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In the cannon of Walt Disney classic animated films, BAMBI ($40) is indeed one of the most unique motion pictures to bare the Disney trademark. BAMBI is simplistic, almost a minimalist motion picture that is the most naturalistic in its depiction of characters and settings. Unlike other Disney offerings, BAMBI places far less emphasis on the anthropomorphizing of its animal characters, but instead revels in the beauty of animals themselves and in nature. Much of BAMBI bears more resemblance nature paintings of the forest setting, than a tradition animated short or feature film. BAMBI is best described as a coming of age film; one the slowly unfolds, with a sense of subtlety, instead of with a sense of urgency. Thanks to its simplicity and subtlety, BAMBI also proves itself to be one of the most emotionally stirring of all the Walt Disney animated classics.

Based on the book Bambi, A Life In The Woods by Felix Salten, BAMBI is the story of the title character, a newly born fawn, who is also referred to as the Young Prince. Through a series of vignettes, the first two years in Bambi’s come to life. We witness Bambi take his first step, speak his first words and make his first friends. Bambi learns from his mother of the dangers of the meadow, where deer are most exposed to hunters; he also experiences the joys and harshness of winter. Our Young Prince is reunited with his father, the Great Prince of the Forest, but only after discovering life’s harshest truth. Eventually, Bambi reaches maturity, with he and his friends becoming "twitterpated" as part of the annual rite of spring. BAMBI features the vocal talents of Bobby Stewart, Donnie Dunagan, Hardie Albright, John Sutherland, Paula Winslowe, Peter Behn, Tim Davis, Sam Edwards, Stan Alexander, Sterling Holloway, Will Wright, Cammie King, Ann Gillis, Fred Shields, Margaret Lee and Mary Lansing.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has made BAMBI available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.37:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation for BAMBI is another stunning revelation that highlights all the visual beauty of this animated masterpiece, which it presents with startling clarity. Every frame is a near perfect representation of the Disney artistry, with sharpness and detail limited only by the brush strokes of the original cel animation. Colors are beautifully rendered, maintaining the naturalistic qualities of its largely pastel palette, while stronger primary colors that that appear in key sequences also remain flawless. Blacks are deep and the whites appear crisp and clean. Contrast is very smooth. The film elements from which BAMBI has been mastered have been digitally rejuvenated to virtual perfection, with nary a blemish to be seen. A very minute amount of grain remains in the image, but the animation doesn’t appear diminished in any way.

BAMBI is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 7.1 channel DTS-HD High Resolution soundtrack. Considering that the soundtrack is almost seventy years old, the modern re-mix does an admirable job with the vintage sound materials, even in this modestly lossy format. As expected, BAMBI doesn’t sound like a modern film, even though it has been given a multi-channel mix. Still, BAMBI has been opened up sonically, thanks to the wider soundstage created by multi-channel repurposings of the music and other sonic elements. Fidelity has the kind of limitations one natural associates with seven-decade-old recording technology. The musical component is on the thin side, but it isn’t brittle sounding. Dialogue is crisply rendered and easy to understand. Most of the age related background hiss and other audible anomalies have been cleaned up in the mastering process, leaving the track with a reasonably smooth sonic quality. A cleaned up version of the film’s original theatrical soundtrack is also present on this release. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials. Starting things off is Bambi: Inside Walt's Story Meetings; this Picture-in-Picture track offers a real nuts and bolts look at the development and creation of this animated classic, which also offers viewer access to additional materials, via onscreen prompts (requires a Profile 1.1 player). A Disney View mode is also included, which replaces the black bars on the sides of the image with related artwork. Diane Disney Miller also offers up an Introduction to the film. Next up is The Making Of Bambi: A Prince Is Born; this six-part program looks at various ingredients that went into the creation of this animated classic, and runs fifty-two minutes in total. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Inside The Disney Archives (nine minutes) and Tricks Of The Trade (seven minutes). Eight minutes of Deleted Scenes and a Deleted Song are also provided. The 1937 Academy Award-winning animated short, The Old Mill, is also included. Disney Second Screen is a new feature that integrates laptops or iPads for additional supplemental content. Disney's Big Book Of Knowledge is an interactive feature for the kids. A Theatrical Trailer and Bonus Trailers close out the standard supplements. Disc two offers a DVD copy of the movie for those who are on the fence about making the upgrade to Blu-ray.

BAMBI is one of the most beautiful and emotionally stirring of all the great Walt Disney animated masterpieces. The Blu-ray presentation is stunning. Absolutely recommended.


Bambi (Two-Disc Diamond Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging) (1942)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2011 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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