After a couple films in a row that I wasn’t really familiar with, we make it to a film I’ve seen many, many times with Bambi.
My first impression is that this film is beautiful. It’s one of the best-looking animated works I’ve ever seen. I’ve mentioned that some of the previous films‘ backgrounds are soft and reminiscent of watercolours, and that’s the case here, as well, but Bambi has probably the most elaborate yet. The character animation is, needless to say, fluid throughout, and I imagine it took a lot of work to get such a variety of animals to all look right. The animation doesn’t go into any of the weird, experimental stuff I usually like; the closest it comes to something like “Pink Elephants” is in Bambi’s fight with a rival deer near the end. However, it does remind me of Fantasia‘s Tchaikovsky segment with the lush colours and use of lighting, so I would consider this as a culmination of everything the studio had been working towards so far in animation technique.
As a child, I found Bambi a little boring, and it was one of my least-favourite Disney films. Rewatching it now, I honestly can’t blame my younger self, since the first two-thirds or so of the film is basically just animals doing stuff, and there’s not a narrative to speak of. This is not necessarily a bad thing, of course; one could call it “slice-of-life in the forest,” almost. However, it’s not the type of film that I prefer. The second portion of the film, roughly the last third of the runtime, moves forward at a rocket’s pace to the end, which makes the film as a whole feel unbalanced.
The transition, of course, is that famous scene where Bambi’s mother gets shot. It comes out of nowhere, but is very effective – the two of them hear something, start running, we hear a couple gunshots but don’t see anything, and suddenly Bambi is alone. Not seeing it happen, and Bambi’s father explaining that his mother is dead just matter-of-factly, prevents much sentimentality, and makes the scene much more powerful.
I’ll also say that between that scene and Bambi’s father’s comments when the two of them see a hunting camp must make this film a favourite among environmentalists.