Monday, January 16, 2012

Bambi (rating: B)

The movie Bambi repeats the same pattern over and over again: 30 to 120 seconds of cute animation on a flat impressionistic background, accompanied by symphony music, which is then followed by some brief dialog.  Walt Disney made a decision to try to carry the movie with animation and music while keeping the dialog and plot to a minimum.  Not only is the plot thin and slow, I found myself wondering if this was some sort of exercise to get us to listen to symphony music?  The foreground animation is excellent, but for the first 53 minutes, the flatness of the background and slowness of the pace never cease to remind us that we are watching an animated film.  Fortunately the last 16 minutes of this 69 minute film are intense with action.  Only then did I really feel caught up in the story.

It is what it is.  Bambi is part of our American culture.  I suppose that some people would consider the movie to be high art.  Seventy years ago audiences probably thought that this was one of the greatest movies they had ever seen, and they were probably right.  But if this movie were made today, it would need three times the dialog and three times the plot.

The only time I was really impressed with the animation was when the movie uses multiple layers to zoom in and out.  For brief moments, the movie breaks out of its 2D mode to give us a good illusion of 3 dimensions. It happens so seldom that it contrasts too much with the rest of the movie.

Children might fall in love with all the cute animals, but then again they might get bored.  I found the story to be barely adequate, but I also thought that some of the characters, like Thumper with his delightful voice and one tooth, were fun to watch.

On the DVD, the documentary about how the movie was made is just as entertaining as the movie.

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