Monday, December 21, 2009

Walt Disney Animation Studios Part 5: Bambi

Series Intro:
Here's Part 5 of this multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors. They'll mostly be in release date order, save for those that aren't available on DVD at Netflix. (Numbers will be skipped to note missing movies)

Some background info (compiled from Wikipedia and imdb and my own knowledge of the movie).

Official Title: Bambi
Release: August 13, 1942
Running Time: 69 minutes (that's crazy short!)
Estimated Cost: I can't find exact figures, but most places say "Over $2,000,000" (1942) (Over $26,543,558.28 adjusted for inflation 2009)
Estimated Revenue: First Theatrical Release $300,000 (1942)(pitiful, I know)($3,921,356.80 adjusted for inflation 2008)
Overall Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:
The story opens in an unnamed American Woodland, with the birth of a deer (the young Prince of the Forest to be precise). Bambi goes on several adventures with his new found friends Thumper (the rabbit) and Flower (the skunk). They spend all of spring and summer playing. As winter comes, times get hard for the animals in the forest, but Bambi and his mother survive. Then, in a moment that changed American cartooning, Bambi's mother was shot and killed. Bambi's father, the Great Prince of the Forest, ushers Bambi into adulthood, with a few words of wisdom (more than a few words if we take into account the Direct-to-Video mid-quel Bambi II "Bambi and the Great Prince of the Forest). As Bambi and his friends reunite after the winter hibernation, they swear they won't be "twitterpated" (mate). But they do. Again though, things don't go as planned, for as Bambi and his newly won doe, Faline, are resting, the forest is once again invaded by man. This time, to more devistating effects - they let their fire rage on and soon a forest fire begins. Bambi meets back up with his father in the final reel as the two struggle to leave the forest. Many animals meet up at an isolated island, that is safe from the forests' flames. The final scene, an homage to the first, again brings new life to the forest, this time it's Bambi's fawns. The Great Prince of the Forest seems to retire and leaves the forest to Bambi.

 There is Life, First Sign of Spring, Through Your Eyes, Healing of the Heart, Bambi, Let's Sing A Gay Little Spring Song, Little April Shower, and Love Is A Song

All of these songs are beutifully scored, but are unmemorable. I might be able to sing a ditty from "April Shower" but nothing much. None of these songs moved on to become Disney classic songs.

Plot Rating: 1 stars out of 5

I've to say, "What plot?"  This movie was more like a nature expose than a feature animated movie (in fact it's too short to be feature length! - more on the length below in "Animation") In isolation, the adventures of young Bambi and his friends would have made excellent shorts (in the Loony Tune length), but there honestly wasn't enough plot to hold the movie together.

Animation Rating: 4 out of 5

Wow! Those animators at WDAS really brought their A game to this. They spend years studying real animals to make the movie as grand as it could be. Although they were fine drawing cartoon animals (such as all of the animals in Snow White), but Walt really wanted a sense of realism in this film. The same can be said of the art work in the backgrounds! WDAS animators really have a handle on the multi-plane camera, but that didn't make the drawing process go any faster. In fact, the drawing was so detailed and so exquisite, that the artists were only completing a half a foot a film a day! (or one second of film. (Previous releases were drawn at a rate of about 10 feet a day.) Because of the slow process and the grossly growing budget, Walt had 12 minutes cut from the movie!

The Test of Time:

Just like Snow, this had MANY theatrical releases; each one ranking in a lot more money for Disney. These re-releases in the theatre would actually allow Disney to recoup it's losses.

Bambi's test of time has to be started at it's release, during WWII in Europe! With basically the European market out, the release did pitiful. Domestically, it had a hard time too. Why would people want to see a movie in which PEOPLE were the villains! 

As time went on, more people accepted this movie and it's been highly rated on AMC's 10 best animated movies.

Personally, I never liked it as a child (I still don't like it now). Very little happens, and the few that do, I always felt personally responsible for, even though I've never hunted or even camped! This movie is a bit preachy, and there was never anything I could do to stop what it was preaching about.

Next Up:
Saludos Amigos

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