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500 Five-Star: Bambi (1942)

November 2, 2011

 

I received Bambi as a Mother’s Day present this year, which means that after twenty years of not seeing it once, I have seen it three or four times in the last few months.  It’s very different to how I remembered.  Of course, everyone knows the mother/hunter scene, and the ice scene…but there is so much more to Bambi than that.  Story-wise, it turns out there isn’t actually a whole lot going on, but then that’s not what this film is about.  It’s more a meditation on nature, the life cycle of animals, and the dangers they face.  When you’re a child, all you really care about is how cute Thumper is…and then Bambi’s mother dies and you’re too warped to think about anything else.  I honestly couldn’t remember anything that happened following that scene.  Was I just too devastated to concentrate, or did I insist on the film being turned off?  Thankfully, as an adult (while still traumatised), I’m able to continue past that and enjoy the beauty and wonder of the whole film.  The thing that stands out now is just how incredible the animation is.  Little April Shower is a wonderful example of pictures and rhythm meeting eachother, showing off just how brilliant a medium animation can be, and that’s just one of the many highlights.  The use of colour and shade to demonstrate the various psychological stages of the animals, as well as life in the forest, is on a level probably not achieved by Disney since; this is a mature, challenging, and ambitious piece of work.  Bambi is simply beautiful and extraordinary, and one of the absolute best of Disney’s back catalogue.

Verdict:

Any exploration on the history of animated film should begin with Bambi.  A truly stunning piece of filmmaking.

*****

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