“Bambi” (1942) Film Review
Written by Jambareeqi
Posted on 6th June 2017
WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Disney’s “Bambi” follows the life of a deer called Bambi, and his adventures in the Forrest. Now, I’ve not watched this film in donkey’s years; the last time I saw it was on VHS. When revisiting Bambi, I went in with a sense of Nostalgic familiarity, but also a newfound awareness of it’s critical praise and common appearances in hall of fame countdown lists.
However, I do feel as if that this film has been overrated and it gets more praise than it rightfully deserves. Sure, it’s a technical marvel in terms of animation! The way that the animators capture the organic quirks of animals is astoundingly impressive, showcasing how talented Disney’s crew could be back then. You can tell that the animators truly studied the wildlife references, because you can see the authenticity in every frame.
You can also feel a potent atmosphere throughout the movie; no matter what the season changes to, the film is brilliant at illustrating the warmth or chill of the weather on screen. There’s something very tangible about every raindrop, snowflake, and shroud of fog that draws us into Bambi’s world.
The problem is that the film’s intentions seem to be centered more on experimental filmmaking, and less on remarkable storytelling. It’s one thing to have pretty visuals, but such beauty can lack impact if there isn’t much contextual substance. Bambi himself isn’t exactly an exceptional character, he’s just this average kind of guy; Yes, this normality can be relatable, but it does beg the question “What’s so special about Bambi and why does he deserve a film?”.
Most of the movie is also dominated with what can only be described as “Cutesy Scenes”, with Bambi and his friends doing an assortment of adorable things, and tension is kept to an extreme minimum. I love cute things and the film does have it’s charming moments; but I have a line, and this movie can get a bit too sickly sweet at times. Don’t get me wrong, slice of life is one of my favourite genres; but there’s only so many scenes of cute animals doing nothing I can take, before I start wondering what the point is.
The movie isn’t completely devoid of tension though, it’s just that any attempts at dramatic conflict didn’t tap into my emotions much. For example, the famous scene involving Bambi’s mother being shot by a hunter, left me feeling much emptier than when I saw it as a child. This time I felt no tears, no broken heart, and no disappointment.
You can call me heartless, but Bambi’s mother wasn’t very interesting to begin with, and the mother-son bond the two share isn’t anything special; simply because Bambi’s mother spends most of the movie watching Bambi being cute, and dishing exposition on the Forrest. Sure, she’s a decent mother and she teaches Bambi important things; but her relationship with Bambi wasn’t moving enough to make me upset over her death.
The fact that Bambi’s mother becomes completely irrelevant after her death, also adds to the lack of sentiment I feel regarding her demise. You’d think such a traumatic experience would shape Bambi as a character; but he moves on quite easily, and never brings her up in conversation as an adult. If the movie finds her passing worth brushing over, then why should I care about her being gone?.
After Bambi’s mum’s passing, the film does try to throw in a few conflicts for the deer, but these scenes fly by and feel very last minute. Bambi also develops a romance with his childhood sweetheart, but it’s nothing unique, and they bond a tad too fast for a pair of deers who haven’t seen eachother since fawns.
Maybe I’m missing something that other people are seeing, but I just didn’t feel like “Bambi” was that great. Like I said, it’s excellent as a demonstration for Disney’s artistic talent at the time, but it’s over-simplistic characters and understated story left me feeling a little hollow. Call me crazy, but I kind of enjoyed the straight to video sequel “Bambi II” a little more; Yes, it’s just as uneventful and over-cutesy, but at least the bond between Bambi and his dad is developed enough to be engaging.