Thumper: Whatcha gonna call him? Bambi's Mother: Well... I think I'll call him... Bambi. Thumper: Bambi... Yep, I guess it sounds alright. Bambi's Mother: Bambi... My little Bambi...
Released on August 9, 1942, Bambi is the fifth movie in the Disney Animated Canon. It's based on Bambi, a Life in the Woods (Bambi. Eine Lebensgeschichte aus dem Walde) a 1923 novel by Austrian author Felix Salten.The movie is a Coming-of-Age Story that follows the titular character, a young white-tailed deer, from birth to adulthood in the forests of Maine (we think, see below). It is one of Disney's most artistic films, with art and effects that are still amazing today and mind-blowing for their time. To this day the film holds a solid 91% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It is said to be Walt Disney's personal favorite of his films.A Direct-to-VideoMidquel, Bambi II, was released in 2006, 64 years after the original. It focuses on the period of Bambi's life immediately following his mother's death. Apparently this was a more interesting story to tell than the book's actual sequel, which had already been adapted by Disney into a comic. (Said comic has long since been out of print and is now a highly sought after collector's item.)While Bambi II was much better received than typical direct-to-video fare, it barely manages to hold a measly 56% "Rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a sharp contrast from its precursor which it has inevitably been compared to by critics.There is a spin off series of books centred around Thumper's family when he was a baby. It's called "Disney Bunnies".Trope Namer of Bambification.Now has a character sheet.
An Aesop: Faline's brother Gobo (who is exclusive to the novel) appears to have been killed by a hunter in the same winter Bambi's mother died only to return some time later as a full grown deer, and it turns out a human family had saved his life. (He was dying of starvation by the time he was taken away.) But as a result he had lost his fear of humans. The next time the hunters came to the woods, Gobo was the first to go. This is Felix Salten's commentary on keeping wild animals like deer as pets.
False Friend: Gobo fatally assumes that because he was rescued by Man, they would all be a friend to him. Unafraid and ignoring Bambi's and Faline's urges to flee, he approaches a hunter in the meadow, only to be shot at moments later. Gobo, realizing what's happening, tries to run but it is too late. Poor Gobo.
Humans Are Cthulhu: The animals believe that humans are some kind of gods. Near the end, the Prince shows Bambi the corpse of a man who was shot by someone. Bambi then realizes that humans aren't all-powerful beings, but mortal creatures like the animals.
Midquel: The novel recieved an obscure Spin-Off called "Perri: The Youth of a Squirrel", a story about a red squirrel that takes place during the events of Bambi, and Bambi himself makes a cameo appearance. Disney would make a live action adaptation for their True Life Adventures series in the 1950's.
Stranger in a Familiar Land: Gobo. When Bambi and Faline reunite with him after long thinking him dead, Gobo explains his absence: During the past winter siege by Man, Man found the injured young Gobo, nursed him back to health and was treated like a member of his family, and released him back into the wild in spring. Now sporting a horsehair braid around his neck, Gobo regards Man as a personal friend and no longer recognizes the cautionary practices the rest of the forest dwellers use, much to their - and Bambi's - consternation.
Although it seems he still considers them his friends, despite nearly killing them both.
Tropes the first film provides examples of
Adaptation Species Change: The original Bambi was a roe deer in Germany but here he's a white-tailed deer to fit the North American setting of the movie.
Adaptational Villainy: The hunters in the film are explicitly reckless and thoughtless — they spray the landscape with bullets while shooting at everything that moves, and their ill-tended campfire sets half the forest ablaze. Bambi's mother, shot in early spring, is clearly the victim of a poacher.
Affectionate Parody: Given how iconic the movie is, there have been numerous parodies, including;
The Calvin and Hobbes comics took two shots at this film-in the first one, Calvin is standing in front of a mirror, putting his hands together and pretending to ask his mother if she could give him a flamethrower by saying please softly. He then tries saying it with doe eyes. Hobbes then walks over and tells him that giving mom "Bambi eyes" isn't going to help. In the second strip, Calvin tells his class the story from his report about overpopulation. In the story, a man named Frank gets up from his desk and walks off to get some coffee. Suddenly, Frank gets shot. Four deer, armed with rifles, gather around his body. They praise Bambi's nice shot, who asks for somebody to get the camera.
