REVIEW: “Bambi” 75th Anniversary Blu-ray brings home Walt Disney’s fifth animated masterpiece

in Disney, Merchandise, Movies, Movies & TV, Reviews

“Bambi” was Walt Disney Animation Studios‘ fifth feature (after “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Pinocchio,” “Fantasia,” and “Dumbo”) and it still stands among those classics as a landmark in motion picture animation. Utilizing state-of-the-art filmmaking techniques and new methods of cel animation, Walt Disney and his top-notch team delivered an innovative tale focused solely on a group of animal friends living in a forest– and lacking the fantasy elements for which the company had become known.

Despite the freshness of the story and undeniable advancements in technology, “Bambi” received mixed reviews upon its release in August of 1942 and lost money at the box office during its original run. Today, however, it is of course viewed as a masterpiece. The film has been reissued plenty of times in various formats through the decades, and now it lands on Blu-ray (for the second time) with a definitive 75th Anniversary Edition.

Last month I had the opportunity to sit down with the voice actors who played young Bambi and Thumper, and this week I finally got the chance to spend some time with the Blu-ray release itself.

The movie itself looks just as good if not better than it ever has, presented in 1080p High Definition and retaining the film’s original “Academy” aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Audio is in full 7.1 DTS-HDH, with Spanish and French-language 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks. English, Spanish, and French subtitles are also available.

The bonus features included on the disc are plentiful, with over two hours of goodies to sift through, bringing the grand total of content on the Blu-ray to over three hours and fifteen minutes, including the feature. I’d say that’s definitely worth the price of admission (the set also includes a DVD and Digital HD copy, and can be found on Amazon.com for $19.99). Let’s take a look at what the “Bambi” 75th Anniversary Edition has to offer.

WATCH “BAMBI” VOICE ACTORS DISCUSS 75TH ANNIVERSARY:

NEW BONUS FEATURES

“Celebrating Tyrus Wong” (8:56) – (Digital Exclusive) A touching look at the Chinese-born Disney artist responsible for “Bambi’s” highly-influential impressionistic background paintings. Wong passed away last year at the age of 106, and this piece honors his memory with analysis of his contributions and follows his retirement from animation and fascination with the art of kite-making.

“Studio Stories: ‘Bambi'” (4:56) – Archival recordings of Walt Disney discussing the advancements made in animation technology for use in the making of “Bambi,” including new visual effects techniques and the innovative Multiplane Camera.

Deleted Scenes (7:25) – These two newly-revealed sequences are actually mostly just unused concept art / storyboards for two planned but discarded scenes: “Bambi’s Ice and Snow” and “The Grasshopper.”

“Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: Africa Before Dark” (5:50) – This 1928 Universal Pictures short by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks was thought lost until a full copy was discovered at the Austrian Film Museum IN 2009. It has now been thoroughly (perhaps a bit too thoroughly, as the lack of dirt and scratches almost makes it look inauthentic) restored and released on home video for the very first time.

“The Bambi Effect” (3:00) – Explore the reverberations and impact of “Bambi” throughout the past seventy-five years of Disney animations, and learn what makes the movie so special.

“Bambi Fawn Facts” (3:34) – A handy informational guide to the real-life animal versions of deer, skunks, and rabbits.

CLASSIC BONUS FEATURES

Deleted Scenes (5:37) – Three previously-released unused sequences: “Two Leaves,” “Bambi Stuck on a Reed,” and “Winter Grass.”

“Deleted Song – ‘Twitterpated'” (1:52) – Recently-recorded vocals illuminate an extended musical number that was not meant to be.

“The Making of ‘Bambi’: A Prince is Born” (53:15) – The longest bonus feature on the release is a 1990s-produced documentary containing interviews with Disney luminaries such as John Lasseter, Andreas Deja, and other animators. Divided into six chapters, this featurette details every aspect of what went into the creation of “Bambi,” and compares the production to the evolution of “The Lion King,” which makes sense considering the time it was made.

WATCH “TRICKS OF OUR TRADE” EXCERPT:

“Tricks of Our Trade (excerpt)” (7:18) – Probably the most fascinating clip for me, this is an short chunk of a 1957 episode of the “Disneyland” television program, in which Walt describes, in detail, how the Multiplane Camera works and was designed. Very interesting for anyone curious to learn more about cel animation.

“Inside the Disney Archives” (8:39) – Andreas Deja, animator on “The Little Mermaid” and “The Lion King,” not to mention a Disney Legend, tours the Disney Animation Studios archives and takes a look at some priceless and cherished art from the creation of “Bambi.”

“The Old Mill” (8:58) – The full groundbreaking 1937 Silly Symphony cartoon designed as a test of many of the techniques later used to bring “Bambi” to life. This was Disney’s first use of the Multiplane Camera.

“The Golden Age” (6:24) – an examination of “Bambi” in the context of the other Disney animated features of the era, including up-close looks at “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and “Fantasia.”

Original Theatrical Trailer (2:12) – Obviously somewhat dated (but definitely good to have for completionists) promotional material from the first release of the film, focusing on the theme of love.

The “Bambi” 75th Anniversary Blu-ray release is a first-rate reissue of one of Walt Disney’s most beloved films, and it’s likely going to be a must for any collector, even if you’ve already got the previous version. “Bambi” is available starting today from most major retailers, and you can purchase a copy right now from Amazon.com.