Rating -

Childrenís Animated (US); 1942; NR; 69 Min.

Hardie Albright: Bambi
Peter Behn: Thumper
Stan Alexander: Flower
Cammie King: Faline

Produced by Walt Disney; Directed by David Hand; Screenwritten by Chuch Couch, Carl Fallberg, Larry Morey, Felix Salten, Melvin Shaw, Vernon Stallings and Ralph Wright

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Written by DAVID KEYES

How do you review one of your favorite movies? I canít tell you how many times Iíve pondered that question upon writing this review. Thatís because itís true--"Bambi" is probably one of the best movies ever made. And why? Simply because it portrays real serious life issues in a movie made for children. Not many films do this, but the standard Disney movie like "Pinocchio" or "Beauty And The Beast" does. In Disneyís golden age, however, he was at his best, and after everything the studio has been through, "Bambi" remains the triumph.

This may sound like a constructive criticism, but itís actually, in a way, good advice. Small children might not be able to handle subject matter like the kind displayed here, because it involves some more adult-oriented, pressing issues, like the urge to hunt for animals, the urges to dominate, and the processions of lifeís changes like puberty and hormones. In the beginning of "Bambi," we meet the title character, a young prince born under the observation of the king of the forest, or more appropriately, his father. Later, in a fateful winter storm scene, Bambiís mother is killed by a vicious hunter, therefore leaving only his father to raise him. At this point, heís still very young, without antlers, supporting spots on his back.

And wouldnít you know it? Next spring, he emerges a full-grown deer, with antlers and the standard puberty-toned voice. Also around this time, he meets up with one of his childhood friends, named Faline, and instead of the friendship there, itís an instant attraction. And Iím not talking about your typical goo goo eyes and smiles. Iím talking about swing music in the background, getting all hot and sweaty, etc., the things that puberty might do to us when we witness beautiful specimens of the opposite sex.

Actually, Bambi himself isnít devoted to these characteristics during that spring. He is more or less exposed to them by his friends who act this way upon finding their soul mates. In this manner, I speak of Thumper and Flower, the two cute animals who Bambi spends his life with. Thumper, the rabbit, taught him how to ice skate, how to talk, how to smell flowers--basically, the things normal forest animals enjoy most. Heís called Thumper because to alarm others, he thumps his foot rapidly on the ground. But since "Bambi" is such a popular family movie, I probably donít need to tell you that.

Flower is the real winner. Heís a bashful, cute skunk who was named so when Bambi was still beginning to talk, and the deer mistook him for one. He used that name ever since, and its one that perfectly fits him as well. Heís sweet, beautiful, and grandeur in every little way. Yet his life is simple.

Of course, thereís more seriousness in the movie than meets the eye. Who could dare forget those moments when the faceless, nameless hunters accidentally start a fire that wipes out the whole forest. Most of the characters, luckily, escape, but not at an easy cost. Faline herself is almost killed by a pack of ravaging dogs, and Bambi almost finds certain death when heís shot. But with his fatherís belief in him, Bambi does succeed.

So I guess, in short, the best way to review a special movie like "Bambi" is to say what you feel. It was one of the first movies I was exposed to, and being such a fanatic of this area of entertainment, it has always remained one of my favorites. I only wish it could have showed up in the American Film Instituteís Top 100 Movies.

© 1998, David Keyes, Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
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