In Disney's spectacularly animated forest fable, a fawn named Bambi is born, destined to become Prince of the Forest. He soon befriends other woodland creatures such as Flower, a bashful skunk, and Thumper, an outgoing rabbit. As the years pass, they encounter a number of life's lessons in the woods, including the death of Bambi's mother at the hands of hunters. Eventually, Bambi comes of age, completing the cycle of life and taking his father's place. Based on the classic novel by Felix Salten, Bambi demonstrates the strength of family values and camaraderie. Director David Hand adds a mixture of great songs and life-like backgrounds to make this early Disney film an unforgettable film classic for all ages.
It always comes up when people are comparing their most traumatic movie experiences: "the death of Bambi's mother," a recollection that can bring a shudder to even the most jaded filmgoer. That primal separation (which is no less stunning for happening off-screen) is the centerpiece of Bambi, Walt Disney's 1942 animated classic, but it is by no means the only bold stroke in the film. In its swift but somehow leisurely 69 minutes, Bambi covers a year in the life of a young deer. But in a bigger way, it measures the life cycle itself, from birth to adulthood, from childhood's freedom to grown-up responsibility. All of this is rendered in cheeky, fleet-footed style--the movie doesn't lecture, or make you feel you're being fed something that's good for you. The animation is miraculous, a lush forest in which nature is a constantly unfolding miracle (even in a spectacular fire, or those dark moments when "man was in the forest"). There are probably easier animals to draw than a young deer, and the Disney animators set themselves a challenge with Bambi's wobbly glide across an ice-covered lake, his spindly legs akimbo; but the sequence is effortless and charming. If Bambi himself is just a bit dull--such is the fate of an Everydeer--his rabbit sidekick Thumper and a skunk named Flower more than make up for it. Many of the early Disney features have their share of lyrical moments and universal truths, but Bambi is so simple, so pure, it's almost transparent. You might borrow a phrase from Thumper and say it's downright twitterpated. --Robert Horton
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