Saturday, February 05, 2011

Disn-A-Thon: Bambi (1942)

The animated story of Bambi, a young deer hailed as the 'Prince of the Forest' at his birth. As Bambi grows, he makes friends with the other animals of the forest, learns the skills needed to survive, and even finds love. One day, however, the hunters come, and Bambi must learn to be as brave as his father if he is to lead the other deer to safety. [imdb]

I have to review the Platinum Edition DVD unfortunately, as the Blu-Ray will be released in March. I plan to post some updates once I re-watch the Blu-Ray disc (ignoring duplicate features of course).

That said, on with the movie stuff.

Bambi is quite easily one of the best animated features of all time.  The realistic depiction of animals, the emotion, the background artwork, the music... It's entirely fantastic.

From the very moment the film begins, you know exactly what you're watching. The opening theme "Love Is A Song (That Never Ends)" lets you know from the start that this is a Disney movie.  It's almost a calming feeling for us fans.

And then comes the big pan... One of the finest uses of the famous multiplane camera [wikipedia] as the scene pans across the forest, past waterfalls and scores of trees.  I tend to rewind and watch this scene over and over again, just because it's so amazing.  Even when I can tell the art is obviously flat painted on glass, there's still far more depth in this one shot than there is in many live-action films and sometimes in real life.

One of the many special features points out that in earlier movies (the entire four before this one), such as Snow White, the animals (particularly the deer) were never based on as real models as in Bambi.  For this movie, the animators and character departments spent a lot of time studying real animals and their anatomy and build.  This helped them to find a very real look for their characters, starting with a realistic animal and then building on human characteristics.  That's one of the most unique qualities of Bambi, making it stand out far above any of the preceding and following films.

They had already made some of the most outstanding feats in cinematic history, and leave it to Disney to want to continue topping themselves.  It's what I love about them, and it shows more in Bambi than any other film.

On a quite personal note, I think I would classify this one as having my favourite score and soundtrack out of the entire Disney film catalogue.  That includes live action too.  The score is truly inspired and the vocal numbers are gorgeous.  I think I probably have a bit of a bias, as the movie also has one of my all-time favourite Disney songs as well.  "Little April Showers" is just such a lovely song and so relaxing as well.  (My other favourite, non-ironically, is "The Rain Rain Rain Came Down Down Down" from The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh)  I suggest everyone should someday watch this movie, paying strict attention to the music at least once.

So yeah, the games were kind of dumb... One was incredibly difficult just because they didn't bother explaining how it worked, so I kept angrily doing it wrong.  I don't even know why I bother with the games sometimes.  They are either too easy or too annoyingly difficult.

As for other features, there are tons of historical features, including a movie-length pseudo-commentary.  It's essentially an audio re-enactment of story meetings, played along with the film occasionally in split-screen or picture-in-picture with pencil tests, animatics, etc.

A complete entertainment and educational experience, and I really can't wait to find out what more they put on the Blu-Ray.