The Fella and I made chicken tacos and watched the next installment (although we seriously contemplated venison or bison instead of chicken) the other night to much fond remembrance of woodland frolicking and the simple joys of baby animals. Before I get started, all joking aside, I love this movie. I have always loved this movie since I was a wee bairn. The sass in these Disney Odyssey posts comes from a place of love and respect for the Great and Bountiful Empire of the Mouse, not from disgust as it might seem. Please bear that in mind as we move forward with the Odyssey and know that my love for this is real.
The Movie: Bambi (1942)
- Based on Austrian novel “Bambi: A Life in the Woods” by Felix Salten. Fun fact: I actually found this book at a used book store when I was a kid and read it… I loved it. But then, I was hellbent on growing up to be a woodland creature of some kind, so anything that already put me in those shoes worked in my favor.
- Because the novel was Austrian, the deer were originally roe deer instead of white-tailed deer, but Disney changed it so that the deer would be American instead of European.
- The film won three Oscars: Best Sound, Best Original Score, Best Song (for “Love Is A Song”)
- It’s ranked #3 on the top ten best animated films of all time. Guess what the others on that list are, then click here to check your answers!
- While they were working on the film, the animators and crew would say “Man is in the forest” as code for “Walt Disney is in the building and coming down the hallway right this second.”
- Man, who is never seen in the film, was ranked #20 on the AFI top 100 Heroes & Villains list.
- Young actor Peter Behn (age 6) auditioned to voice several characters in the film, since much of the dialogue is performed by actual children instead of adults acting as children. Some of the casting folks hated his inflection, but others fought to have him cast; they ended up creating Thumper to suit him.
- The antlers of the Great Prince of the Forest had to be rotoscoped in instead of drawn; the animators were going insane trying to get it right. This is especially impressive pre-CGI and such.
- There are two asteroids named Bambi and Thumper.
- More animation cells were recycled from this than from any other Disney film: mostly background/stock bird footage and leaves falling and so on, but Bambi’s mom appears at the beginning of Beauty and the Beast, Bambi and his mother both are in The Rescuers, etc.
- The release was not an immediate success, so they re-released Snow White to cover the losses. It worked, and they re-released Bambi in 1947 to much better reception.
- [music plays over opening credits: “Love is a song that never ends…”] Me: “I don’t remember this. At all.” [music continues to play] The Fella: “….I don’t either. What IS this?”
- Classic Multi-Cell Establishing Shot through the forest… this actually looks a lot like the establishing shot for the 1982 animated film “The Last Unicorn.” I wonder if that was intentional…?
- This whole thing is dazzling. All of the animals, the green of the forest… man, I just wanted to be an animal so bad when I ws a kid. Part of it is just my nature (ba dum tshh) but also the fact that I grew up on the edge of a forest preserve and played in the woods allllllll the time when my brother and I were kids.
- “I LOVE THIS PART!” shrieks The Fella. It’s a mouse. The mouse washes its face with a drop of rainwater. Mousy moisturizer. It’s adorable!
- Enter the Thumper — and the Aly goes wild!!!! He is one of my longtime favorite Disney characters.
- Interestingly, there are no other real predators in this film other than Man and the hunting hounds. Where are the foxes and wolves and whatnot? Are they away at a conference? We assume they are absent because the film wanted to emphasize man’s impact on the woodland realm.
- Ah yes, the Aloof Father Trope. Thumper’s dad is missing except at the dinner table each night, Flower has no family to speak of, and Bambi’s dad is (spoiler!) the Great Prince whose job it is to be aloof and majestic and princely.
- “How far in are we?” asks The Fella. “About fifteen minutes,” I answer. “And still no plot,” he observes. “Well,” I point out, “Deer don’t do very much.”
- This movie is truly beautiful. Gorgeously drawn, gorgeously orchestrated. Almost any freeze frame could be hung above a mantlepiece or fireplace as fine art.
- Fun Fact: In the book, Faline was twin to another fawn named Gobo, who gets kidnapped by the hunters, domesticated, then returned to the wild. When more hunters come along, Gobo brags that he is one of them and goes to greet them…. only to be shot. Needless to say, Gobo did not make it to the film adaptation.
- Annnnnnnnnd the saddest moment in cinema history. Or one of them. But definitely one of the top ten saddest things ever. You never see the hunter, you never see the blood, you only hear the gun go off, and that’s it. Bye bye Mama Deer. Heartbreaking.
- There are less than a thousand words of dialogue in this film, and most of it is performed by child actors. That’s part of what makes the post-murder scene so heartwrenching: Bambi’s voiced by a real child.
- The Fella: “So wait, Flower basically went to sleep as a child… and woke up as an adult in the spring?” Me: “That’s a horror story if I ever heard one.”
- YESSSSS IT’S TWITTERPATED TIME! Best part of the whole movie! Everything about this whole sequence is gold. Seriously, I wish I could have been present for the writer’s room meeting where someone came up with the term ‘twitterpated.’
- “I used to think this fight was so cool when I was little!” says The Fella. Yeah, young robust deer locking antlers is terrifying in real life. They captured it pretty well for the movie, honestly. Also it’s awesome to see Bambi (who till now has been very quiet and awkward) take charge of the situation and fight for his lady love. Fun fact: the young buck Bambi totally neutralizes is named Ronno, and he’s a total butt even in the book.
- Oooh the wind debris is like Pocahontas later on!
- Can we talk about the fact that Bambi and the Great Prince running through the fire could be over-dubbed with the dialogue from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and no one would be able to tell the difference? Well, maybe they would. But it made us laugh.
- And to show that life goes on, Thumper appears with his brood of children to witness the two new fawns born to Faline… thus breaking the cycle of Aloof Dads for rabbits. Bambi himself needs to continue his Jedi training and be aloof and majestic.
Commedia Bonus: 15! That Twitterpated section is a doozie…but also the iceskating section and most of Bambi learning to walk and function in society.
And on a completely different note, I can’t not mention one of the best Animaniacs cartoons they ever did, which was a tribute to Disney’s Bambi and how it traumatized children everywhere since its release.
N-n-n-n-n-next up: Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros! We’re going to double up since they’re shorter films.
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