Before heading out on a Disney trip, I like to take tie to rewatch some Disney animated films. This gets me in the mood for the parks, and also reminds me of the characters I’ll see and the songs I’ll hear. One of the films I just watched is Bambi, an endeavor partly inspired by the recent PBS biography of Walt Disney. It’s one of the classic films, something he had a hand in, and, because of that, special.
I didn’t have a huge connection with this film as a kid. In part I’m sure this is because I was too obsessed with the films of my time: Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and, oh goodness, The Lion King. But also I think Bambi was almost too ingrained in popular culture by that point. I knew his mother died before I ever sat down to watch it, and the shock and sadness I felt at the moment came more from intention (I’m supposed to be sad here, right? Okay. Okay, got it. I am sad.) than from any real feeling. I certainly wasn’t sitting at the edge of the couch, gripping my knee caps, and suppressing a strangled cry like I was during a different animal-based Disney movie…
Watching it now, there are definitely things I appreciated about it. The animation is lovely, and I got the same delight out of young Bambi tangling up his gangly limbs when Thumper teaches him to hop as I did when I was little, and I didn’t remember the scene of Bambi running through the snowy woods looking for his mother being quite so eerie. There are some classic quotes from that are just associated with the Disney brand (“Man is in the forest.”), and the owl gave us the word twitterpated! And of course, there’s Flower. How can you not love flower?
Still, while I appreciate it, I don’t love Bambi. The story jolts for me, jumping from one season to the next, and aside from the fire and the escape from the hunters at the end, there’s not much in the way of danger or drama, to keep really grab me by the ears and make me pay attention. It’s a sleepy film, and while that’s not always bad, it doesn’t have much of an effect on me here.
I’ll likely see this movie again, watching parts of it when it appears on TV, or sitting with my hypothetical future children when they watch it — because anyone who grows into a Disney fan, or more broadly an animation fan, should see it. But it’s certainly not one of my favorite films.
What other Disney films should I watch? I recently played Lilo & Stitch (maybe I’ll write a post about that) and I’ve got a rented copy of Snow White waiting to be watched. And I have to watch Lion King before I go. I have to. But what else can I squeeze into 2 and 1/2 weeks?