Bambi 75th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD) Review- Lots of Fawn Features!

Author Thumbnail BY Caitlin Donovan - - June 07, 2017
10/10

When most people think of Bambi what comes to mind is one scene: a gunshot in the forest and a little fawn losing his mother. It’s a moment that broke the hearts of many children and left a deep impression on them. For many, it might be the first time they really thought about death. In addition to being a milestone in many lives, Bambi is also a milestone in animation. It’s a classic for many reasons and this special anniversary edition examines those reasons in full detail.

As with all of Disney’s anniversary editions, the Bambi 75th Anniversary Edition (Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital HD) makes sure fans get their money’s worth when it comes to special features. But it’s also slightly different than usual since this DVD simultaneously celebrates an anniversary and pays tribute to an important artist who is recently departed. The DVD comes with a collectible lithograph featuring art for the movie by Tyrus Wong (1910-2016) , the animator whose impressionistic background art defined the look of Bambi. It’s a really nice little bonus.

Concept art for Bambi by Tyrus Wong

There’s also a featurette on Wong titled “Celebrating Tyrus Wong”. It’s a solid overview of the life and work of an influential but rarely explored artist and even talks about the beautiful kites he made and flew post-retirement. The short is informative, but also conspicuously glosses over any truths about the animators life that might make Disney look bad. For instance, it briefly mentions that Wong “went over to Warner Brothers” after Disney, but fails to note that this was because he was a part of an animators strike protesting Disney’s working conditions and that Warner Brothers offered him four times the salary he got at Disney. But hey, at least they’re honoring him now.

Other notable extras on this DVD include a series of featurettes titled “The Making of Bambi: A Prince is Born." Taken altogether, they’re a feature-length documentary on the process of creating the movie.  The first feature “Back to the Beginning” talks about how Bambi was adapted from six books by Felix Salten and how, like many of Disney’s classics, it actually didn’t do too well when it was first released. The featurettes following this one each focus on different elements of the movie like voice acting, the drawings of animals, the music, the story and dialogue and the background drawings of the forest. There are six featurettes in all and they all range from about 5-10 minutes long.

Concept art for Bambi by Tyrus Wong

Another major feature is “Inside Walt’s Story” which is essentially a dramatic retelling of transcripts of story meetings and sweatbox sessions for Bambi held by Walt Disney and other artists from 1937-1940. The narration is accompanied by photos of the staff in meetins  and drawings, sketches,and storyboards for the movie. There are also interviews with Disney historians who explain some of the things that went on with making the movie. The whole thing is actually longer than the movie itself, clocking at an hour and 35 minutes. Though lengthy, it’s an interesting look at the process behind the movie. It’s amusing to hear Walt describing the rabbit who would become Thumper as “cute business” and it's inspiring to hear the artists talk excitedly about “capturing reality interpreted through fantasy”.

There are several deleted scenes as well, though it should be noted they’re all in story-board form. The scenes include : “Bambi’s Ice and Snow”, “Winter Grass”, “The Grasshopper” and “Bambi Stuck on a Reed” which are all pretty much exactly what they sound like. The most interesting deleted scene was “Two Leaves”. It was inspired by a scene in the original books and is essentially two dried up leaves hanging off a tree acting like a married couple about to die. “Which one of us will go first?” the "lady" leaf wonders, as the "male" leaf assures her she looks just as lovely as she always did, if not lovelier. It’s as bizarre as it sounds, but also a little moving.

From Bambi

There’s also a deleted song called “Twitterpated”, which is coupled with clips from the movie rather than new animation.

The “Studio Stories: Bambi” is a series of interview conducted in 1956 at Disney while “The Golden Age” focuses on how the films that preceded Bambi (like Snow White) influenced it. “Tricks of Our Trade” is an excerpt from a 1957 episode of the Disneyland program, in which Walt Disney discussed the multiplane animation process.

There are also a couple old animated shorts, including a newly cleaned-up version of “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: Africa Before Dark” (Oswald was the predecessor to Mickey Mouse) and the mostly silent short “Into the Mill”. Both features are nature focused, so they pair well with Bambi thematically.

Concept art for Bambi by Tyrus Wong

As usual with Disney DVD releases, the weakest features are the bubbly “trivia” shorts clearly made for the Disney Channel- “The Bambi Effect” and “Fawn Facts”-. These shorts don’t have much substance and are essentially a narrator perkily reciting IMDB trivia and facts covered in other, more detailed features.

Another weak feature was “Inside the Disney Archives” which was essentially animator Andreas Deja digging through the Disney archives and finding the deleted scenes that were already included with the DVD. It seemed incredibly redundant, considering the viewer could just go and watch the scenes themselves.

All in all, this is another great offering for Disney enthusiasts. It contains a beautiful, classic movie alongside a diverse array of features that offer a lot of historical information as well as information on the artistic process of the movie. It gives not only insight into the movie itself, but about the movie’s place in history and the state of Disney animation studios when it was made. Any fan of Bambi or animation in general will find a lot to sing their teeth into and can enjoy hours and hours of content. So if it’s your thing, buy this movie and frolic with all your forest friends!

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Author Name
Caitlin Donovan is a long-time nerd with a passion for superheroes and epic fantasy. She lives in North Carolina with her cat and wrestles with writing novels and doing editorial work when she's not ranting about pop culture online. She runs a blog at ladyloveandjustice.tumblr.com
@Caitlin Donovan | caitlin@epicstream.com