Bambi Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review

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Bambi 2017 Anniversary Edition

I can't imagine there are many readers that aren’t familiar with BAMBI and its tragic elements. I have only seen it a couple of times since I was child. Sure, I remembered most of the story beats, if you will, yet the stunning animation surprised me.  This is a film released 75 years ago. We are the talking the dawn of color movies, yet the images are better realized than many modern  animated features. Modern films created by computers look gorgeous and may seem more realistic, but there is an ethereal beauty to BAMBI no computer can match.

Walt Disney created countless animated classics but BAMBI is one of his finest. The stunning animation is accentuated by the beautiful integration of moments of horrifying darkness and brilliant light. The tragic murder of Bambi's mother makes the coming of age moments more sweet. (Bambi’s mother dying isn’t considered a spoiler is it?) It's even more masterful that we never actually see the hunter who commits the dreadful act. Can you imagine such a formidable villain having no screen time in a modern film? That's a monumental risk to take in a script.

Speaking of the screenplay, a key success is the lean running time. Today's films, even animated features, are often too long for the story they are trying to tell. A famous quote credited to Samuel Johnson, Mark Twain, or Blaise Pascal (depending on the source) states, I did not have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one instead.” I believe shorter films, in most instances, lead to stronger finished products. At just 70 minutes, this is a well executed screenplay without any wasteful moments.

Brilliant Special Features

As wonderful as the film is contained in this Anniversary Edition, the special features make this a fabulous addition to my collection. If you have children, by all means purchase the film for them, they'll love it too, but I think the special features will be a selling point to the adults whether you have children or not. If only other studios dedicated such time and resources to showcase their classics. Much of the bonus content is a carryover from the original DVD and Blu-ray releases. Thankfully there are new pieces and a phenomenal transfer to entice a double or even triple dip. If you don't already own Bambi, you should seriously prepare to immerse yourself in some deep extras.

Exclusive to this Edition

There aren’t a lot of new extras for this release, but they are entertaining. Probably the best is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in Africa Before Dark. This is a short featuring Mickey’s predecessor that was thought to be lost. Thankfully, here it is for you to enjoy. It’s a cute little curiosity. It’s filled with sight gags and a perpetual failed chase as Oswald hunts. All the guns will put off a segment of the viewing public, but it’s still a fun way to spend five minutes.

You also get two deleted scenes Bambi’s Ice and Snow & The Grasshopper. They’re very early in the creative process, so they’re nothing more than animated storyboards. Still, it’s pretty special to get a look a parts of Bambi that you’ve never seen before.

The other new bits are a trio of behind the scenes pieces. The first, Studio Stories, is a collection of audio interviews from 1957, while The Bambi Effect and Bambi Fawn Facts are short but entertaining. In the end, there’s not a lot of brand new content.

If you already own the Diamond Edition Blu-ray from earlier this decade you’ll have to decide if this content is worth the upgrade.

For those of you that don’t own earlier editions, here’s what carries over.

Previous Blu-ray Features

Inside Walt's Story Meetings is one of the most impressive pieces offered on the disc. Technically considered an Enhanced Edition, it is more of a documentary running concurrently with the film. The storytelling aspects of the doc are told through voice over reenactments of numerous meetings between Walt Disney and some of the other creative minds behind Bambi. There is a constant flow of still imagery, branching opportunities to other features, all while the film plays in one form or another in the background. It's a completely original look at the journey behind a classic.

Two deleted sequences (told with rough animation and storyboards) and an unheard song serve as might-have-beens. The deleted song entitled, “Twitterpated” was to be sung by the owl. My wife and I think the term should have new meaning today.

Twitterpated: (adjective) the sinking feeling you get when you have nothing original to post on your Twitter account. Jim was Twitterpated for the past week.

Amazing! Walt Disney is still influencing society with “new” ideas decades after his death.

Also included, as is only fair, are many original materials from the DVD. The Making of Bambi documentary is exhaustive and almost worthy of purchase in its own right. There's nothing more astounding than to watch the people involved in a film's creation talk about the painstaking process. Although, it was a bit annoying when today's craftsmen chimed in about the film relaying how amazing the animators were back-in-the-day. Obviously, they were wonderful, but we would rather hear it from them. Still, that's a rather small gripe to offer about an engrossing documentary.

A short about Disney's archives, is more fluff, but these types of pieces are commonplace. An absolute highlight, though, is a look at the multiplane camera employed to lend the visuals a gorgeous depth of field. The feature is an excerpt from a 1957 television broadcast where Walt himself talks about this stunning creation. This usage of multiple panes of glass was a masterful process that allows Bambi to stand the test of time.

Also on the disc is the Academy Award winning short “The Old Mill,” which employed the multiplane camera and some of the forest animal animation techniques before being used in Bambi.

All totaled, the features alone should bring you hours of enjoyment. This is a case where the features and film are altogether unforgettable experiences. If you don’t have Bambi in your home video library, what’re you waiting for. It’s a classic all around!

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0