Walt Disney’s Bambi: Anniversary Edition

| June 5, 2017

Most folks, I imagine, are familiar with Disney Studios’ fifth feature film about the deer Prince Bambi– a coming-of-age story told through a series of alternatingly hilarious and heart-warming vignettes. Released in 1942, it’s a film many of us grew up with. When I was a kid, you either owned it on VHS or could rent it at literally any video rental shop in town! It was ever-present. And that hasn’t changed. The “Disney Vault’s” constant threat to gobble up your childhood favorite films and keep them away from you like some sort of home video bully is no longer felt today given the sheer number of Disney home video releases available.

From the obsolete VHS tapes through the once-definitive 2-disc Platinum Edition DVD and the subsequent 2011 Blu-ray Diamond Edition, if you want a copy of Bambi, it’s out there. Now more than ever is this true with this week’s release of Bambi in a 75th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack as part of “The Signature Collection.” While it may not differ dramatically from the Diamond Edition Blu-ray, this Anniversary Edition combo pack does mix up the special features considerably and include a digital copy of the film, available here for the first time.

The high definition transfer presented on the Anniversary Edition Blu-ray (the same used for the previous Diamond Edition) is everything you’d expect from a Disney restoration, and perhaps more. The detail in this transfer, when compared to previous DVD and VHS releases, is unbelievable. The colors are vibrant and solid, where the colors of the Platinum DVD transfer tended to be dull and splotchy. This vastly increased clarity accentuates the film’s gorgeous backgrounds to the point where individual brushstrokes are made visible. With regard to picture quality, the Bambi Blu-ray is a significant improvement over previous DVDs, making this as good a time as any to upgrade if you’ve yet to spring for the film on HD!

It’s such a significant improvement over the DVDs that when you look at the film on Blu-ray, were it not for the wonderful, albeit dated, 1942 voice work of Bambi, you might well assume the film had been made yesterday. That’s how pristine the transfer is. Really, The only drawback to this increased clarity is that it draws attention to the very occasional jittery still image or jerky movement in the animation.

Those brief animation anomalies aside, many aspects of the film hold up incredibly well considering we’re rapidly nearing the 75th anniversary of the film’s initial theatrical release. Thumper still elicits no small amount of chuckles and the battle sequences near the conclusion of the film, especially that between Bambi and a rival male, are incredibly atmospheric and exciting. The film remains a masterpiece of animation for Walt Disney Studios and I cannot recommend this release enough if you’ve yet to upgrade from DVD.

Again, the Blu-ray itself hasn’t changed considerably in the transition from Diamond to Anniversary Edition apart from the inclusion of some new special features and the removal of a few others, including (thankfully) the “Second Screen” experience which encouraged you to pay attention to your tablet or computer rather than watch the movie. Special features new to this edition include:

-“The Bambi Effect” featurette about the influence of Bambi‘s innovations on future Disney films;
-two newly-released deleted scenes;
-“Studio Stories: Bambi” in which Walt Disney discusses the challenges, pitfalls and triumphs during the production of Bambi;
-“Bambi Fawn Facts”
-a Digital Exclusive featurette about artist Tyrus Wong’s influence on Bambi;
-and, to my mind the greatest feature on the release, an HD version of the vintage, 1928 Oswald the Lucky Rabbit short, “Africa Before Dark.”

About the Author:

Jef is a writer and educator in Chicago, Illinois. He holds a degree in Media & Cinema Studies from DePaul University, but sometimes he drops it and picks it back up again. He's also the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com and is fueled entirely by coffee (as if you couldn't tell).
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