MAD TV did a similar skit to the above called Zombi.
All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": What's weird is that the infamous death scene is the only scene anyone seems to remember. Also, it seems that nobody is aware that Bambi ever grows older. Disney isn't particularly helping, however, as there is almost no merchandise portraying Bambi as an adult, and Bambi II is actually a midquel and not a sequel as already mentioned.
Which is ironic, given that the original advertisements for the film in 1942 did the exact opposite, showing only the third act and playing up the romance between Bambi and Faline as well as the final confrontation with the hunters. In this case, it is the child Bambi that is not even mentioned.
Even with Bambi's mother dying, the film's tone is significantly lighter than the novel's (it was written for adult audiences), which was much darker and more brutal, including graphic death scenes.
First off, in the original novel Bambi and Faline are cousins, but in the film it was changed so that they're not blood related. However, Faline's mother is called "Aunt Ena" for some reason.
Weirdly enough, the fact that Bambi and Faline are cousins has been included in a few storybook adaptations of the movie.
Thumper, Flower, and Friend Owl were created entirely for the film - Walt wanted to tone down the dark, brutal mood of the novel in the adaptation to allow it to appeal to a wider audience, so he brought Bambi's friends in as comic relief to make the film Lighter and Softer.
In the original version of the aftermath of the death of Bambi's mother, they were going to have Bambi find the impression where his mother fell and show that her body had been dragged off, but Walt Disney cut this from the film as he thought it would be too much for the younger audience to handle.
An even darker example would be near the end, when they were going to have a scene similar to the novel where Bambi and his father find the corpse of a man whose gun backfired on him, but when a early version of this was shown to a test audience, "400 people shot up into the air when the corpse appeared". Needless to say, it never made it beyond a test screening.
Even more interesting is that in the infamous death scene, they were also going to show Bambi's mother getting shot ON-SCREEN. However, this never made it beyond a few sketches◊, because the scene was dark enough as it was.
The omission of Faline's brother Gobo, who is killed because of his trust for humans.
Also, a non-gory example: Bambi and Faline are not so much in love as they are habitually attached. They separate whenever it's not mating season and Bambi watches her age and become sad and lonely from afar and thinking about the sweet, happy little fawns they once were.
DVD Commentary: The 2005 DVD release of Bambi had re-enactments of the story meetings between Disney and his story men as one of the several bonus features. The movie itself played in a window on the corner while the rest of the screen showed preliminary artwork.
Family-Unfriendly Death: Bambi's mother is shot dead by hunters when she and her son are looking for food in the winter snow. A whole generation of kids was traumatized. Now, movies for kids should not be all sanitized pink happy affairs. But the death of a parent is quite disturbing to any six-year-old. This one is fairly famous for all the denial associated therewith. It gets worse. Originally, Bambi was going to go back later, and find his mother lying in a pool of blood, but the idea was scrapped, both because it was too cruel and because it wouldn't make sense for a hunter to score a deer and then just leave it in the woods.
Humanlike Hand Anatomy: Largely averted. Aside from Friend Owl, who switches from regular wings to Feather Fingers when needed, the only characters to have human-like hands are Flower and his girlfriend, and that is mostly based on a real skunk's anatomy.
Passing the Torch: The film's conclusion. Bambi and the Great Prince stand watch on the cliff-top, then the Great Prince turns to his son and share a silent look before the former walks away, thus leaving Bambi alone as the new Great Prince.
Puppy-Dog Eyes: AKA "Bambi Eyes", in the film's case. Especially when he learned his mother is gone.
Pop Culture Osmosis: It helps to be one of the oldest Disney films in the canon. Also, there is probably not a single person in the western world that does not know Bambi's mother dies.
Satellite Love Interest: Faline doesn't really have much in the way of personality other than being a Genki Girl as a fawn, but even that is lost when she grows up. The midquel fleshes her out. Likewise, neither Thumper's nor Flower's love interests have any personality, though they only appear very briefly.
