At Home, BluRay/DVD Reviews

BAMBI ANNIVERSARY EDITION (Disney)

By • Jul 23rd, 2017 •

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Blu/Ray & DVD review by Roy Frumkes

A few things I didn’t know about BAMBI:

Jane Randolph, who lent a realistic anchor to two of Val Lewton’s early 40s poetic horror flix, CAT PEOPLE and CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE, was an uncredited ice skating model.

Wah Chang – who contributed effects work to several of George Pal’s films including THE TIME MACHINE, THE 7 FACES OF DR. LAO, THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM, and even the Academy Award nominated TULIPS SHALL GROW – an anti-Nazi Puppetoon – did uncredited character maquettes.

John Hubley was an art director on the film, who later detached from the Disney company and the Disney style to do his own, independent, more aggressively experimental animated films such as the wondrous, Academy Award winning MOONBIRD (1959). This I actually knew, but I’m mentioning it because once, in the 1970s if memory serves, I found myself visiting Hubley’s ‘studio,’ which was really just a living room in a Manhattan apartment containing animation tables and editing equipment. Strolling around, I saw some animation rushes going by on the small screen of a table-top editing machine. I peered over a few people’s shoulders to watch the footage, until Hubley, noticing me, said in a slightly curt manner, “This is a private screening.”

BAMBI is one of Disney’s greatest films. It melds the narrative strengths of PINOCCHIO and the exhilarating, more abstract designs and riffs of FANTASIA. It utilized the supervisory gifts of several of ‘the old men,’ – Marc Davis, Ollie Johnston, Milt Kahl, Eric Larson, and Frank Thomas. It is one of several animated features you must own if your collection is to be complete.

Disney has released an ‘Anniversary Edition’ containing BluRay, DVD and Digital HD copies. The cover art, as with the last disc release, has Bambi interacting with a butterfly. In the previous cover he’s making eye contact with the insect; in the current release it’s sitting on his nose. On both covers, Thumper is a smiling presence, watching the antics of its friend.

The sound is full-bodied and mellifluous, the orchestral score very much the driving force in the narrative. At the four minute mark there are a few bars which are reprised, and re-orchestrated seventeen years later in DARBY O’GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE. Disney kept his music available for re-quoting in future productions.

Supplementals are copious, though not substantially different from those on the previous Diamond Edition release, except, or course, for the Digital HD copy. Interestingly, on the cover there is a sticker certifying that Rotten Tomatoes has judged the film ‘fresh.’

As if BAMBI needs any quality validation at this stage in its illustrious, immortal life!

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