When You Wish Upon a Star: Bambi

While being self-quarantined, we are all looking for different ways to occupy ourselves. I have decided to watch all the theatrically released Disney animated films offered to me on Disney+, in order. Of course I can’t just let that be it, so I will be writing a little something about each of them

Bambi is an interesting movie in that nothing really happens. It’s almost like the Seinfeld of Disney movies. It’s three forest animals, Bambi, Thumper, and Flower, learning about the world and their lives. It’s basically like watching a scripted nature documentary.

The movie starts with the birth of the new prince, Bambi. Meaning a deer is the king of the forest. At first I thought this was kind of odd. I expected the king of the forest to be some predatory animal, but if you think about forest predators, cougars, pumas, mountain lions (those are all the same animal) or even wolves they don’t quite seem so kingly. The big cats are more solitary creatures and wolves, although in packs, seem to only care about said pack. Deer do have a majestic quality, but so do elk. Moose are also very similar but they also have a doofy quality. I am spending a good portion of my life trying to figure out the monarch hierarchy of the forest. I’ve definitely made all the right choices to bring me to this point.

So this prince is born and the whole forest comes out to greet him. Pushing his way to the front and deciding he’s going to be Bambi’s best friend is a rabbit named Thumper. He’s gonna show Bambi the ropes and teach him the ways of forest creatures. What’s neat about Thumper is we all know someone like him. That one overly cocky friend that seems to always have a scheme or bad idea and will end up getting everyone hurt or in trouble. All while riding the coattails of his famous friend. He’s like Styles from Teen Wolf or the entourage from Entourage.

Bambi and Thumper take off to learn the world and in a field of flowers, a word Thumper just taught to Bambi, they meet a skunk that Bambi calls Flower. The skunk is the sensitive type but also seems to lack confidence so just allows these creatures to call him Flower. Now our merry band is formed and they go about learning how to play on ice and then some time passes and they age and learn about lady forest animals. They meet said lady animals and become what the film calls twitterpaited. Which is just a branding way of saying love.

In the meantime Bambi is also taught about the biggest threat of all time, man. Which eventually leads to his mom being killed by a hunter. Which just made me think about Chandler not crying when they stopped drawing the deer. Then there’s a huge forest fire and Bambi has to step up as the king and ensure all the animals are safe. Proving he is worthy of the throne and everyone loves him. Yada yada yada.

In making a movie with an entirely animated animal cast Disney had to ensure two things. First, they had to make the animals fairly realistic. Which they did pretty well of. The movements seem accurate. When Bambi is born he tries to stand and walk and there is some awkwardness to him which looks a lot like it does when real animals are born. Second, they had to blend that realness with the cartoony aspects to allow the animals to show a wider range of emotions so the audience can relate. So instead of the dark beady eyes of deer, which mostly serve to help them not get eaten by pumas or wolves, we are shown bigger eyes that move in ways most of us recognize as emotions. This is the reason people, other than Chandler Bing, cry when Bambi loses his mother.

There is a scene in the movie when it starts to rain. Bambi and his mom are snuggled up and the drops just start coming down. It is a piece of gorgeous animation but it is also paired with music really well. This was a big theme of these early cartoons. We have become so accustomed to cartoons and they are such a mainstream part of our media experience that this technique is hardly used any more, at least to the degree it’s done here. Despite the several movies now under Disney’s belt, this was still a relatively new thing and synching it with music in such a way was still very cool. I would say it’s still pretty sweet even 70 odd years later. It just engages two senses at the same time to really create a more complete experience.

Other Thoughts:

  • Bambi is a dude yet that is a name we often give to lady strippers.
  • The voice change as they got older was a nice touch.
  • Even when I was a kid I thought that other buck Bambi fought was a dick.
  • This movie doesn’t have an iconic song.
  • I had more thoughts but I spilled beer on my notes and can’t read them now.

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