Not true; Faline, Aunt Ena, and a few other minor deer all survive, and others, such as Thumper and Flower, do not exist in the novel (but Thumper/Friend Owl's Composite Character Friend Hare doesn't make it).
Sort of. Disney occasionally likes to recycle and will reuse animation if they need to. This has prompted the Fandom saying, "Bambi's mother lives!!!" Also, Bambi and his mother made a brief speaking cameo in the Donald Duck short "No Hunting".
Some animation of adult Bambi and Faline was recycled for a brief scene in Mary Poppins.
Time Skip: Occurs in the first movie right after the infamous death scene, transitioning to some point in the future where Bambi has grown up. The midquel helps to patch up this gap.
Too Dumb to Live: Averted somewhat. One of the birds was so scared and desperate she tries to fly away as Man comes closer. She ends up getting her head shot off (at least, that's how it seems). Also Gobo was this in the book as previously mentioned.
Tropes Bambi II provides examples of
Accidental Kiss: At the end of the movie, a porcupine from earlier decides to prick Bambi in the behind (this happened earlier, too), causing him to leap forward and end up smooching Faline. She doesn't seem to mind.
Bratty Half-Pint: Thumper and Ronno (though it fades for both in the presence of their mothers).
Brick Joke: While Bambi and friends are practicing roars, Flower sincerely says that he thinks turtles are scary. Just near the end, Ronno has an unfortunate run in with a turtle clinging to his nose, which Flower saying it proved his point.
Call Forward: When Bambi and co. first meet Ronno, he nervously asks what the hurry is, "Forest fire?"
Near the end, Friend Owl grumpily mentions Twitterpation when Bambi and Faline kiss. When Flower asks, Friend Owl says he'll tell him about it when he's older. Before that, Friend Owl remarks to Bambi that he almost didn't recognize him without his spots, similar to a scene midway through the first film.
At one point, Ronno tries to push Faline away from Bambi using his antlers.
Calling the Old Man Out: Bambi gets really upset when he abruptly discovers that his father was going to send him to live with a stepmother, and gives this to him in one or two full sentences, accusing him of only caring about him being the next prince of the forest, and not caring about him as a son. It also makes sense from a narrative standpoint, since Bambi had been spending a good chunk of the film trying to earn his fathers approval and finally started to bond with him, only for Friend Owl to break the news to him at the worst possible time.
Bambi: I wish mother was here instead of you!
Character Development: While the midquel humanizes the characters more than the original, it also makes the characters personalities a little more rounded and three dimensional than previously. Bambi becomes more assertive, but without losing his demure qualities. Thumper becomes more of a Bratty Half-Pint with a Motor Mouth, and the Great Prince becomes less cold and distant and more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Even characters who barely had any characterization in the first film, such as Faline, Flower and Ronno are fleshed out in it.
Chekhov's Skill: Bambi's pathetic "roar" and Thumper's "gurr" faces. In the climax, when Flower makes his "scaredest" one he actually sprays into a hunter dog's face, leaving Bambi with one less enemy to run away from. Bambi uses his bleating to distract the hunter dogs from Mena.
Cold Open: Besides that the film literally starts off in the dead of winter, it takes place immediately after the midway point in the first film where Bambi's mother died, setting up Bambi moving in with his father, and Friend Owl persuading him to take care of Bambi until he can find a suitable doe, taking several minutes before we even get to the title.
Continuity Snarl: A minor one, but just near the end when Bambi loses his spots, Friend Owl remarks that he almost didnt recognize him without them. It's meant to be a Call Forward to Friend Owl meeting a grown up Bambi in the original film, but it makes it seem like he forgot he ever saw Bambi without spots in the first place!
Everything's Worse with Bees: Played straight in the midquel. At one point, the trio gets chased away by a swarm of bees, and The Great Prince has a near encounter with a hornets nest (but Bambi points it out to him, saving him the trouble of dealing with those pests.)
Five Stages of Grief: Handled quite realistically. Bambi goes through denial, is nearly killed as a result, and comes to terms with his mother's death, while his father spends the movie struggling to bottle up his own grief.
