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Dustin Putman

Bambi  (1942)

Reviewed for by Dustin Putman

The Film
4 Stars
(Release Date: June 6, 2017) – What can be said about "Bambi" that hasn't been said before? Walt Disney's fifth full-length animated feature (following 1937's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," 1940's "Pinocchio" and "Fantasia," and 1941's "Dumbo") is a perennial classic, as universal and resounding in 2017 as it was 75 years ago. Based on the 1923 Austrian novel "Bambi, a Life in the Woods" by Felix Salten, the film tracks from birth to adulthood the rites of passage of a white-tailed deer who learns of both the bliss of growing up and the hard truths of living as a prey animal in the forest.

Sweet and charming and sad and ultimately extraordinary, "Bambi" is enchanting for all ages while refusing to shirk away from subjects involving parental loss and the dangers of the world. Director David Hand and his team of sequence directors have created a slice-of-life of transcendence and beauty, one lovingly animated in hand-drawn strokes that bring Bambi, his beloved Mother, exuberant rabbit friend Thumper, bashful skunk pal Flower, young fawn Faline, the legendary Great Prince of the Forest, and their woodland surroundings to radiant light. "Bambi" is an "anytime" gem; no matter when or how many times a viewer watches it, the film never becomes stale or loses its power. If anything, it only grows deeper and wiser as one gets older.

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

"Bambi" was originally released on Blu-ray in 2011 courtesy of Disney's now out-of-print "Diamond Edition." For this reissue, the latest in the Mouse House's "The Signature Collection" series, the same 1080p transfer has been carried over. This is in no way, shape or form a bad thing; the film looked stupendous in high-def then, and it continues to look like a million bucks. Magnificently restored for the format, each image appears to simultaneously be brand new and a glimpse into the studio's animated past. Colors are lush and vibrant, while lines are clean and assured. There is no print damage or age-related blemishes to be found; the visuals appear as fresh today as they no doubt did in 1942. Watching the glory of what has been brought to screen in high-definition, it is easy to be astonished by the immersive, entrancing results.

Two audio options are provided: the original soundtrack courtesy of a Dolby Digital 2.0 presentation, and the updated but still faithful DTS-HD High Resolution 7.1 surround track. The 7.1 offering opens up the depth of the sound design, from Fred Churchill and Edward Plumb's gently profound music score, to the peripheral woodsy sounds that give Bambi's world a lived-in absorption, to dialogue that is consistently clear and even modulated. Back channels are not terribly active, but used in more subtle yet effective ways to open up the breadth of the soundfield.

Blu-ray Features
*Please note, new bonus content specific to this release will be marked with an all-caps "NEW"
  • Three ways to view the film: the Original Theatrical Edition (1:09:50, HD) in 1.35:1 aspect ratio with black sidebars; the Disney View presentation (1:09:50, HD) featuring the art of Lisa Keene on the sidebars; and the "Inside Walt's Story Meetings: Extended Edition" (1:35:55, HD) experience, a picture-in-picture track delving into the genesis, planning and creation of the project, along with archival footage, vintage production photos, sketches and concept art, and much more
  • NEW "Studio Stories: Bambi" Featurette (4:56, HD)
  • NEW Deleted Scenes (7:25, HD)
  • NEW Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: "Africa Before Dark" Animated Short (5:50, HD)
  • NEW "The Bambi Effect" Featurette (3:00, HD)
  • NEW "Bambi Fawn Facts" Featurette (3:34, HD)
  • NEW "The Golden Age" Featurette (6:24, HD)
  • Deleted Scenes (5:39, HD)
  • Deleted Song: "Twitterpated" (1:52, HD)
  • "The Making of Bambi: A Prince is Born" Featurette (53:15, SD)
  • "Tricks of the Trade (Excerpt)" Featurette (7:18, SD)
  • "Inside the Disney Archives" Featurette (8:39, SD)
  • The Old Mill (8:58, SD), the Oscar-winning 1937 "Silly Symphonies" animated short
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (2:12, SD)
Bottom Line
Disney's new Signature Collection Blu-ray release of "Bambi" is a keeper. While those who already purchased the Diamond Edition will have to decide if the additional special features are enough for a double dip (the video and audio remain identical to the previous release), Disney enthusiasts and completists will likely want to purchase. This is a wonderful release of one of the great animated films of all time, and should be essential for all home video libraries. Highly, affectionately recommended.

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© 2017 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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