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Bambi – Signature Collection Edition (Blu-ray Review)

As I just finished a review of Beauty and the Beast’s jump from Disney animated classic to live action blockbuster, I turn back to the past of the Mouse House’s animated legends. Bambi! One wonders if they’d ever tackle this tale with the gusto and fully lifelike CG animation of The Jungle Book and (One assumes) the upcoming The Lion King. A deer is not as exciting as a Lion or other exotic jungle animals, but…well…it could work. Make people fall in love with Thumper all over again and shed that tear and explain to the young one what happened when Bambi hears that loud blast of a rifle in the distance while escaping in the woods. Or, you can just go back and check out the original classic in this new Disney Signature Edition Blu-ray. It features some new stuff and will be available to own (again) on Blu-ray June 6th!

Film 

A fawn named Bambi joins his new friends, a young rabbit named Thumper and a skunk kit named Flower in happily exploring the woods. Bambi is captivated with a young doe named Faline, and he learns from his doting mother and his father — the Great Prince of the Forest — that besides the delights of the forest, there is danger in open meadows where hunters can see them. Though fear and tragedy touch Bambi’s life, another spring brings renewal.

Ah, yea…Bambi. A movie no child will ever forget. Is this the first animated Disney film where a kid turns to a parent and asks about a death that happens in the film?  Something Disney still pulls off to this day (I remember opening weekend for Up when kids were turning to their parents and quizzing them at the beginning). Its a strong message and effective storytelling. Maybe this is one of those movies that can successfully and not bluntly ease a child into learning about death. Or scare, haunt and upset them. Yeah, that could happen as well.

Bambi is a revolutionary film for Disney. One where they started adding more realism to their individually drawn characters. They studied real animals and reflected that as such in the animation. Later on, human characters would start breathing in their animated movies. Also, this is a kind of story Disney would revisit time and time again. Put quickly and more to the point;  Bambi feels like the beta version or prototype for The Lion King. Both have similar journeys revolving around losing a parent early on and having to come around and reclaim their place as the head of the kingdom.

In terms of technical observations with the film, a fun one I noticed was the sound design (Nominated for an Academy Award). This is very light on the foley effects. Characters essentially movie around in silence. Some effects are captured and played, but a lot of them are cleverly done by using the score. The silent film era’s filmmaking ways were still very present over a decade after the introduction of sound to the movies. Its funny to see considering Disney has always been on of the most lavish and meticulous animation houses. This is just a step before they had innovated that kind of thing.

Bambi is just a solid story and its really short too. Its a piece of history, being entered in the National Film Registry a few years ago even. For those young ones going back to Bambi, its hard to emphasize that no one had ever seen anything like this when it came out, but its true. But, hopefully the story is enough to captivate them, and maybe get them to study up on why something like Bambi is important. Also, will we ever see a “live action” (I quote because it’d be all CG) Bambie remake from Disney in the near future? Time will tell.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: This is the same transfer as the original release, the Bambi: Diamond Edition Blu-ray from 2011.  And, why not? Its a terrific transfer that I can’t imagine being much better. Its sharp, featuring detailed textures in the animation like some brush strokes and little things to show the art and design of an old hand drawn animated cartoon.

Depth:  Its pretty flat due to its 2D nature, but there are some impressive three dimensional-esque moments that pepper in throughout.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and dark. Outlining is strong and sharp. No crushing witnessed in this viewing of the film for review.

Color Reproduction: Colors are strong, with greens and browns coming in good bold strokes and different shades. Oranges are strong too, you know, fires and such. Every color her lifts off and is very strong with this image making the movie look fresher than ever.

Flesh Tones: N/A

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 7.1 DTS-HD HR, Restored Original Soundtrack, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: Bambi features the same 7.1 track as on the Diamond Edition release from 2011. It also features the restored mono track. The 7.1 does seem excessive for a movie of this age and the nature of the beast. What is fun though is that the score and dialogue here sound so strong and separate. Effects sound good, but its funny as a lot of them are done by way of the film’s score. There is a hair of analog hissing evident in moments, but its very light and a novice wouldn’t probably even notice let alone care.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer is light on the usage and much of its bumps comes from deeper, more striking moments in the score.

Surround Sound Presentation: Its very front heavy, as they make the correct decision not to overdo this movie. The rear and side speakers primarily enhance the score and provide ambiance. Movements and volume placement on distance are accurately directed and placed.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is impressively clear and for the most part with good clarity with just a really really really minimal amount of analog hiss still present in the mix.

Extras 

Bambi – Signature Collection Edition comes with the DVD edition, an UltraViolet digital copy and a collectible lithograph (Dedicated to Tyrus Wong).

DisneyView – Plays the film with the side matting filled with artwork.

Studio Stories: Bambi (HD, 4:56) – Archival interviews from Walt Disney about Bambi, circa 1956 (laid over scenes and early sketches for the film as well as stock shots  and photos of the studio during that era and the production).

Deleted Scenes With Introductions By Animator Floyd Norman (HD, 7:25) – An animator on the original Jungle Book and still with Disney, Norman introduces scenes that have storyboards and voice narration based off of Walt Disney’s notes and pitches.

Oswald The Lucky Rabbit: “Africa Before Dark” (HD, 5:50) – An old cartoon short from around the era Bambi was released.

The Bambi Effect (HD, 3:00) – Quickly goes over the influence and groundbreaking decision to draw animals true to life as well as the “dreamy” looking backgrounds. It also drops Retta Scott as the first credited female Disney animator.

Bambi Fawn Facts (HD, 3:34) – This is one of those Disney Channel kinda things where they hip it up and then give facts on the animals portrayed in the film.

Classic Bonus

  • Inside Walt’s Story Meetings: Extended Edition (HD, 1:35:55)
  • Classic Deleted Scenes (HD, 5:39)
  • Deleted Song: “Twitterpated” (HD, 1:52)
  • The Making Of Bambi: A Prince Is Born (HD, 53:15)
  • Tricks Of Our Trade-Excerpt (HD, 7:18) 
  • Inside The Disney Archives (HD, 8:39) 
  • The Old Mill: Animated Short (HD, 8:58)
  • The Golden Age (HD, 6:24) 
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:12)

Summary 

Bambi may seem just solid now, but this was a groundbreaking film in terms of animals being animated and much much more. This Blu-ray features the same terrific transfer and great audio the film had before on the Diamond Edition. It appears to have ported over most (If not all) the extras from the Diamond Edition (Including and extended version of the Walt’s Story Meetings documentary). There are some nice new additions to the extras on this as well. If you already own Bambi, unless its your favorite film or you pick up everything Disney, you don’t need to rush and upgrade. But, if you have never owned Bambi on Blu-ray before, this is the one to own!

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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