When discussing the greatest Disney films of all-time, no list would be complete without mentioning Bambi. Walt Disney’s fifth animated feature is almost a rite of passage and has once again come out of the Disney Vault, but this time as part of the Walt Disney Signature Collection. So far, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Beauty and the Beast, and Pinocchio have all been released as part of the Walt Disney Signature Collection. Bambi has been available once before on Blu-ray as part of the Diamond Edition, but that version did not come with a Digital Copy, unlike the Signature Collection which includes Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital. If you didn’t get Bambi the last time it was available to purchase, run out and get this copy right now! If you did pick it up, let’s go over what’s new to help you decide whether or not you should add this edition to your collection.
What would childhood be without Bambi. I certainly cannot answer that question. I, like many others, was one of the countless individuals who just couldn’t understand why Bambi’s mother had to die. Beyond that, Bambi is one of the most beautiful Disney animated features to ever be released and a lot of the beauty is in the simplicity. At its roots, Bambi is the story of a young fawn learning his way around the forest, and is one day destined to be the Great Prince of the Forest. Bambi is joined alongside by his pals Thumper and Flower and together they all mature and deal with problems primarily caused by humans.
However, as a work of art Bambi is much more complex. The animators spent serious time studying deer and other animals to achieve a realism in the characters unlike anything they worked on previously. The impressionistic, watercolor backgrounds inspired by the late Tyrus Wong set are gorgeous and set each scene perfectly, while keeping the characters at the forefront of the action. The effects used in the film are the culmination of previous efforts to make the animation feel more true to life than ever, and it completely works. Some audiences may find Bambi boring, but as a work of art it is completely stunning.
Like the other Walt Disney Signature Collection releases, Bambi has some brand new content created specifically for this release and the rest of the special features are brought over from the Diamond Edition release. Unless you are a diehard Bambi or Oswald the Lucky Rabbit fan, this new edition might not offer enough to entice an upgrade if you already have the Diamond Edition release. Let’s take a look at the new features.
- The Bambi Effect – As I mentioned previously, Bambi was riddled with a tremendous amount of effects from the realistic ripples from the rain drops to the swirling snow in winter and climaxing with the fiery finale. This special feature looks at all of the innovations created for Bambi and showcases who the techniques that were perfected for the movie were used on all Disney animated features even to this day. While this feature isn’t overly long, it is actually enjoyable and points out a lot of subtle details that you’ll be sure to watch for the next time you watch the film.
- Studio Stories: Bambi – This short is a very brief making-of Bambi, but it actually is quite enjoyable because recordings of Walt Disney serve as the narration for the feature. Walt goes into the issues creating Bambi, how the animators were able to realistically create the animals in the movie, how the effects department took the film to the next level, and why it was important that Bambi was made exactly when it was. This is BY FAR the standout feature on the Signature Collection.
- Deleted Scenes – Two brand new delete scenes have been uncovered with this release and are introduced by Disney Legend Floyd Norman. In Bambi’s Ice and Snow, we find out how Bambi seeing snow and winter for the first time could’ve been wildly different. In The Grasshopper, we meet new characters that didn’t end up making the final cut of the film. While neither deleted scene is groundbreaking, it is always a pleasure to discover new work by the classic Disney animators.
- Bambi Fawn Facts – This feature may be entertaining for children, but most adults will wonder why they even bothered watching this one. If you thought you knew everything about deer, skunks, and rabbits, you’ll quickly find out that you actually do. Hey, at least they masked this boring feature with a terrible “fawn facts” pun.
- Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: “Africa Before Dark” – This is an absolute treasure. Oswald fans will be happy to finally have an HD version of this lost cartoon that was found in its entirety at the Austrian Film Museum in Vienna. If this is your first introduction into Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, you will see that it is definitely rougher than the Mickey Mouse cartoons the world has come to know and love, but you can really see the roots of what Disney was on the road to accomplishing with Mickey and friends.
- Celebrating Tyrus Wong (Digital Exclusive) – I can only assume that this was a digital exclusive because it was made after the Blu-ray went out for pressing, but this amazing feature celebrates the life of the artist who inspired the backgrounds of Bambi. Wong spent more time at Warner Brothers than he did at Disney, but his time at Disney was critical in the development of Bambi. Wong passed away in December 2016, and this heartfelt tribute is the perfect way to remember a legend.
Most of the Diamond Edition features are also on this disc, but the highlights are The Making of Bambi: A Prince is Born, which is a six-part making-of the film; Inside the Disney Archives, which takes a look at some of rarely seen artwork of Bambi with Disney Legend Andreas Deja; and The Golden Age. The Old Mill is also featured on the disc, because some of the effects used in the short were a test for Bambi, but it looks rough despite the claim that it was remastered. Finally, the movie can be watched as Inside Walt’s Story Meetings: Extended Edition, which is more of a making-of then a way to watch the film, but it is a visual take on commentary tracks and well worth a watch if you’re looking for a new way to discover Bambi.
There are truly not enough compliments I can give regarding Bambi, but it is 100 percent an absolute must-own for any Disney movie fan. Unless Disney decided to release Bambi in 4K down the road, this is most likely the best copy of the movie you will find and the features are entertaining enough. If you don’t already own it or want the digital copy, buy it now, but it is probably unnecessary to double-dip if you already have Bambi in your Blu-ray collection.