Foreshadowing: At one point, Thumper laments that Bambi's new life with his father means he never has time for his friends anymore. Without a trace of sarcasm, Faline calls this "wonderful." Adulthood will find Bambi observing Faline and their new fawns from a distance, with Faline apparently fine with this.
Heroic BSOD: Bambi literally freezes in terror at the sight of man's hunting dogs, but the Great Prince snaps him out of it just in time before the hunter can shoot him.
Heroic Sacrifice: Bambi willingly puts himself in danger by distracting a pack of hunting dogs away from Mena and having them chase him instead.
Jerkass: Ronno and the Porcupine, the latter of whom is exclusive to Bambi II. In the porcupines case, he's just very grumpy and territorial, while Ronno is an out and out bully.
Kick the Dog: Ronno does this to Bambi just near the climax of the film, deliberately goading him into a fight by openly mocking him by insinuating that he's such an embarrassment to his father that he would "give him away" to another doe. Bambi does not take it well.
Late-Arrival Spoiler: Bambi's mother's death, since the entire plot of the midquel is centered on the consequences of it, and the fact that the Great Prince is his father.
Mocking Sing Song: Thumper. When Bambi is trying to improve his jumping skill to impress his father, Thumper mocks him to ensure he'll make the jump.
Thumper: You're too afraaaiid, you cannot juuuuummmp, na na na na na, na, na, na, na na...
Moose Are Idiots: A grouchy porcupine insults the Great Prince by calling him a "Big Moose".
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Friend Owl eventually finds a suitable doe to raise Bambi far away, but unintentionally drops the news to Bambi and his father at the worst possible time, just when they started bonding, which causes a brief rift between Bambi and his father before he sends him away. Bambi does reconcile and accept his fate, even before his father sends him off though.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: If Ronno hadn't goaded Bambi into fighting him, which in turn unintentionally caused Mena to fall into a hunters trap and prompt Bambi to rescue her by distracting a pack of hunting dogs at the risk of his own life, Bambi wouldn't have reunited with his father and friends.
Oh, Crap: The Great Prince when he sees the glare of a hunters rifle scope in the distance.
Retcon: The opening, which recreates the scene of Bambi finding his father after his mother died, deliberately leaves out the line of dialogue from the original that has him call Bambi his son, for the sake of the films narrative.
Scare Cord: During the scene where the Great Prince rescues Bambi from a pack of hunting dogs, this is used when he sees a glint on the targeting lens of the hunter's rifle way off in the distance.
Smug Snake: Ronno when he's teasing Bambi, especially near the end of the film.
Start of Darkness: Ronno gets this due to his expanded role compared to the first film. He starts off as a bratty Attention Whore, and escalates into a bully and full blown rival to Bambi.
Tragic Dream: Bambi early on has some hope of seeing his mother alive again, but it crumbles when it nearly gets him killed by a hunter.
Adaptation Species Change: In the original novel, Bambi and the other deer were Roe Deer, but in the films they were White-Tailed Deer because the films were set in North America where there are no Roe Deer.
Upon the re-translation into German however, the terminology for the deer was completely mixed up, leading to what is commonly known as the Bambi-Lüge or Bambi-Irrtum. The German m/f/child terms for deer in general are Hirsch/Hirschkuh/Hirschkalb, while those specific to the Roe Deer species ("Reh") are Rehbock/Reh(geiß)/(Reh)Kitz. The German film translation however reverted to calling Bambi and his mother by the roe deer terms, while the father was left with the Hirsch befitting his looks. This resulted not only in people confusing what the respecive species looked like, but more importantly in thinking that the terms for a deer nuclear family were Hirsch/Reh/Kitz; generations of people were thusly miseducated, and it keeps on spreading, while often refusing correction.
Adaptational Villainy: Ronno in both films. In the novel, he's actually Bambi's friend and has a larger role in the story. In the first movie, he only appears in one scene and is portrayed as a very one dimensional, non speaking villain. The midquel expands his role, but also reveals he was a cowardly bully and Attention Whore who is an out and out enemy of Bambi.
