Bambi is the fifth animated feature in the Disney animated features canon, originally released to theatres by RKO Radio Pictures on August 13, 1942 and produced by Walt Disney. The film is based on the 1939 book Bambi, A Life in the Woods by Austrian author Felix Salten. The main characters are Bambi, the young roe deer prince of the forest; his parents, the Great Prince of the forest and his unnamed mother; and his friends Thumper, a rabbit; Flower, a skunk; and his childhood friend and future mate, Faline, a doe. For the movie, Disney took the liberty of changing Bambi's species into a white-tailed deer to visually emphasize him against the colored backgrounds.
Plot[edit | edit source]
|Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about|
the entire movie.
The story of the natural life cycle—birth, death and rebirth—is the true plot of the film. It is a case study in the very basics of life: the "doe-eyed" innocence of childhood; parental love; discovering and learning about the world around us (both its beauty and its danger); loss and grief; developing friendships; loyalty; balancing risk and need; growing toward independence; being at one and in harmony with nature; and romantic love.
Like the majority of Walt Disney's feature-length animated narratives, Bambi embraces both joy and tragedy. It is a movie that alternates frequently between these two extremes, with the one typically being used to set up the other. For instance, the joy of Bambi's first walk through the forest is interrupted by a frightening thunderstorm. His first visit to the meadow is joyful until it is interrupted by the villain Man who fires upon him and his mother and father.
The pivotal scene in the movie involves Bambi's mother and her death at the hand of Man. In the sequence, the audience sees the joy/tragedy motif used again. The scene is set in late winter, and Bambi and his mother struggle to find food as mournful music plays. Joy is felt as they discover a patch of new grass, signaling the arrival of spring, and joyful music is heard on the soundtrack. As they feast, the mood changes again, and we hear Man approach off-screen, represented only by his theme music (a low, three-note motif). Bambi's mother suddenly catches Man's scent, and orders her child to run, but she is too late. As they flee across the snow field, a shot rings out. The camera stays with Bambi as he runs through the forest, finally stopping to catch his breath. He notices at this time (as does the audience) that his mother is nowhere to be seen.
In a series of heartbreaking dissolves, Bambi wanders desperately through the forest calling for her, but no answer comes. He is startled by the sudden appearance of his father, the Great Prince, who tells him that his mother cannot be with him any more. He casts his head to the ground, and when he lifts it again, the audiences see that he is crying, realizing what has happened. He follows his father into the forest, taking one last look back as he leaves his childhood and innocence behind.
The movie then skips forward in time to the spring, where Bambi, Thumper, Flower, and Faline are all seen having grown up to adulthood. They become "twitterpated" over potential mates. Bambi and Faline become a couple, however their happiness is threatened by Ronno, a buck who is himself after Faline. He fights with Bambi and at first seems to have the upper hand until Bambi somehow manages to wind him in his shoulder and throw him from the clifftop on which they were fighting. He falls from the cliff and into the river, from which he is not seen again bambi than takes faline to the meadow where after a game of chase settle down in each other embrace and fall asleep as night fell.
Man enters the forest again, and is responsible for a forest fire that sends all the life in the forest running for refuge in a river. Bambi and his father barely escape.
The film ends with the birth of Bambi and Faline's twin fawns.
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Impact[edit | edit source]
The death of Bambi's mother is one of the most famous moments in American film history, a moment so upsetting to certain children that they had to be carried screaming out of the theater during Bambi's numerous theatrical presentations. For this reason, and because of the horror and violence of the climactic hunting/forest fire sequence, many critics question the suitability of Bambi as a film appropriate for very young audiences. When one takes Bambi together with the other Disney feature films created during the same period of the early 40's, such as the dark the powerful Fantasia, and the serious Victory Through Air Power, one can see an attempt by Walt Disney to produce films pushing against the stereotype of Disney animation being "children's films".
History[edit | edit source]
Re-release schedule and home video[edit | edit source]
Bambi was released in theaters in 1942, during World War II and was Disney's fifth full length animated film. It was an advance over the previous movies in sophistication of the animation, due to the experience gained in character animation at the Disney studio. The famous art direction of Bambi, which suggests emotion and the feeling of a forest rather than depicting a real forest, was due to the influence of Tyrus Wong, a former painter who provided eastern and painterly influence to the backgrounds. Bambi was re-released to theaters on 1947, 1957, 1966, 1975, 1982, and 1988. It was released on VHS video in 1989 (The Classics version), 1997 (Masterpiece Collection version) and remastered and restored for the March 1, 2005 Platinum Edition DVD and Blu-ray Disc. The Platinum Edition DVD and Blu-ray Disc will go on moratorium on January 31, 2007. 
