Blu-ray
Highly Recommended
4.5 stars
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Overall Grade
4.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
3.5 Stars
Supplements
3.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
4 Stars
Bottom Line
Highly Recommended

Bambi (Two-Disc Diamond Edition)

Street Date:
March 1st, 2011
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
February 23rd, 2011
Movie Release Year:
1942
Studio:
Disney/Buena Vista
Length:
69 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated G
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Coming on the heels of 'Fantasia's release, it's easy to see that film's influence throughout Disney's fifth animated feature, 'Bambi.' Truthfully, 'Bambi' plays out like an extended 'Fantasia' sequence. There are more scenes set succinctly to music than scenes with dialogue. It's a simple tale of a young fawn and his struggle to grow into an adult deer in forest fraught with danger.

Walt Disney was simply obsessed with wildlife. He loved it and is even given credit for creating the nature documentary genre where animals were given backstories and personalities by a narrator. People criticized him for this, but we can see his influence on the nature documentary passed down through time where new documentaries like 'Planet Earth,' and 'Life' use the exact same approach.

Based on the book “Bambi, A Life in the Woods” Disney was able to craft a simple yet profound movie about the lives of animals in the forest. He gave them voices and personalities, but never over-indulged. Much of 'Bambi' is dialogue free as we let the animation and rich soundtrack wash over us.

Bambi's birth is the heralding of a new age in the forest. All the forest creatures gather to see the young prince after his birth. Bambi grows up in the forest, learning lessons from his mother. He learns where to find food and how to survive harsh winters. He also learns how to be wary of man and how to spot danger.

The mannerisms of the deer here are spot-on. You can tell that Disney and his team deeply researched the ways they move and act. When Bambi's mother cautiously walks out into the meadow her movements directly mimic the way real deer act in those kinds of situations. The realism of 'Bambi' is one of its many attributes. So often in today's animated films with talking animals, the animators try too hard to make the animals human-like. They'll make four-legged creatures become bi-pedal for no other reason than to make them appear more human. Disney, on the other hand, wasn't interested in caricatures of animals. It's evident that he was interested in telling a heartfelt story about how dangerous life is for animals in the woods.

'Bambi' even sparked debates around the nation about hunting after its release. So deeply ingrained into our culture was Disney and his films that it caused a national rethinking of hunting practices. Whether or not that's a good thing is up for debate, but the fact that an animated movie could have that kind of impact is simply astounding.

'Bambi,' like most of the earlier Disney animated features, runs at a brisk 70 minutes. There's not much embellishment going on here. Just a story about a young deer who overcomes the obstacles of living in the wild. Sure, it's got all the requisite cute Disney characters and even an old owl used for comedic relief, but 'Bambi' really does pack an emotional punch even today. The story is so straightforward and uncomplicated that it's easy to see why it's lauded as an animation classic.

The Disc: Vital Stats

This 'Bambi' release is a Disney Diamond Edition. It comes complete with a 50GB Blu-ray Disc copy of the film, along with a DVD copy. An embossed slipcover is provided.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Coming up on its 70th birthday, the film was released in 1942, this Blu-ray is the best the movie has ever looked. Kudos to Disney for taking such great care of their films that when the time comes for transferring them to different formats they're left with pristine video.

Disney's 1080p AVC-encoded image (framed at 1.35:1) looks simply stunning. The cel animation has held up well, as the lush colors shine through here. Slight shadows and ringing appear around characters from time to time, but it's a byproduct of the cel animation and not a knock on the overall look of the transfer.

This is a clean transfer from top to bottom. A 69 year-old source from which I never noticed one scratch, fleck, or hair pop up. There is a little color waning at the beginning as backgrounds subtly flicker from one color to the next, but if that's the only negative thing I could find then this transfer is doing marvelously.

The detail here is astounding, from the individual brush strokes of the more abstractly painted backgrounds, to the solid, concise lines of the character art, everything is perfectly reproduced. Clarity is superb. One shot, while Bambi is sliding around on the ice, seemed to take on a much softer nature than the rest of the movie, but that was the only instance of that happening. Blacks are deep and foreboding. The scene where Bambi fights for Faline is home to some tremendous dark sequences that still bring out every little detail of the animator's pen.

Everything about this transfer is simply superb. As is normal with Disney animated releases I didn't notice any problem with compression artifacts. Everything from aliasing to blocking stays miles away from this. It's just fantastic all around.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

'Bambi' bounds onto Blu-ray with a newly remixed DTS-HD High Resolution soundtrack featuring a 7.1 soundfield. A little confused here, as a DTS-HD High Resolution track doesn't offer lossless audio like a DTS-HD Master Audio track would.

