Walt Disney’s Bambi: Diamond Edition
by Jef Burnham
Available in a Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack on March 1, 2011 from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
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I’m sure most everyone is familiar with Disney Studios’ fifth feature film about the deer Prince Bambi— a coming-of-age story told through a series of vignettes that run the emotional gamut from hilarious to heart-wrenching. While some consumers may be skeptical of yet another Bambi release a mere 6 years (to the day, in fact) after the studio gave us the wonderful 2-disc Platinum Edition, Disney has spared no effort in making the Diamond Edition well worth the additional investment.
The high definition transfer presented on the Diamond Edition Blu-ray is everything we’ve come to expect from the studio, and perhaps more. The detail in this transfer, when compared to previous releases, is unbelievable. The colors are vibrant and solid, where the colors of the Platinum transfer tended to be dull and splotchy. In addition, the 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 Diamond Edition is a significant improvement over the Platinum Edition in every respect, and the Platinum Edition was already vastly superior to all previous versions! In truth, were it not for the wonderful, albeit dated, 1942 voice work that characterizes Bambi, one might assume the film had been made yesterday given the incredibly high quality of this transfer. 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.
Many aspects of the film hold up incredibly well considering we are nearing the 70th anniversary of the film’s initial 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 spectacularly cool. On the other hand, there are those elements of the film which today come off as exceedingly heavy-handed by today’s standards, such as the film’s now all-too-common portrayal of that greatest of all cartoon evils: MAN! The hunters in the film, who aren’t even given faces, are ridiculous in that they will shoot at anything that moves. Deer and quail I can understand, but chipmunks and tiny sparrows? Even still, the film remains a masterpiece of animation for Walt Disney Studios and I cannot recommend this release enough.
The Blu-ray includes those special features available on previous DVD releases as well as a half dozen brand new features, including:
-Inside Walt’s Story Meetings
In addition, you get the option of ruining the intended viewing experience with Disneyview. Disneyview compensates for the fact that the film was shot with a 1.37:1 aspect ratio and widescreen TVs are 1.85:1 by filling in the remaining portion of the screen with paintings not intended by the animators to accompany the original film. They therefore have no business being there. Disneyview is the equivalent of putting wallpaper over 1/3 of your television.
The Bambi Diamond Edition also introduces the world to Disney’s brand new “Second Screen” technology for those times you paradoxically want to watch a movie and do anything BUT watch a movie at the same time. In essence, you play the film on your television, and instead of actually watching it, you sit with your iPad or computer and go through a bunch of glorified special features. “Second Screen” encourages not only the improper viewing of films, but also encourages the shorter attention spans. Movie theaters are already filled with the glow from cell phones of the inconsiderate and easily distracted, and “Second Screen” can only make the situation worse.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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