Bambi (1942)

(On TV, June 2018) Unlike many classic Disney movies whose reputation has outstripped their substance (Do no, I repeat, DO NOT try to watch Peter Pan), Bambi is almost exactly what it seems to be: A coming-of-age story involving a deer and other talking animals. Yes, the mom still gets shot by hunters. But everything else is what it is. On the one hand—great, you’re getting your money’s worth. On the other—the film does feel limited at some point, almost as if it was a nature documentary with added spoken interludes. Still, the film is often very cute, charming, and a hit with kids (as long as you get over the mother being shot and all). This was one of Disney’s last feature-length movies for a while: the studio was commandeered during WW2 and had trouble gearing back to long-story production. (Its next feature film from the studio would be Cinderella in 1950.)  It enough to make you wonder what could have happened if Disney had been able to control its next few years: Bambi was a departure from the studio’s previous films in its more realistic approach, and we’ll never quite know what could have emerged from that direction.

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