This is one of the most reserved 7.1 tracks I've heard from Disney. The rear speakers are unengaged most of the time. The roaring soundtrack provided by Frank Churchill and Edward Plumb seems to be centered in up front in the soundstage without really finding its way through the side and rear channels.

Still, dialogue is reproduced nicely albeit a little low. LFE provides tension for the more dramatic scenes. The overall effect of the soundtrack sounds like it has taken on a bit of age, but it works nicely here. I just don't understand the reasoning behind offering a lossy audio presentation when Disney has been consistently releasing its most prized animated films with lossless audio.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • The Making of Bambi: A Prince is Born (SD, 52 min.) — Spread across six separate segments (“"Story," "Characters," "Actors," "Art Design," "Music" and "History”) this documentary about the movie is an in-depth conversation about everything you'd want to know about 'Bambi.' It covers just about everything from how the art for the movie was thought up and created to the different woodland creatures that were chosen to populate Bambi's forest home.

  • Deleted Scenes (HD and SD, 8 min.) — Included here are 2 never-before-seen (Blu-ray Exclusive) deleted scenes, “Two Leaves” and “Bambi Stuck on a Reed”, which are shown in high definition. The other two scenes, “"Winter Grass" and "Bambi's First Snow", have been carried over from the previously released DVD version.

  • Inside the Disney Archives (SD, 9 min.) — A Disney animator visits the Disney Vault to look over and examine some of the movie's original artwork.

  • Tricks of the Trade (SD, 7 min.) — Walt Disney shows off the multi-plane camera technique that was used to film this and many other Disney animated features.

  • 'The Old Mill' (SD, 9 min.) — A “Silly Symphony” animated short from 1937.

  • Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2 min.) — The original theatrical trailer is provided, but only in standard definition.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

  • Bambi: Inside Walt's Story Meetings (HD) —

    No this is a supplement that Disneyphiles like myself froth at the mouth for. This is a PiP track that features Walt Disney and his crew meeting together to come up with the project of 'Bambi.' Everything from archived footage to exact transcripts of the meetings are used to give us a full account of how Walt Disney and his team were able to pull off this movie.

    As the feature is playing, at times you'll be prompted to hit your enter button on the remote. This allows you to access a even more information about Disney, the production, and even includes classic animated shorts that seamlessly transition from the movie. Altogether this feature has been spectacularly put together and is something that any Disney fan would love to see.


  • Interactive Galleries (HD) — A seemingly endless array of sketches, paintings, concept art, and stills from the movie.

  • Disney Second Screen — A new feature that Disney is going to be including offers viewers the chance to synch up their laptop and iPads to the movie to unlock more exclusive content. Visit DisneyMovieRewards.com/SecondScreen for more details. As of the writing of this review the page isn't actually live yet so I can't explain what kind of extra features you'll get with this.

  • Disney's Big Book of Knowledge (HD) — A kid-centric feature that allows kids to take a tour of Bambi's woodland habitat and meet his furry pals.

  • Disney View (HD) — This is a feature for people who hate staring at those black side bars for the entirety of the movie. Artwork from Disney artist Lisa Keene is used to fill the black bars up with woodsy paintings.

  • Deleted Song (Audio Only, 2 min.) — This a recording of a song called “Twitterpated” that was left out of the movie's final cut.

Final Thoughts

I adore 'Bambi'. It really is a timeless classic, and in it is preserved a piece of Walt Disney that loved nature and the animals that inhabited it. The film's simple story, about a young deer growing up in a world fraught with danger, is still inspiring, and at times freighting. Disney has yet again amazed us by delivering another demo-worthy video transfer, but oddly the 7.1 audio presentation comes in a lossy format, which really is too bad. Finally, with the wonderful package of bonus content that's been put together this one comes highly recommended.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.33:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD High Resolution Audio 7.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH, English, French, Spanish

Supplements

  • The Making of Bambi: A Prince is Born
  • Tricks of the Trade (Excerpt)
  • Inside the Disney Archives
  • The Old Mill short
  • DisneyPedia

Exclusive HD Content

  • Inside Walt's Story Meetings - Enhanced Editions
  • 2 Never-Before-Seen Deleted Scenes
  • Deleted Song
  • Blu-ray Archives
  • Disney's Big Book of Knowledge: Bambi Edition

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

Puzzled by the technical jargon in our reviews, or wondering how we assess and rate HD DVD and Blu-ray discs? Learn about our review methodology.

List Price
$39.99
Amazon
$32.97 (18%)
3rd Party
$15.98
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»