Bambi’s mom died.
Maybe that’s stating the obvious, but it is often cited as one of the most powerful moments in animation. Not only for the sheer effect of the moment and the empathy we feel for Bambi, but it made it clear animation wasn’t just for children. There was a sophistication about Bambi that was the hallmark of Disney films and each new feature built upon the triumphs of the past. As it said in the special features, the advances the Walt Disney Studios made during that time were revolutionary. They continued to utilize and create new technology with each movie that enhanced every one after it. So when Bambi’s mom died, it felt authentically real.
For me, it’s been over a decade (maybe two) since I’ve seen the film and watching it again on Blu-Ray with all the added features was almost like discovering it brand new. With deleted scenes, a deleted song, two animated shorts, and an entire “The Making of Bambi” there is at least as much bonus material as there is movie. If you recently picked up Bambi when it was released in Diamond Edition format, a lot of the bonus material on that disc is also on this one. In fact, a few features on the Diamond Edition didn’t make it to the new Signature Collection. However, there are some features that can only be found on this release. Two new deleted scenes, a new Oswald the Lucky Rabbit short, a feature celebrating the work of artist Tyrus Wong, and perhaps my favorite feature – “Studio Stories.”
“Studio Stories” are archival recordings of Walt Disney talking about Bambi interspersed with archival footage set to whatever Walt was talking about. What’s great about it is you hear the perspective of the man who shaped the studio and delve into his thoughts about this classic film. He talks about the difference between observing deer in the wild vs. domesticated deer and how he was striving for a certain realism in the behaviors of his animals to make them more believable to the audience. He talked about the creation of the effects department and why they were so important. And he told an adorable story about his daughter Diane. Diane loved the book and when Walt screened the film for his family, Diane asked him, “Daddy, why did you have to kill Bambi’s mother?” And Walt replied, “Well, it was in the book, dear.” And she responded, “There were plenty of things in the book that you changed. Why didn’t you change that?” Walt laughed, “She had me!”
If you don’t already own Bambi on Blu-Ray or Digital HD, this is a must-have for your collection. First of all, the movie is a classic and still holds up today for beauty and complexity of animation. If for no other reason you need this in your Disney collection as it really is a hallmark of the Studios. And with all the other bonus features this simply makes it something you can’t resist. And if you don’t own the Diamond Edition, the “Inside Walt’s Story Meetings Edition” of the film is incredible. Basically a commentary with Walt Disney recreated from story notes and meetings Walt had with his team. Just well done and well crafted. If you already own the Diamond Edition, that’s a tough call. Certainly the new features are tantalizing. Like I said, I love the “Studio Stories” segment and the deleted scenes and the feature on Tyrus Wong are great. “The Bambi Effect” highlights how far-reaching this film actually is – everything from Retta Scott as the first female animator to the creation of the effects department is in there. The Oswald short wasn’t impressive by itself but neat for its historical significance since it was only recently found and restored. “Bambi Fawn Facts” is cute like its name but isn’t that meaningful of a piece. So you have to make the call, but the Signature Collection of Bambi is a wonderful piece of work and worthy of your collection!