Bambi is another one of those Disney movies that I can't accurately remember if I've ever seen all the way through or not. We had Bambi on VHS when I was a kid, but as hard as I tried, I just couldn't recall any scenes that weren't about Bambi as a fawn. I had the vague memory that he grew up at some point, and of course, I know what happened to his mother. I think a lot of kids might only remember the first portion of the movie, and like I did as a child, lose interest once the young animals grow up.
Bambi is Disney's ode to the circle of life (before The Lion King, I suppose). At the opening of the movie, all the woodland critters are abuzz with the news that the new Prince has been born. They gather around the mother deer and we meet Bambi. We then follow Bambi and his best friend and guide, the rabbit Thumper, as he learns to walk and talk, experiences his first rainstorm, learns the boundaries between nature and Man's World, struggles with mortality, falls in love, and ultimately, has a family of his own.
As a child, I didn't really appreciate Bambi on the level it deserved. It's not really anything like any other Disney film. The closest comparison would probably be Fantasia, Disney's other symphonic ode to nature. I am continually in awe of the way Disney's animators brought life to animals, humanizing them while keeping their behavior recognizable as their species. There are multiple different animation styles utilized throughout Bambi, ranging from the cute, big eyed designs we all know and recognize, to the amazing impressionistic style employed later, during the forest fire. The backgrounds are ridiculously lush. One of the best sequences in the movie is a musical diversion from the main story, the ridiculously earwormy April Showers song, a vignette showing all the wildlife reacting to a rainstorm.
I can see why kids latch onto the early part of the film, and not so much onto the later. It's beautifully done, and I appreciate it now, but there's little to no dialogue at the end, and the characters are no longer relatable to a child. Still, the level of quality maintained by these early Disney features is pretty unbelievable.
For my other reviews of classic Disney movies, follow these links:
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs