Reviews: BAMBI

Bambi II (2006) Review

Disney sequels tend to have a rather cringeworthy status with fans, tending to be cheap cash ins of the nostalgic original films with none of their charm and elegance. Obviously when a sequel to the 1942 Bambi was announced, there were some wary reactions.

There is a key difference with this one however, and that's blatant effort. Bambi II has all the budget, elegance and subtlety of a proper cinema film (to the point it was one in regions such as Europe), and also cleverly serves as a companion piece to the original's story.

The film is basically an Interquel that charts the big gap in continuity between the death of Bambi's mother and his growth into adulthood. While one could expect this to be the perfect direction for Disney's marketing since it means they can utilise the cuter fawn Bambi (how much merchandise do you see of adult Bambi?) the writers actually make clever use of it, and use it to add Character Development between the title character and his mysterious father, The Great Prince.

While the "parent issues" plot is a predictable one, especially the sequels, it's done with proper nuance that a lot of examples lack. There isn't actually much impudent rebellion and sticking it to the old man and his overbearing rules (one reason The Lion King II: Simba's Pride irritated me). Besides one slightly melodramatic clash when things reach boiling point, the characters' dynamic remains more along the lines of a reserved but concerning Odd Couple pairing. Bambi remains a naive, demure little fawn who just wants to impress his father, who while genuinely caring for his son, hides in a load of inner demons and has his mysterious, stoic characterisation of the first film Deconstructed in it's awkwardness dealing with his emotional son.

In terms of cosmetics, the film looks lovely. It genuinely tries to capture the elegance of the forest landscapes the original did. It just doesn't have the same feel it had. The Interquel focuses more primarily on the cute (occasionally cloying) cartoon animal antics this time round, and while the animation and music is lovely, it's obviously far more contemporary (the most glaring cases being the vaster use of dialogue as well as country songs in place of the majestic choir songs of the first). It never has the same ambience of "Little April Showers" or the same chilling atmosphere whenever Man shows up. You have to give it credit, it damn well tries and it still has a palpable amount of soul and intensity to it, it's just not the art piece the first is.

If you want a true remake of what the original 1942 film stood for, you'll be disappointed. If you want a charming contemporary story featuring the Bambi cast, you'll likely be surprisingly satisfied. Despite being a cash cow from a marketing standpoint, the creative team made it into a genuine hark back to earnest and elegant filmmaking of their Renaissance era while Disney mainstream films themselves were undergoing a Dork Age.

Walt Disney's Bambi (1942) Review

Bambi has always been my favorite of all of Walt Disney's animated films. There really is no other film like it-it's beautifully drawn and animated, with jaw dropping backgrounds and lush, hazy art direction that makes it feel like a world of its own.

What also makes the film truly stand out from the other Disney films is its mood-establishing mood was what Disney was always best at, and this film is possibly the peak of that talent. When it feels happy, boy does it show. When it's sad, the feel is shared with the audience. The mood gives a whole new layer to the film, and it makes the forest itself feel like a character in and of itself.

The story is a simple one, which goes through the cycle of life, from the birth of the titular deer, the hardships he endures and the bonds he forms as he grows, to the end where he finally reaches the peak of his maturity.

The music is perfect-it goes hand in hand with the all around feel of the movie and offers some truly memorable songs and instrumentals. One of the favorite scenes is the spectacularly animated Little April Showers scene, as well as I Bring You A Song. The whole film's soundtrack reminds me very much of Gone With The Wind for some reason.

The characters are intentionally simplistic, but very true to their habits of what animals they were based on-not too literally, but the Disney staff really showed their work here. They're all memorable and likable, and their characterization is so sincere that we truly wind up caring for them. (as sappy as it comes off to some people)

Bambi is just one of those one of a kind films that will never be equaled-not even the midquel, as decent as it was, could have hoped to live up to its precursor. Its a true animated treasure in every sense of the word, and i will hold it deer (forgive the pun) to my heart forver. Even Walt Disney himself considered it his favorite film, and i am in agreement with him-it truly is his magnum opus, forever and forelong.

Rating: 10/10