When I was a kid, watching this movie was like torture. It was SO FREAKING BORING. Like Dumbo, there are only certain parts that I remembered as a kid. mostly they were the parts with Thumper, because he’s awesome. The rest of it, until I was an adult, I found myself falling asleep during. While this is a kids movie, it can be argued that, like Fantasia, this is one of Walt’s more dramatic masterpieces, suitable and understood more by adults than children.
Based on the book Bambi: a Life in the Woods by Austrian author Felix Salten, It, like the movie, follows the life of a white-tailed deer named Bambi, starting with his birth in the forest. We follow him through childhood as he learns about the forest, through hardships as he loses his mother, and into adulthood as he finds a mate and deals with the great villain that is “man.”
The plot is simple enough. In all honesty, not much happens. That is part of the charm, and part of the reason I think people really love this movie. It gives us a glimpse into something so simple: the life of a simple deer in the forest. But what Disney does in the process is gives us a glimpse not only into the beauty of the forest, but the beauty of discovery. He gives us a glimpse into our own childhood, and what nature can do for our curiosity. It puts the humanity into common animals.
The book was touted as the first environmental novel published. Having never read the book, I believe this movie does it justice. The backgrounds of the forest are beautifully painted. This movies takes its time to show you the beauty of a leaf falling to the ground, or something so simple as a spring storm. Things that we overlook are painted in such beauty that we can’t help but be mesmerized. In a time and age where technology reigns and people are so rushed, I believe this movie becomes even more important. It reminds us that there is beauty in EVERYTHING.
The characters are ok I guess. Like Dumbo, I really feel like there could have been more character development, or more personality given to Bambi. He’s a bit of a forgettable character. More people seem to remember Thumper than Bambi, and it’s with good reason. Bambi is just there. He’s shy and naive, and almost represents the innocence of childhood and the innocence that is in all of us.
Thumper, on the other hand, almost is the kid we all knew. He has a good heart, likes to have fun, but is a bit of a troublemaker. But at the same time he’s super innocent too. He’s just is a kid. Sometimes he says things that aren’t nice. Sometimes he wants to eat the flower on the clover first. We also have a skunk named Flower, and he’s just… sweet. We don’t get to know him much, but he’s adorable. I think Disney was trying to change people’s minds about skunks.
Bambi’s mother is possibly the best mother in all of Disney – dom (probably partially because she’s one of the few mothers that’s actually IN a disney movie that we get to sort of know…). She loves her son, and she’s always there to keep him safe and answer his questions. She’s patient and teaches him the important things in life that he must know. This is part of the reason it is so sad when she is eventually shot by the hunter. She sacrificed her life to save her son. It’s what all mothers would do. Is it scarring for children? uh… i really don’t think so. I dunno. That scene is synonymous with horrible death scene in our culture and with scarring your childhood. I can understand how it would affect a lot of people, but I dunno, I always had a sort of “Chandler Bing” reaction to it (Yes, it was all very sad when they stopped Drawing the deer…)(yes, I’m a giant Friends fan…). It’s sad and all, but emotionally scarring? not really… Mufasa was much worse.
I actually adore the father. I know he’s barely there and barely says two words the entire movie, but I LOVE that he’s just sort of this enigma. He’s the oldest deer in the forest, so they call him the “great prince of the forest.” I love that Bambi is his ONLY offspring (because seriously, with a rack (antlers) like he has, he should be siring ALL the babies – sorry, I am a biology person). I love that he’s strong and silent. He’s something to be reckoned with, and everyone knows it. I almost wish that we had seen a few scenes of him with his father growing up (yes, I know there’s a mid-quel… but I doubt it’s good nor I doubt it follows the original source material…). There were apparently parts in the book that had Bambi with his father. At the same time, I understand why they didn’t. It adds to the mystery that surrounds his father, and I kinda like it.
I do want to talk about one other thing, and that’s the whole thing that happens when they’re grown up. That’s right. I don’t know about all of you, but I think I was introduced to the whole idea of love through Twitter-pating. haha. It’s hilarious, because as Owl is explaining it, it does seem like the worst thing in the entire world. “you completely lose your head!” Sure it’s old fashioned, but it’s great. And then it happens to all of them. And there’s nothing you can do about it!! In reality, it’s part of growing up, once again, establishing that this movie really is about life in general
Bambi is a joy. Sure it’s not the most amazing plot or doesn’t have the most complex characters, but what it gets right is the atmosphere and the tone. that’s not a flaw: it was what Disney was going for, and he nailed it. This movie reminds us what it’s like to be a kid experiencing everything for the first time. It gives us a glimpse into the innocence of childhood and the beauty of the forest. That’s why I love it. I think that’s why a lot of people love it. Parts may be boring, but it is simply beautiful, charming, and you can’t help but love that little deer.
I give Bambi (1942) a 4 out of 5. I still can’t watch “April Shower” song without wanting to fall asleep….
Next: Cinderella (1950)*
*yes, I realize I said I didn’t own this movie. It’s actually a funny story….