Week 5: Bambi

A True Work of Art

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Originally Released: 1942

The way I see things, there are two types of men in this world: those who are too manly for Bambi, and those who are man enough to admit they like it. Apparently, those in the first category only tend to remember the cute bunnies and other lovable creatures of the forest, but I suppose they are not able to look past that and see how much more the film offers.

In reality, Bambi offers a little of everything: drama, suspense, character growth, romance, and even a little action. Above all, it is a tale about life, and particularly learning how to deal with the curve balls life can throw at you. The film shows that life does go on despite tragedy and adversity, and that there is happiness to be found even in the midst of these bad things.

"Your mother can't be with you anymore."

“Your mother can’t be with you anymore.”

Think of some of the things Bambi goes through in just the first year or so of his life. His life starts off well enough, with friends, family, and fun. But eventually the winter comes with its challenges. Just when things start to look up, tragedy strikes and he loses his mother. Later on, Bambi is shot, his home burns down, and he almost loses his love. In the end, though, we see that he is able to overcome these adverse circumstances and have a happy ending, at least for another year.

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It is interesting to note that around the time this film was made, Walt Disney was going through some rough times of his own. Three of his first five films failed to turn a profit, so the company was not doing well financially. In addition to this, many of the animators went on strike during the production of Bambi. Finally, World War II was spreading across the globe at this time. Despite these challenges, Walt was able to get the film completed and his company survived.

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As I watched this film, I thought more about these things and less about the cuteness of it all. Yes, the characters are cute and full of charm, but if we look past this and dig a little deeper, we can find some great takeaways in this film. We all go through periods of fun with friends and family, but we have our winters to deal with as well. However, we can come through hard times and still find happiness, and in the end we will be wiser.

Beyond the story, I must mention that this movie is just plain gorgeous to look at, especially when watching it on Blu-ray. From the very first frame of the forest to the ending sequence showing Bambi and the Great Prince looking down at the valley below, I was stunned by the beauty and style of the backgrounds. I could pause the film at just about any spot and be treated to an image that I would want to hang on my wall.

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Not only this, but the animation of the animals is very impressive. It strikes just a perfect balance between lifelike and cartoony. They don’t feel like cartoon characters; they feel like forest animals. Yet they have been humanized and are able to show a great range of emotion. In this film Disney really succeeded in creating the illusion of life. It is an impressive feat of animation.

Bambi marked the end of Disney’s first “golden age.” Each of the first five feature films was a home run in its own way, and they set the bar incredibly high for all the films which followed. Bambi, like the four films preceding it, is a winner which I would recommend to anyone – even the manly men.

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