Angry Hunting Dog: They're just another threat in the films. In the book, the dogs are considered traitors to their own kind.
Bambi saves Faline from a pack of hunting dogs by his late in the first film.
The Great Prince saves Bambi from getting shot by a hunter and his dogs in the midquel.
Big Good: The Great Prince of the Forest and later Bambi himself.
The Cameo: Bambi himself actually makes an appearance in person in the crowd of toons in the ending of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and in one scene early in the film, Thumper is mentioned by Roger himself to be his uncle.
Also, JudgeDoom was originally planned to be the killer of Bambi's mother in a shocking revelation. It ultimately never made it into the final film unfortunately.
Also, Bambi makes a cameo (as a silhouette) in the end of The Lion King 1 1/2.
Bambi and his mom cameo in the Disney Classic Short No Hunting.
As with many characters of Disney Animated Canon, Bambi and other characters from the original film frequently cameo as audience members in House of Mouse.
Bambi's mom can also be seen as the deer Shere Khan is hunting in The Jungle Book, to the bottom right in the first frame of the prologue to Beauty and the Beast, and her and Bambi both shows up during the song "Someone's Waiting For You" in the first Rescuers movie. All of these appearances are the animation of she and Bambi eating grass before the infamous death scene.
Earn Your Happy Ending: While the first half of the film doesn't invoke this trope, the second half plays it brilliantly. First loses his mother; later he goes through a tough fight for his mate (but wins). Then he gets chased after by dogs, gets shot...AND has to get back up and run. And his home gets destroyed by a forest fire. But the film ends with a healthy new forest some time later, the birth of Bambi's children, and Bambi finally assuming the mantle of The Great Prince of the Forest, the latter done without any words being spoken. This trope is played to such an extent that it's likely this is one of the films that particularly inspired Don Bluth, practically the king of said trope in animated movies.
The midquel only extends these hardships to greater heights! Bambi is forced to cope with the loss of his mother and he tries to earn the love of his father, only to be given away to a stepmother (on the grounds that his father believes that he has no business raising children, ironically). He also ends up getting stung by a porcupine, and he risks his life to save his would-be-stepmom from a pack of hunting dogs, and after a long chase scene it ends with the dogs defeated...and him falling off a high cliff. Despite early impressions, he survives and finally earns the love and affection of his father, who finally accepts Bambi as his child, without any words being spoken. The film also ends with Bambi getting an accidental smooch from Faline, and his father showing him where he and Bambi's mother first met.
In other words, poor Bambi suffered too much throughout his life!
Enclosed Space: the story is set entirely in the boundaries of the forest, which the characters never leave.
He Who Must Not Be Seen: Thumper's father, who never once appears on-screen in either films, even though Thumper's mother constantly brings up one of his Green Aesops if Thumper is ever giving her trouble or causing it. Man is also included.
Humanlike Foot Anatomy: Flower the skunk has feet that look like human feet and Thumper and other rabbits have footpads.
Jerkass: Bambi's father, mainly in the original film. He says barely 5 sentences to his son throughout the entire film and all of them make him sound distant, demanding and utterly disappointed in his son. The midquel still has traces of this, but make it a plot point that his character softens throughout the film.
Kissing Cousins: Bambi and Faline in the original novel. Bambi and Faline are still listed as cousins in some licensed books based off the Disney version. Whether or not it's canon in the movies but never mentioned is unknown.
Leitmotif: Love is a Song and a snippet of I Bring You A Song in the original film.
Love is a Song also pops up as a leitmotif in the midquel, as well as an all new leitmotif (apparently not named) for scenes with Bambi and his father.
Lighter and Softer: The original film when compared to the original novel, and the midquel when compared to the original film. Tie in material to the films usually play up the more cute, sentimental elements of them, leaving out the darker elements.
Nothing Is Scarier: You never once see Man in either of the films (although he/they ARE seen in the novels on occasion) but that makes him (they?) more terrifying than your usual Disney villain. Man is the second highest-ranking Disney villain in "AFI's 100 Heroes and Villains", surpassed only by the Queen from Snow White.