March 1, 2005


'Bambi' returns, fresh as a flower
: After a 14-month restoration, the 1942 Disney classic is released on DVD. (Susan King, March 1, 2005, LA Times)

It took 14 months and 9,500 hours to restore and preserve all 110,000 frames of Walt Disney's classic 1942 animated film, "Bambi," the company says, and the end result comes out today on a two-disc DVD.

"This is the first of a major corporate initiative to do film restoration at the studio," says Disney animation director Dave Bossert, who served as artistic supervisor for the "Bambi" restoration.

The studio initiative, Bossert adds, "is about commerce to some degree, but it is about preserving artwork. For me, I equated this process to lying on your back on the scaffolding at the Sistine Chapel with a Q-tip taking centuries of dirt off a fresco. To me it is the same thing. 'Bambi' is a work of art."

One of Disney's greatest animated movies, "Bambi," adapted from Felix Salten's novel, focuses on the natural cycle of a young deer from his birth and adolescence through the birth of his own two fawns. Besides Bambi, who is destined to become the prince of the forest, the beloved characters include the funny bunny Thumper, the shy skunk Flower and the spirited fawn Faline who wins Bambi's heart.

Disney's animators, including the legendary Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, spent three years working on the film that elevated the art of animation with beautiful impressionistic watercolor backgrounds, realistically rendered animals and endearing characters.

Andreas Deja, a Disney animator who has brought such characters as Scar from "The Lion King" to life on screen, says the contemporary animators look upon the film with a sense of "awe."

"It is one of those films that has a very, very simple story. They focused on a very simple outline, and that gave animators a chance to really let the characters breathe and deal with each other and also have them come up with a sequence like Bambi and Thumper on the ice. It's totally character driven," Deja says.

We got an early release and it's magnificent.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 1, 2005 8:16 AM

For me, I equated this process to lying on your back on the scaffolding at the Sistine Chapel with a Q-tip taking centuries of dirt off a fresco. To me it is the same thing. 'Bambi' is a work of art.

Well that's a relief! I was afraid he was about to say that as for him, Bambi leaves Michelangelo in the dust.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at March 1, 2005 8:54 AM

Walt is God.

Posted by: oj at March 1, 2005 9:09 AM

As a young boy seeing that movie in a theater, I cried during a part of it. Is that going to happen when I see it again. Yes, I hope so.

Walt wanted children to know that life is not all sweetness and light. Even in a cartoon.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at March 1, 2005 10:04 AM

Old Disney stuff is fantastic. I really like the old shorts like the Silly Symphonies, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, et al.

The Disney station used to run the old stuff at night called Vault Disney. They had one program called the Ink & Paint Club and it was great. Unfortunately, the stopped running Vault Disney. They now run crap.

I believe they have been releasing them on DVD. We have the Disney Goes to War DVD set. It is great.

Pinnochio, Saludos Amigos and the Three Caballeros are fine films.

Posted by: pchuck at March 1, 2005 10:13 AM

Believe it or not, Disney's actually trying to figure out a way to release "Song of the South" on DVD either sometime later this year or in 2006. The main problem right now seems to be finding the proper venue to release it in without bringing down the wrath of the PC police (and the rest of the big media outlets) on the studio. They may try to follow the steps of the Disney Goes to War DVDs, which means lots of explanations about context by Leonard Maltin or some other presenter in front of the actual film.

Posted by: John at March 1, 2005 1:05 PM

Now we are never going to be able to get rid of the oversized rats that are destroying our garden.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at March 2, 2005 2:56 AM

John Coupal:

Me too, I cried buckets at Bambi and also Old Yeller, A Dog in Flanders and a few others. I notice that none of my three kids (who I like to think were raised right) ever seemed to cry at movies, and it bugged me at times. Do kids cry at movies anymore? Is it the kids or the movies?

Posted by: Peter B at March 2, 2005 7:00 AM

I seem to remember spending an awful lot of time thinking about Bambi, around age 5. My folks insisted I read the Felix Salten book too. That may have been one of the first sparks of a literary inclination that survives to this day.

Posted by: Judd at March 2, 2005 9:53 AM