Bambi (1942)

bambi poster 1942 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Classic Disney

Too short and underdeveloped

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Bambi

Studio:  Walt Disney Animation Studios

Genre(s):  Animated/Family

Release Date(s):  August 9, 1942 (Premiere)/August 21, 1942 (US)

MPAA Rating:  G

bambi flower the skunk

Hey Flower…nice to meet you…let’s flashforward now

A prince has been born in the forest and his name is Bambi.  The world is a dangerous place and Bambi is learning the ways of the forest with the guidance of his mother.  With friends like Thumper, Flower, and a fawn named Faline, Bambi’s life is good.  As winter falls, Bambi finds himself alone after his mother makes the ultimate sacrifice to save him.  Now Bambi must fight to survive, and man could be a threat to the entire forest.

Directed by David Hand, Bambi is an animated family film.  The movie is fifth movie in the Walt Disney Animated Classic series following Dumbo in 1941 and is based on Felix Salten’s Bambi, A Life in the Woods from 1923.  Bambi underperformed in its initial release and some critics did not like that the film seemed to be an attack against hunters.  It received Academy Award nominations for Best Sound, Best Original Song (“Love Is a Song”), and Best Scoring of a Drama or Comedy.

Bambi is one of those traumatic Disney films.  I saw it as a kid in a rerelease in the theater and like so many before me, the “Run, Bambi, Run” scene was a lot for a kid to take…and sometimes probably kids’ first experience with death.  This is the biggest takeaway from Bambi…but the film is more than that scene.

bambi mother killed hunters

The moment bringing trauma to children

The problem with the movie is that the story is a bit lacking.  It feels like it moves at breakneck speed and ends with the tragedy of a lot of the forest burning (a post-fire scene shows everything is fine later).  Today the short film would be much longer in hopes of developing Bambi, his relationships, and his becoming an adult (as seen with other Disney movies like The Lion King).  Here, it feels too sped up and even Bambi’s friendships seem a bit shallow since he barely knew Thumper and Flower as presented in the film.

One of the fun aspects of Bambi is how Disney tries to deal with sex in the animal kingdom.  You have Bambi and his friends becoming “twitterpated” as the owl explains it.  It is presented as almost an illness that everyone goes through and dances around the ideas of maturing and what happens after Bambi and his friends go off with their new partners.  It wouldn’t have made sense to dive in deep, but it fits perfectly with a society that still had married couples sleeping in separate bed into the 1960s.

bambi fire ending twitterpated

Damn, girl. We’re about to get “twitterpated”

What cannot be faulted in Bambi is the art.  It manages to have the great character designs that are marketable and iconic while also having some of the best background and uses of light and dark to illustrate the fears of the characters.  From the ice field as Bambi’s mother meets her fate to the fire tearing through the forest as the animals try to flee, Bambi is an artistic masterpiece.

Bambi is a classic that must be seen.  As much as the scene with his mother gets talked about, I think the bird who freaks out and is shot down is just as scarring.  Kids can handle it though, and I don’t know if it is an attack against hunters as much as an opposing viewpoint…though by today’s standards that viewpoint might be more prevalent among viewers.  Bambi is a short watch and worth a revisit if you haven’t seen it in years.  It was followed by the straight-to-DVD movie Bambi II in 2006, but I actually prefer the semi classic “Bambi Meets Godzilla” from 1969.  Bambi was followed by Saludos Amigos in 1942.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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