Recently, on another Disney DVD, they had a documentary about the camera that Disney Studios created to achieve this shot. It contained different levels of glass on which the various parts of the forest were painted. The levels of glass could move up and down, side to side, giving the illusion of a camera panning through an actual forest, weaving between trees.
This shot is simply remarkable. On the DVD, it is also restored, giving the shot the illusion of a photograph.
As the camera moves into the thicket, all of the other forest creatures are excited. The new Prince has been born. Soon, we see Bambi, a new fawn, sleeping at his mother’s side. As the other animals approach, Bambi wakes up and tries to stand on his wobbly legs. As he grows, he meets Thumper, a rabbit, and Flower, a skunk and they have all manner of adventures together.
“Bambi”, originally released in 1942, is one of the Classics that Disney himself worked on. It is a beautiful film to watch. All of the backgrounds were rendered by hand and some appear to be so lifelike they can pass for photographs. Because the film was restored for this DVD, these pictures are bright and clear, and might have been animated yesterday.
Yes, animated films have a reputation of hordes of talking, fuzzy animals, and that certainly holds true in “Bambi”. What is refreshing here is that the characters aren’t annoyingly cute. Also, the film is balanced nicely with scenes of darkness and menace. For every cutesy scene, there is a scene of Bambi and his mother walking through the winter landscape looking for food. For every scene of twitterpation, there is a scene of Bambi and his mother running from hunters.
“Bambi” is not a perfect film, but it comes close. My one complaint is that the film appears more episodic than Disney’s other classics. This is partially mandates by the story. The film follows the course of Bambi’s life from one season to the next. But the film appears more episodic than necessary because each season is broken up by a short piece depicting leaves falling, snow melting, etc.
“Bambi: The Collector’s Edition” follows a long line of high quality, fun and informative Disney DVDs. The Disney DVDs of the classic films are truly encyclopedias on disc. They always contain the absolute best quality of sight and sound, using the best quality print they can find. Often, they have restored the print. They also contain tons of archival footage. Perhaps the stand out in the “Bambi” package is called “Inside Walt’s Story Meetings”, a new documentary hosted by Patrick Stewart (more on him later). While preparing this DVD, they found transcripts of the story meetings during the making of this film and have created a new documentary out of this material. Can any aspiring or working filmmaker not watch this? This is fascinating stuff that will surely educate anyone with an inkling to learn more about film. Disc Two contains a lot of other archival material and Making Of stuff.
Previous Disney DVDs have been organized in a way that seems to fit. The film and the ‘family friendly’ material were on Disc One. The more educational and archival material were on Disc Two. In “Bambi”, they have not used this formula. The film and “Inside Walt’s Story Meetings” are on Disc One. The other archival material and ‘family friendly’ games and material are on Disc Two. I am not sure why they changed this, but it seems odd.
Disney is a company that has a well-built marketing machine. Just about everything is made or released with some other promotion or goal in mind. “Bambi” is being released on DVD to generate revenue for the company, but also to promote the new Direct to DVD film “Bambi and The Prince of The Forest”. Of course, there is a preview for the new film on the disc. It appears that the story of the new film is an elaboration of a brief sequence in the original. The new film depicts the relationship of Bambi and his father (Patrick Stewart) after the tragic events in the original film, but before Bambi grows up. From the few scenes in the trailer, they have captured Bambi, Thumper and Flower well, but the backgrounds appear stale and two-dimensional.
“Bambi: The Collector’s Edition” is a definite must have. If you have kids, you need to expose them to what quality animation looks like. If you are an aspiring filmmaker, you need to have access to the encyclopedia of information contained on the two DVDs. If you are an adult, you will want to relive the moments that moved you when you were a child.