Bambi theatrical release history[edit | edit source]
- August 13, 1942 (New York City, New York release)
- August 21, 1942 (USA release)
- December 25, 1947
- July 3, 1957
- March 25, 1966
- June 20, 1975
- June 4, 1982
- July 15, 1988
Worldwide release dates[edit | edit source]
- U.K.: August 8, 1942
- Argentina: December 9, 1942
- Mexico: February 4, 1943
- Sweden: October 4, 1943
- Norway: December 26, 1946
- Denmark: March 3, 1947
- France: July 15, 1947
- Finland: August 29, 1947
- Italy: February 11, 1948
- Spain: September 11, 1950
- West Germany: December 19, 1950
- Japan: May 18, 1951
Recycled animation from Bambi in other films[edit | edit source]
Animation from Bambi has been reused in several other Disney films, especially footage of birds, leaves and generic woodland. For example, one scene in The Fox and the Hound reused footage of the animals running from the rain in Bambi's "Little April Shower" sequence. The most reused footage from Bambi are the few seconds of Bambi's mother looking up from eating grass just before she is killed by the hunter. This footage has been used in hunting scenes in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and The Sword in the Stone. It is also featured in The Rescuers during the song "Someone's Waiting For You" and in the opening scene of Beauty and the Beast. Even a later Bambi and his mother. They are drinking from a stream and then a bunch of garbage floats past them in it and Bambi's mother says to him calmly, "Man is in the forest. Let's dig out." They then leave.
Voice cast[edit | edit source]
The cast was uncredited in the opening credits. Here are the voices:
- Bobby Stewart as baby Bambi
- Donnie Dunagan as Young Bambi
- Hardie Albright as Teen Bambi
- John Sutherland as Adult Bambi
- Paula Winslowe as Bambi's mother, Pheasant
- Peter Behn as Young Thumper
- Tim Davis as Teen Thumper, Teen Flower
- Sam Edwards as Adult Thumper
- Stan Alexander as Young Flower
- Sterling Holloway as Adult Flower
- Will Wright as Friend Owl
- Cammie King as Young Faline
- Ann Gillis as Teen Faline
- Fred Shields as the Great Prince of the Forest
- Thelma Boardman as Miss Bunny, Quail Mother, Frightened Pheasant
- Mary Lansing as Aunt Ena, Mrs. Possum, Pheasant
- Margaret Lee as Mrs. Hare
- Otis Harlan as Mr. Mole
- Marion Darlington as Bird calls
- Clarence Nash as Bullfrog, Hunter Dogs
- Stuart Erwin as Tree Squirrel
- Eddie Holden as Chipmunk
Supervising Animators[edit | edit source]
See also[edit | edit source]
- Bambi, A Life in the Woods
- Bambi Effect
- Bambi II
- Bambi Meets Godzilla
- List of animated feature films
References[edit | edit source]
- "AFI's 100 YEARS...100 Heroes & Villans" American Film Institute, n.d., Retrieved May 11, 2006.
- "Oscar Roundtable: Prize Fighters" By David Ansen and Sean Smith, "Newsweek", February 6, 2006, retrieved April 29, 2006.
- Spoofed by "Cartoons Gone Bad" http://cartoons-gone-bad.smackjeeves.com/. Thamper is an Thumper spoof
- "Washington Talk: Breifing; Elks, Parks and Bambi" By Jeff Gerth and Philip Shabecoff, "The New York Times", March 6, 1989, retrieved April 29, 2006.
- Barrier, Michael, Graham Webb, and Hames Ware. "The Moving Drawing Speaks." Funnyworld #18, Summer 1978. pp. 21.
- Babbit, Burce. "Babbitt Urges California Leaders to Help 'Fight Fire With Fire.'" US Dept. of Interior. Washington: GPO, 1998
- Stewart, Doug (Jun/Jul 2002, vol. 40 no. 4) "Fires of Life". National Wildlife Federation
- Webb, Graham (2001). The Animated Film Encyclopedia: A Complete Guide to American Shorts, Features, and Sequences, 1900-1979. McFarland and Co.. ISBN 0-7864-0728-X.
- "Fire Wars." Director Kirk Wolfinger. Performers: Matt Snider, Neil Sampson, Bruce Babbit. Nova. May 7, 2002