The prince of the forest is born and we follow a year in his life as he grows from fawn to buck in “Bambi.” We see him learn to walk and play, fall in love; or become “twitterpated” as they say, and rise up to fight the enemy of the forest; in this case, Man or the Hunter.
This is the fifth movie of Disney’s Golden Age and the last to feature a full-length narrative until Cinderella in 1950. World War II was causing major problems for many industries during this time and the film industry was no different. Following “Bambi,” Disney would shift its focus to package films; films featuring multiple shorts to equal a feature length run time. But “Bambi” was a solid outing to wrap up Disney’s Golden Age.
The slow start to “Bambi” had me wondering what I had gotten myself into. Was this another film like “Dumbo,” one I didn’t particularly enjoy, where I would be disappointed the entire way through? The answer to that is no. I became more engaged as the film went on. Despite its slow start, “Bambi” was able to build along the way to keep me entertained. I really enjoyed the climactic battle as Bambi tries to save Feline from first Man; and then Man’s dogs. It’s not my favorite film of the Golden Age, that distinction still belongs to “Pinocchio,” but it’s not my least favorite film of this era either, that would be “Dumbo.”
I grew up in a family of hunters. I don’t view hunters themselves as villains. But, from the deer’s perspective, the hunters are absolutely villains. The hunters are trying to kill them and it doesn’t matter why, they want to live. I think hunters can appreciate “Bambi” if they use the Obi-Wan Kenobi method. It can be true from a certain point of view. And, the part where Man leaves a fire burning and that leads to the forest burning is absolutely a villainous act. All hunters are not villains, but the hunters in this film certainly are. And, any hunter that cares about conserving the land would hate the way the hunters behaved at the end of the film.
It’s interesting to see Walt Disney’s love for animals shine through in his films. The mouse is easy to understand. But, you can tell he, and other Disney filmmakers and animators, have a love for elephants and deer with the releases of “Dumbo” and “Bambi.” I like that the storyline is easy to follow and this film has given us some of the most iconic Disney creations in Bambi, Thumper and Flower. This is a solid film that I would recommend for the animal lover who hasn’t seen a well-remembered Disney film.