Although not the best, at least Dumbo and Pinocchio had stories. Bambi suffers from the outset from not really having a plot. If you had to work out what this movie was about, it would be “deer grows-up.” There is a loose structure, using the seasons to help give the stages and frame the events in Bambi’s life, but aside from that it feels we are watching a demonstration in animation.
Disney had cornered the market in the 1930 and 1940s on animation and it seems as if each new movie was demonstrating their ability. That would probably have been enough in the 1940s but doesn’t cut it now so although Bambi is considered a classic, it just doesn’t hold-up in the same way by today’s standards.
Thats not to say the animation isn’t impressive. There is a style to Disney and a quality to their motion pictures, even when the format was still relatively new, that is unquestionable and held to such a high regard. Bambi is no different and the crispness of the animation, changing with each season and helping to showcase little moments, is still a wonder even today.
There is also, of course, that moment. For many the scene where Bambi loses his Mother is a key one in people’s childhood and it isn’t difficult to see why. It demonstrates that Disney had the ability to produce good, tense and thrilling stories even back then, with the hunter’s rifle, the fleeing of the deer and a shot heard but the aftermath not properly seen. It is framed so well and the return to this for the movie’s finale works to better effect because of this.
Unfortunately, this movie focuses so much more the cute and cuddly than on the dramatic. This is a film which is aimed solely at kids and for their enjoyment, with scenes about ice-skating deer or playing in the flowers, taking far too much of the run-time. For anyone who enjoys watching Toy Story, Wreck-It Ralph or Minions with your little-ones, and mining a fair bit of entertainment yourself, you may find yourself bored.
Overall, Bambi is an effective showcase for Disney animation but does very little story-wise. The most iconic scene is one that shocks and shows that the studio had some story-telling ability in them but chose to make a cute movie about furry animals instead.
Rating – 2
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