|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Tuesday, 01 March 2011|
“Bambi” is Disney’s fifth, or fourth if you don’t count “The Reluctant Dragon” cinematic feature, debuting in 1942. Much like “Fantasia,” “Bambi” finds powerful moments in score-driven sequences as well as silence.
Hand-drawn animation is at its best in this feature. New animation camera work also adds to the powerful images of this release. The story, which is based on an Austrian author’s work, is simple, but powerful. Bambi is the prince of the forest, having been birthed by the wisest deer in all the forest.
In the spring we watch as Bambi finds his legs and makes new friends, including the infamous Thumper and Flowers. Bambi learns of the dangers of the forest, particularly man in the hunting season. We watch as Bambi learns what winter is and how to skate. Few can ever forget the moment we hear the gunshot that takes Bambi’s mother. Out of sight and yet still memorable.
Taken in by his father at this point, we fast-forward to several spring seasons later in which Thumper, Flowers and Bambi have all grown into young adults. They are introduced to the “twitterpatted” romance of the forest. One by one the friends fall to the influence of the opposite species. However, just when all seems delightful man interrupts the peacefulness. Hunting season begins and the creatures must run for their lives. The negligence of man releases a furious flame upon the forest, engulfing it in its entirety.
The progression of the story is smooth and accomplishes much in a mere 70 minutes. The film is the first to introduce forest creature characterizations by Disney, only to be bested 60 years later by the richness of “The Lion King.”
At this point I think we all know how powerful the story, imaging and nature of “Bambi” really is. It is indeed a perennial classic that ranks as one of Disney’s all-time best features.
The Diamond Edition Blu-ray arrives with a stunning remastered and pristine video image. Preservationists have worked their magic to bring “Bambi” to the glory that it deserves. The hand drawn animation is line by line perfect. Whatever slips or softness that appears on less than a handful of occasions was present in the original and dutiful maintained instead of digitally tampered with. The color restoration is astounding. Previous releases of the film left the color dismal and primarily gray. On the Blu-ray, the grass has never looked greener, the flames and embers have never burned more orange and red. The snow and ice are a perfect combination of blue, white and gray. The flower patch is filled with the primaries and secondaries. As with all past Disney classics I highly recommend the Disney View feature, which adds sidebars to the 1.33:1 image and happen to blend seamlessly in this film. As a huge Disney fan and videophile I could not ask for more from this video releases. You will not be disappointed.
The audio is not quite as spectacular of the video, but it is exceptional for its age. First, for some reason, likely to keep all the bonus features and main feature on just one Blu-ray disc, the audio is presented here in DTS-HD 7.1 HR (High-Resolution) instead of MA (Master Audio). While Master Audio is bit for bit identical to the master, High Resolution falls a bit short of lossless, ranging from 2 to 6 Mbps. In the case of “Bambi” the 7.1 audio is locked in at 2.0 Mbps. After hearing lossless audio time and time again it is apparent that this is a lossy audio track. However, for those that are not constant movie watchers, the audio will probably not sound terribly different. There is no major annoying spectral splitting or soundfield disruptions with this HR track thankfully. The timbre of the sound and the voices remains consistent with the original production. The original mono mix has been remixed for 7.1 and very nicely I might add. The surround channels are enveloping throughout, except for the moments of per silence. The score has been spaced to fill the surround channels. The dialogue remains centered and can be a bit muffled at times but again, it is preferably than digital tampering. Noise levels are consistent unlike “Fantasia.” The bass results mainly from bass management. The LFE channel is minimal. Dynamics are better than I expected. This would normally be a 4.5/5 star audio mix. However, it has to lose a half of one star for the lack of a lossless audio mix.
The Blu-ray edition comes with not an overwhelming amount of special features, but certainly a hearty portion. The primary feature here is “Bambi: Inside Walt’s Story Meetings.” This is a picture-in-picture commentary of sorts. The feature consists of a recreation of the story meetings held by Disney and his production team. The PiP track also contains archived footage and photos. The user may also select at times to view animated shots and other classic footage.
There are four deleted scenes, which as usual are presented in sketch form. A deleted song also follows this section. “The Making Of ‘Bambi:’ A Prince Is Born” is a six-part documentary covering the concept and production of the film. “Inside The Disney Archives” gives us a glimpse at the original artwork. “Disney Second Screen” is a new feature that allows you to sync you iPad or laptop to the film and see original sketches and the like a long with the finished version. It is like a storyboard PiP track but requiring you to deal with a physical second screen. I can’t see this one catching on. “Tricks Of The Trade” gives us an introduction to the multi-plane camera used in animation. “Interactive Galleries” presents us with original artwork and sketches. “Disney’s Big Book Of Knowledge” is a child’s interactive feature, allowing them to explore the forest. “The Old Mill” is an animated short. Finally, there is a theatrical trailer and the Disney View. The Diamond Edition also comes with a DVD Copy of the film.
“Bambi” is simply a must own. The video quality is beautifully remastered. While the audio is not the best Disney has created, it is certainly still top-notch for a 1942 production. It goes without saying that you must add this title immediately.