Blu-Ray Review: Another Disney Classic Escapes From the Vault in ‘Bambi’

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CHICAGO – Disney always likes to keep consumers on their toes. After spreading out the canonical releases hitting Blu-ray, often with many months between them, they have delivered a one-two punch to the wallets of parents around the world by unleashing “Alice in Wonderland” on February 1st, 2011, and following it just a month later with an even more beloved classic in “Bambi.” If you’ve been following for any amount of time, you probably know how we feel about the Disney Blu-ray releases. They’re the best reason to buy a player. Blu-Ray Rating: 4.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 4.5/5.0

“Bambi” is almost seventy years old, coming fifth in the Disney canon after the amazing string of releases that started the legend — “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Pinocchio,” “Fantasia,” and “Dumbo” (all but the last one are available on Blu-ray and simply must be owned). Watching the interesting special feature “Inside Walt’s Story Meetings,” in which transcripts from Disney writing sessions are read alongside the related scenes, makes it clear that “Bambi” was an attempt at something a bit different for the studio — an attempt to recreate the beauty of nature while also appealing to the little ones.

Bambi was released on Blu-Ray and DVD combo pack on March 1st, 2011
Bambi was released on Blu-Ray and DVD combo pack on March 1st, 2011
Photo credit: Disney Home Video

Of course, the attempt worked. There’s something mesmerizing about “Bambi,” especially those early scenes in the forest as the creatures gather and light cracks through the trees. Most people remember the film primarily for how much the death of Bambi’s mother scarred them but, watching it again, the film’s greatest accomplishment comes clear — the recreation of the natural world. We believe Bambi, Thumper, and Flower exist and that makes their simple story much more resonant. Disney had done wonders with fairy tales and fantasy in their first four films but “Bambi” represented a turn into realism that one wishes they would employ more in the ’10s. “Bambi” is the kind of lyrical, poetic piece of animation that American studios simply don’t make any more.

Bambi was released on Blu-Ray and DVD combo pack on March 1st, 2011
Bambi was released on Blu-Ray and DVD combo pack on March 1st, 2011
Photo credit: Disney Home Video

And it looks even more striking in HD although this is not the first Disney Blu-ray I would use to show off the new LCD. The color palette of “Bambi” is more muted than some of the other Disney films to hit HD and the studio has wisely not over-polished the film. It still looks soft and it could have been disastrously overdone in the color department but it’s the kind of transfer to be intellectually appreciated more than viscerally enjoyed. It works for the film perfectly but only when you think about it.

The audio mix for “Bambi,” in English 7.1 DTS-HD High Resolution, is a beauty. It’s not often considered, but “Bambi” is a lovely film on an auditory level as well as the sounds of Bambi’s forest come to life in surround sound.

Once again, the special features for a Disney vault release are incredibly notable. I particularly enjoyed the aforementioned story meetings featurette and historians will love the deleted scenes (that have never been seen before) and the deleted song. The “Disney Second Screen” feature plays to internet-enabled Disney fans, which is probably the future, but “Bambi” is missing that one amazing retrospective, behind-the-scenes feature that has accompanied many of their other releases. It’s a minor blemish for another must-own title.

Special Features:
o Introduction by Diane Disney Miller
o 2 Never-before-seen Deleted Scenes
o Deleted Song
o Inside Walt’s Story Meetings - Enhanced Edition
o Disney Big Book Of Knowledge Game
o Interactive Blu-Ray Galleries
o Classic DVD Bonus Features
o DisneyPedia: Bambi’s Forest Friends
o DVD Version

“Bambi” was released on Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack by Disney on March 1st, 2011. content director Brian Tallerico

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