Bambi (1942): Movie Review

Bambiposter

Plot summary: When Bambi is born, the little fawn is surrounded by novelty and affection. As he grows up, he finds friendship and love, faces danger and loss – experiences that prepare him to eventually follow in the footsteps of his father, The Great Prince of the Forest.

Review: There are stories you fall in love with as a child that stay with you for a lifetime. Bambi is such a gem. Originally published in 1923, the book was written for an adult audience and made into an animated feature two decades later. Although not an instant hit with critics or American audiences alike, Walt Disney’s fifth feature production turned into a classic generations of children have grown up with. Equipped with a then-unprecedented love for detail and a new realism in animation and narrative style, Bambi ultimately learned to stand the test of time. Re-released to theaters six times until it conquered nurseries and family rooms around the world on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray, Bambi’s story is now an essential part of many vintage movie collections.

Introducing us to the lives of fawn Bambi, hare Thumper and skunk Flower, Disney’s adaptation stayed true to the essentials of Felix Salten’s popular book. Criticized for depicting the grim realities of forest animals in our modern times, the film addressed human negligence and hunting as two issues Bambi and his friends have to cope with in their young lives. Although a lot less colorful in its description of the loss Bambi has to face, the film hit a nerve at the time of its release and still does today. Memorable and haunting, Bambi does what fairytales used to do: it wraps a tough lesson in a charming tale that remains relevant beyond your childhood days. Like many of its live action peers from Hollywood’s Golden Age, the film had a message without being preachy. Paired with masterful character animations and an Academy-Awards-nominated score, Bambi still resonates today and looks as beautiful as ever, 71 years after its original release.

Melanie Simone is a writer with a degree in American Studies and English. On Talking Classics, she savors her love for vintage Hollywood.

  • mike jaral

    back in the 40′s when my mom took me to see Bambi, I really got upset. at least that’s what my mom told me. the hunters and the deer fight really bothered me. Till this day I really don’t care to watch it that much. the media and the public don’t like the violence of the Looney Toons , Bugs Bunny cartoons, but not one of those have ever bothered me. this I cannot understand. Most Disney full length cartoons are great, so is Bambi, but it just seems to sad at times, with a lot of violence.

    • DMS

      As a child, I always skipped certain traumatic parts. Most people I know did the same and yet I have fond memories of this film. Strange, isn’t it?!

      • mike jaral

        I had forgotten how it bothered me, and about 6 months ago it was on TV, and watched it even the both scenes that I did not like, and you know, I still don’t like them.

        • DMS

          So your heart hasn’t hardened. That’s good.

  • Wayne P.

    My all time fave animated feature length movie…so much so, that I wouldnt even deign to compare it to the mostly cartoons that preceded and, for the most part, followed it! The special effects were light years ahead of their time and possibly not rivaled until the more modern era Disney studio whizzes turned out Mary Poppins in 1964. Snow White and the 7 Dwarves (1937) and this film were really the first to use the fab 5 plate/glass refraction lens camera that gave each scene its amazing 3-D like richness and depth. Nick Park said it takes about 5 years to make his one of his fine crop of Wallace & Gromit full-length movies (not the excellent but shorter 30 minute versions) so you know clay or regular animation genius when you see it and all the best practicioners owe their success to Walt and his amazing original creative team. I highly recommend the 4 disc special features set of the last big anniversary reissue.

    • Wayne P.

      Sorry but the Bambi anniv. edition only has 2 discs…its the Wizard of Oz 70th yr. re-release that has the 4 full discs…but still plenty of good features for the special little buck!

      • DMS

        It’s always such a treat to get a classic film on DVD with lots of extras. :)