say about this release other than that it is absolutely spectacular? The set itself arrives in a single width Elite case with two discs inside. One of the discs is the Blu-ray, while the other is a DVD copy of the film. Not having owned this film in any previous release I can’t say for sure if it’s the same single disc DVD as before, but it appears to be. Also included are the usual Disney inserts as well as the Disney Movie Rewards code that you redeem online.
So how does this near seventy-year old film look? Not a day over one. The animation looks absolutely brilliant from start to finish and the level of detail included in this AVC encoded 1080p 1.33:1 image is simply remarkable. I had a similar reaction to this film as I did with Pinnochio as the restoration is just about as breathtaking and astonishing to look at; as before, I have to say I am absolutely floored. The fluidity of the animation combined with just how much the colors pop off the screen…there really isn’t quite anything like animation in 1080p and there’s nothing quite like Disney classic animation either. When the two are combined you really can’t help but gawk at the screen, no matter the scene or what’s going on in the film. Whether it’s the life-like animation of the animals or the lush and richly detailed scenery, this film is absolutely stunning to look at.
The audio comes in a English 7.1 DTS-HD High Resolution (not a Master Audio track for whatever reason) track that does little else with the seven channels but fill the surrounds with the music from the film. The voices are exclusively (from what I could tell at least) in the center channel only, creating a very mono-sounding track from beginning to end. Even the LFE moments are subdued (up until the forest fire anyway) and there just really isn’t much of a surround effort made for any of this film aside from some environmental forest noise. 7.1 is a nice addition, but it’s really overkill for Bambi, as it is never taken advantage of to the point that it’s genuinely noticeable. Still it’s the best the film will ever sound and for that reason alone it’s hard to knock any points off of it.
• Inside Walt’s Story Meetings-Enhanced Edition – A fascinating, multi-tiered, interactive story-telling experience. Go back in time with dramatic voice re-enactments of the moments with Walt that led to the creation of this classic film.
• 2 Never Before Seen Deleted Scenes
• Deleted Song: “Twitterpated”
• Blu-ray Galleries—A collection of the extraordinary images originally created as part of the design process for BAMBI.
Family Play: Games & Activities:
• Disney’s Big Book of Knowledge: BAMBI Edition— An interactive educational gaming experience that uses the film as a learning tool. Players can customize their own Big Book of Knowledge and learn all about forest creatures, seasons and more! Each time a player completes a task, they are rewarded with new stickers to decorate their Big Book of Knowledge.
• The Golden Age
Classic DVD Bonus Features:
• The Making Of BAMBI: A Prince Is Born—A comprehensive look at the making of BAMBI covers the story, the characters, the actors, the art design, the music and the history of Walt Disney’s classic film using behind the scenes footage, production stills, animation, artwork and multiple interviews with performers and behind the scenes participants.
• Tricks of the Trade (excerpt)—In an episode from the 1957 Disneyland TV show, Walt narrates the story of the multiplane camera, an animation innovation crucial to the production of BAMBI.
• Inside the Disney Archives—Disney Supervising Animator Andreas Deja guides viewers through Disney’s Animation Research Library, where artwork from past Disney animated feature films is stored, including early story sketches of Bobo the rabbit,” (who became Thumper), glass paintings made for the multiplane camera and more.
• The Old Mill—Winner of the 1937 Academy Award® for Best Short Subject/Cartoon, The Old Mill was a testing ground for several techniques critical to Walt’s artistic vision for BAMBI, including the multiplane camera, animating realistic animals and experimenting with such natural occurrences such as wind, rain and lightning.
• DisneyPedia: Bambi’s Forest Friends
The extras here really aren’t anything revolutionary—in fact a lot are just ported over from the original DVD releases. There are some nice Blu-only extras, but really nothing that opened up the vaults anymore past the inclusion of a deleted song. Overall Bambi on Blu-ray does not disappoint and is a Must Own for the Disney aficionado.
Bambi: Diamond Edition arrives on Blu-ray on March 1st and on DVD on April 29th.
Bambi Film Clips
That’s Why They Call Me Thumper
Bambi Meets Faline
Bambi on Ice