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CW's Review of Bambi

rated it: posted: Jan 30, 2012
Reviews: 51 | Reviewing Ninja
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When Disney made Fantasia, their original concept was to make a single Silly Symphony and they ended up making a feature film that was full of various short symphonies. While watching Bambi recently, I got the impression that the film was meant to be one long symphony, for music played such a large part to the narrative. Aside from Fantasia, it seemed like the music in each movie was incidental to the action; it was just there, waiting for the next actual song so that it could be of some use. It gave a body to the film without taking centre stage. But when I watched Bambi, I found myself really listening for once. Like how one marvels at the flowing of Pachelbelís Canon in D or enjoys the gentleness of Debussyís Clair de Lune and its representation of the night, if I closed my eyes I could hear a deerís movement in the orchestrations of the film. Light, graceful, kinda wobbly at first. The forest was full of music and it was ours to enjoy just as much as it was Bambiís.

And not just the sounds, but the sights were something to behold as well! The setting of Bambi was lush and beautiful, as you would expect from a movie that took place in a forest. Everything was green and full of life, so beautifully animated it made me wonder why anyone ever decided that hand-drawn animation is dead. If Bambi was the kind of movie that we as a human race were capable of making 70 years ago, just think of what we might be able to accomplish today.

I suppose weíd be better able to consistently colour the background characters. The majority of the cast, the artists seemed to have no problem applying the correct colours to, but Thumperís siblings kept altering their coats. During one scene, it looked like Thumper had three darker-furred siblings and two lighter-furred ones. As the scene continued, the darker-furred siblings somehow ended up with lighter fur, then some of them reverted to darker fur, and so on for the duration. Still, it was a minor quibble when the majority of the movie was wonderfully illustrated.

But alas, both the aural and visual stimuli hid a story that slapped you upside the head with anti-human propaganda. I think I can see why, though. Suppose you gave a herd of deer sentience and plopped them in the middle of a forest full of sentient rabbits and ducks and owls and frogs and anything else you can think of. This is a forest where each and every animal is living in harmony away from the influence of other predators. (Wait, whatís the owl supposed to eat? News flash, Disney: owls are predators.) Now introduce a species into the area who doesnít respect life and who tries to take it away as often as he can. Itís easy to see why the creatures of the forest had such a low opinion of man.

The movie unfortunately showed us only one side of man. Man is apparently a creature capable only of carelessly destroying everything around him (as shown when flames swept through the forest caused by an unattended bonfire), whose only purpose in life is to shoot at and kill anything that moves. While all the animals in the forest, even the owl, lived in peaceful harmony with each other, humans were the only characters shown to take lives during the entire film.

Then again, humans hadnít exactly been portrayed as very sympathetic before Bambi. From the boys at Pleasure Island in Pinocchio to the entire human cast of Dumbo, itís not like weíd had any reason to assume the best whenever a non-animal character appeared. Itís only natural that we were made the main villain of the otherwise all-animal Bambi.

Itís interesting that, not counting Fantasia, three of the first four movies of the Disney Animated Canon started with the birth of the titular character. Each movie followed its character as he (it was always a he, for some reason) explored the world and found his place in it. Pinocchio learned from his mistakes and in one shining moment of selflessness, he proved that he deserved to have his wish to be human granted. Dumbo discovered his hidden talent, which somehow redeemed his mother, and they enjoyed a heartfelt reunion.

Bambi, though, was content to just explore. He saw the world around him and had fun learning how to live, but that was the majority of the film. The first time he opened his eyes, you couldnít help but wonder what he was thinking. What is this place, filled with so many wonders?

Then, about halfway through the movie, tragedy struck and everyone spent maybe one or two minutes dwelling on it before moving on. I guess since Bambiís innocence ended that day, his childhood was considered to have ended as well, and so the next time we saw him, he was a full grown adult with a rather goofy adult male voice. Oh yeah, and Bambiís friends, the shy and effeminate (yet still male) skunk named Flower, and the loudmouthed rabbit Thumper both got equally goofy adult male voices.

Interestingly enough, now that Iím on the subject of the adult lives of the main cast, I think I may have found yet another candidate for the Inappropriately Sexy Cartoon Characters list. Sure, Disney had a fixation with inappropriately sexy fish in Pinocchio and Fantasia, but in Bambi it was an unnamed rabbit doe that flirted quite openly with the viewer while supposedly only flirting with Thumper.

I struggled to figure out how I wanted to rate this movie. The visuals alone were worth all four stars, minus a quarter star for the fluctuating colouring of Thumperís siblings. I took away a half a star for the way man was portrayed as a one-dimensional villain (even though at times the redneck population of the United States can be described exactly as such). And I took away another quarter star for the lack of a real story, but then granted a half a star back because I didnít feel the movie needed more than what it delivered.

And there you have it. You can think of it however you want, either as a four star movie that might not be as good as others, or the best three star movie youíll ever see. After doing the math, I ended up giving the movie three and a half. It was certainly the best Disney had to offer during their first five years or so of operation.

animated movie Bambi © Disney
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