My opinion right after watching movie
My opinion of it right after watching the movie is that it is boring. While it has some charm and the characters are likable, with beautiful animation, I like a story with…… a coherent plot. I do see how this is the older Lion King and The Lion King is our generation’s Bambi. What I will say is that there will never be enough risks and creativity and balls in the films released after this in Uncle Walt’s life, and the Tar and Sugar in the Golden Age will just be Sugar in the Silver Era.
Walt Disney was sold the rights to Bambi in April of 1937, after someone else tried to make it into live action film. He immediately had this as his pet project and wanted it to be the second film behind Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Because they were having trouble adapting from an adult and jarring book, and having trouble animating realistic deer, so they pushed this back in favor of Pinocchio in 1939.
There was gonna be a bunch of characters in the film, and 9 bunnies, like the seven Dwarfs, but they decided to merge the character into Thumper. The writing was finished in July 1940, and focused on the animation for the remaining 2 years. The budget was getting so high that they had to remove 12 minutes of the film to save production costs. They brought in actual deer to the studio to catch realistic designs and movements.
So the story starts with the animals rushing to see the newborn Prince Bambi (Bobby Stewart, Donnie Dunagan, Harie Albright, and Jon Sutherland). He will become the prince of the forest, which is held by his deadbeat father.
He soon meets Thumper (Peter Behn, Tim Davis, and Sam Edwards), who is a bit too much of a talker, and is constantly scolded by his mother for it. So Bambi is curiously learning more and more about the place he lives in and is becoming more curious. He walks around with Thumper, and they meet Flower (Stan Alexander and Sterling Holloway), by almost kissing him.
They flirt for a bit, and then they leave. We have some filler of rain falling, and then Bambi and his mother go to the meadow. Here he learns to be careful because Man will shoot and kill you. So they meet Faline (Cammie King and Ann Gillis), and they play around, establishing their friendship.
Man shows up, and Bambi gets lost, but finding his way out of it from his absentee father (Fred Shields). It is winter, and Bambi is complaining that he is hungry. This causes him and his mother to go out and eat grass, but Man appears, shooting like crazy. They try to run away, as fast as they can, she tells Bambi to keep on running, and then…
So his deadbeat father tells him that his mother is gone and to follow him. It is spring time, and everyone has grown up. We see Bambi as more wise, but still his youthful, optimistic and curious self. He reunites with his friends, and the cranky owl lectures them about love. The owl tells them it, like it is a bad thing, which they believe, but not for long.
The trio soon starts walking off, but one by one, a woman seduces them, and he is the last one, and is reunited with Faline, but wait; she is turned into a damsel in distress when another deer is literally gonna try to kidnap mate her. So they fight, which gets the animators to show off their colors, and Bambi has won Faline. They then go off to their own version of Can You Feel The Love, but 52 years beforehand.
So Man reappears again, and is shooting up the place, which ultimately causes a fire. Bambi finds Faline trapped by dogs, and fights them off, telling her to run. He gets shot, but his deadbeat father demands him to get up, not giving a crap that his son got shot. So they all escape the forest and migrate somewhere else. The film ends with Bambi and Faline having their twins (that they conceived during their Can You Feel The Love). He is seen hovering over the forest with his father, who walks away for Bambi to be deemed the Prince of the Forest, and is now wise. I just realized how much The Lion King stole from here.
The characters here are not that developed or engaging, but they do have personality and enough traits to not be completely bored by them.
The animation is STUNNING. I think this is one of the best character movements I have ever seen in a traditionally animated film. The backgrounds have so much detail, and the coloring of the characters and the backgrounds are great. Nothing too flashy, but not subtle enough for it to be dull. The character designs of the deer are so realistic. You could tell this is where a good amount of the production money went into.
I don’t remember a single song from the film. All I remember is that they all sound the same, and sounds more like background music than songs to move the narrative. They have the slow melodic theme with the same session singers singing the same way; hard to differentiate or memorize them. The score is really good though. It is slow and melodic, but it actually stands out, and the same instruments are not being used. It is sped up when it is an action scene, but slowed down when it is a loving or a fun scene.
Reception at Release
When the film was released on August 13, 1942, it was a box office bomb, with making $1.64 million out of its $1.7 million budget. It also got mixed reviewers because the reviewers did not like how it was more dramatic and lacked the fantasy that was in Pinocchio and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Here is a review from the New York Times: “In the search for perfection, Mr. Disney has come perilously close to tossing away his whole world of cartoon fantasy.”
It is seen as a classic today, an artistic masterpiece, and the villain Man is seen as one of the biggest and baddest villains of all time; no joke. It became more popular and a success in its 1947 release. It is the oldest WDAS film to get the lucky honor of getting a sequel, called Bambi 2. It currently has $267 million in the box office.
= 28.5/40 =70%