Bambi Review
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These days, it’s cool to be green. It’s hip to recycle—and to care about the plants and animals that share our planet. But, back in 1942 (while most of the world was more concerned about World War II than fawns in the forest), Walt Disney presented his own environmental message with his animated classic, Bambi.

Bambi is a kind of coming-of-age film—only with adorable woodland creatures instead of confused teenagers. From the moment that Bambi is born, all of the woodland creatures know that he’s special—the new prince. As he grows up in the forest, he’s nurtured and encouraged not only by his loving mother but by the other animals, too—from the wise old Friend Owl to the birds, rabbits, and chipmunks who live around him.

Bambi makes plenty of woodland friends, too—like Thumper, a curious and outspoken young rabbit, and Flower, a shy little skunk. Together, they learn and play and explore the forest. But little do they know the kind of danger that lurks nearby.

Disney’s Bambi taught about the beauty of nature and the serious threat that people pose to living creatures long before green was cool. And the result is a beautiful film that tells and unforgettable story while celebrating nature—the bright-colored splendor of a flower-filled meadow in spring, the stunning palette of the forest in the fall, the crispness of a snowy winter morning.

The animation is striking, painted in tones that fit the season and the mood, with characters that look remarkably realistic. Though it doesn’t have the same kind of high-tech animation or flashy 3D graphics that films have today, the film’s painted landscapes have their own simple beauty.

While the artful animation is definitely a draw, though, the lovable characters make Bambi a memorable classic. From sweet, innocent Bambi to his eager little friend, Thumper, the young animals are so much like real kids—in the things they say and the way they learn, explore, interact, and play. Though the film is short and the story is pretty plain and simple, it’s still impossible not to fall in love with them.

But, of course, Bambi isn’t just a light, playful cartoon about fawns and birds and bunnies. It also gives a strong environmental message, touching on serious (and sometimes, for younger viewers, rather traumatizing) topics like hunting and forest fires. At times, the barrage of true-to-life tragedies feels relentless, but the tragic moments make the film unforgettable (for better or for worse)—and you’ll definitely walk away from it with an urge to do what you can to protect the defenseless Bambis and Thumpers who live in the forest.

With its lovable characters and memorable moments, Walt Disney’s classic nature drama is a sweet little film that’s not to be missed.

Blu-ray Review:
Like most of Disney’s Diamond Edition releases, the Bambi Blu-ray release is loaded with hours of extras. There are so many, in fact, that the included navigational map often comes in handy.

Blu-ray extras include a pair of deleted scenes, a deleted song (“Twitterpated”), and interactive galleries. Young viewers will want to check out Disney’s Big Book of Knowledge: Bambi Edition, in which Friend Owl teaches kids about life in the forest during the four seasons, with simple games and quizzes mixed in. And grown-up fans will be fascinated by Walt’s Story Meetings, a kind of interactive commentary track that features original sketches and dramatizations of original story meetings.

The disc also includes the original DVD features, with two additional deleted scenes, archive footage, and a lengthy making-of feature, which offers more insight into the story (including several additional scenes that were eventually cut), the animation, and the filmmaking process.

The Bambi Blu-ray release doesn’t have a whole lot of features for kids, but if you’re fascinated by the animation process—or film history in general—you won’t want to miss the behind-the-scenes extras. I recommend starting with Tricks of the Trade for a quick animation how-to. Then, if you have more time, check out the making-of feature and at least some of Walt’s Story Meetings.

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