Ranking Disney: #15 – Bambi (1942)
This has to be the simplest of all Disney plots. Even more so than Dumbo. If you think about it — there’s really nothing here in terms of story you can point out except the one moment everybody remembers from this. Outside of that, it’s just — life in the forest.
It’s gorgeous, of course, and this is some of Disney’s best animation ever, but in terms of story, there’s really not anything here. But even so, it’s Bambi and you’d be an idiot if you didn’t consider this a top 15 of all time for them.
The film begins with Bambi being born. He is the son of the Great Prince of the Forest, a position he will one day take over.
He meets a bunch of forest animals, specifically Thumper.
We see him going around with his mother, who teaches him things.
He also meets Flower, a baby skunk (so named because that’s where he meets him).
And he meets Faline, who he’s clearly going to have sex with eventually.
Then winter comes. And it’s all snowy and stuff and everything is great. But — man is in the forest.
And we all know what happens to Bambi’s mother. That’s not the real sad part, though, is afterward, when Bambi is calling for her, not knowing what happened.
Then spring comes and Bambi is fully grown. And we see him ’bout to get wet with Faline and all, only there’s another stag, named Ronno, who also wants to get with Faline. And he and Bambi have a big fucking fight.
As you can see, it’s full of negative coloring. More shots of that later.
Bambi wins, and then he and Faline are all happy. But then — man is in the forest again.
Man accidentally sets fire to the forest. And shit burns.
Then Bambi searches through the forest for Faline, loses her, and finds her, and has to fend off some hunting dogs, and they make it to safety.
And then the next spring, Faline gives birth to twins and Bambi has become the new Great Prince of the Forest.
If there’s one thing that docks Bambi for me, in terms of my own personal rankings, it’s that there’s not much of a plot. I love it, but it’s not a film I’d but on as much. That’s just rationalization as to why it’s not in the top ten even though it’s clearly one of the most gorgeously animated Disney films of all time. (Seriously, it’s top ten, maybe even top five. It’s beautiful.) The film is gorgeously animated and is charming and engaging as all hell. I just can’t rewatch it as I would some of the other ones simply because not much actually happens in the film.
But this is some of the most beautiful animation that Disney’s ever done. So this definitely deserves a top 15 spot. I just can’t place it any higher because I just don’t enjoy watching it as much as everything that’s above it. But man — it’s so beautiful.
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Official Disney Number: #5
Run Time: 70 minutes
Release Date: August 13, 1942
Box Office: Apparently it made around $3 million in its initial run, and $102 million lifetime, through reissues and stuff, and then $267 million worldwide in its lifetime.
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- “Love is a Song,” performed by Chorus
- “Little April Shower,” performed by Chorus
- “Let’s Sing a Gay Little Spring Song,” performed by Chorus
- “Looking for Romance (I Bring You a Song),” performed by Chorus
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- This film was nominated for Best Original Song for “Love Is a Song,” as well as Best Scoring of a Dramatic Picture and Best Sound, Recording. It lost Best Original Song to “White Christmas” from Holiday Inn, Best Scoring to Now, Voyager and Best Sound, Recording to Yankee Doodle Dandy.
- Disney Franklin purchased the rights to the book on which this film was based (“Bambi, A Life in the Woods”) in 1933, but deemed it too difficult to adapt into a film. So he sold the rights to Disney in 1937. Walt intended on making it their second animated film. However, they felt the novel was too grim and somber for a Disney film, plus they realized they couldn’t successfully animate deer realistically. So they put the project on hold and focused on Fantasia. But in 1939, they started production again.
- This is the second Disney film to be set in the present day (after Dumbo).
- Walt demanded they use children’s voices for the young animals, to make them sound more realistic.
- This film pretty much kept Disney afloat. Since, after the huge success of Snow White, they had a string of failures with Pinocchio and Fantasia. So if this film didn’t succeed, it was quite possible that Disney wouldn’t have made it past the war as a company that made features. (The same pressure that was riding on Cinderella, post-war.) Though, the film did lose money during its initial run and didn’t become a big success until its 1947 re-release.
- There are only about 1,000 words of dialogue in the entire film.
- This is one of the only films where none of the songs are sung by the characters.
- Apparently “Man is in the forest” was a code phrase used by Disney animators when Walt was coming up the hallway.
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1. This opening shot reminds me of a lot of other Disney shots. I can’t point to a specific one, but, when you see it — it’s familiar, isn’t it? I know they’ve done a shot like this before. I just can’t tell you where at this exact moment.
2. This reminds me of Fox and the Hound and Jungle Book, among other things. Plus — object framed by foliage.
3. Character framed by foliage. Also, standing on the cliff. Pure Disney.
4. Character reflected in the water. Classic Disney shot.
5. “Nants ingonyama bagithi baba!!!!”
6. “Sithi uhhmm ingonyama!!!”
7. I like this shot because it’s a reverse of the “character framed by foliage” shot, and the shot up there, of the Prince of the Forest standing up on the rocks. You don’t really get a shot like this from behind a character in Disney, and it really stood out to me.
8. Interesting shot for few reasons, mostly because the eyes are clearly not attached to any body in this particular image. The eyes are just drawn over the flowers. Plus, they’ve referenced this kind of shot a few times over the years. (Also, it’s kind of creepy, isn’t it? They really do look like detached eyes.)
9. Negative coloring. Mostly during Bambi’s fight with Ronno and during the fire.
10. Two characters by a waterfall. What a beautiful image. Plus — classic Disney. They’re feeling that love tonight.
11. This reminds me of almost an exact same shot in Fantasia 2000 as the wood fairy or whatever she is overlooks the devastation of the firebird.
12. I just wanted to post a few beautiful images from the film. That is — these images have nothing to do with the plot or are motifs of any kind — they’re just beauty for beauty’s sake.
13. Look at this drunk fuck: