"BAMBI DEER?" "YES, HE IS, DARLING." @ 9 March 2011 03:55 PM
Sorry for the Police Squad-style gag.

The great thing about a great film is its ability to elicit a nostalgic response in addition to taking on a new meaning with each new viewing.

Seeing Bambi again after a few years, this time with my own family on the new Diamond Edition, brought back the memories of each time I saw it in the past (this goes back to the 1960s) and how it resonated then and still does now. This is perhaps the closest an animated film comes to being a moving painting, a work of art in motion. Yet, Bambi is even more than that because the effect is more than visual.

Bambi has one of the most powerful and imitated musical scores in the film industry. Let's face it, when "man in in the forest," it might as well be Jaws. And while its last two songs are more a part of the 1940s period in which it was first released, the first two, "Love is a Song" and "Little April Shower," are masterworks, in their composition and execution.

The main observation I took away from seeing Bambi this time around was how much it reminded me of a Hayao Miyazaki film in tone and design. There are many held cels, pausing for emotional effect much like anime, and the environmental theme has had decade-long ramifications. I wonder if the great Japanese animator was inspired by this film in particular.

The one aspect of Bambi that was played down over the years has been the voice cast. No voice cast received less credit in a Disney animated feature, as was Walt Disney's plan at the time, because it was felt that knowing the voices detracted from the animated characters (which is arguably true, especially in this age of star voices). But it's nice that the cast has been revealed more recently and can be researched elsewhere, though not so much in the DVD, except for some comments on a bonus feature.

The person I would like to bring into the spotlight here is Paula Winslowe, who embodied the warmth and strength of Bambi's mother flawlessly with impeccable diction and remarkable depth in so few lines. It may surprise fans of the golden age radio classic, The Life of Riley, that Ms. Winslowe played the long-suffering yet loving wife, Peg, to William Bendix's Chester A. Riley -- a fine example of her versatility.

The new Blu-ray is stunning, as the film itself is, and features a new interactive feature that allows you to access additional material on your laptop while the film plays (in addition to a few new bonus features). Most but not all of the older bonus material presented on the previous two-disc DVD, but I'm keeping my old one to keep all the features.

Props to the people at Walt Disney Home Entertainment for not being completely Blu-ray-centric for those who still cling to standard DVD by including the newly-enhanced "Inside Walt's Story Meetings" feature, which replaces Patrick Stewart from the earlier version (another reason to keep the old DVD set) and adds about 26 additional minutes of expert, on camera commentary and a constant stream of supporting visuals that fly by on the screen as the entire film plays. This sort of feature appeared on the recent Blu-ray of Alice in Wonderland and it is a terrific experience. Kudos to the people who worked so hard on it. Maybe this kind of feature, which is like an audio commentary only very visual, needs a catchy name like "ArchiveVision." I hope more Disney titles include this fine feature.

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