Bambi is the fifth animated feature in the Disney animated features canon, originally released to theatres by RKO Radio Pictures on August 13, 1942 and produced by Walt Disney. The film is based on the 1939 book Bambi, A Life in the Woods by Austrian author Felix Salten. The main characters are Bambi, the young roe deer prince of the forest; his parents, the Great Prince of the forest and his unnamed mother; and his friends Thumper, a rabbit; Flower, a skunk; and his childhood friend and future mate, Faline, a doe. For the movie, Disney took the liberty of changing Bambi's species into a white-tailed deer to visually emphasize him against the colored backgrounds.


Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

The story of the natural life cycle—birth, death and rebirth—is the true plot of the film. It is a case study in the very basics of life: the "doe-eyed" innocence of childhood; parental love; discovering and learning about the world around us (both its beauty and its danger); loss and grief; developing friendships; loyalty; balancing risk and need; growing toward independence; being at one and in harmony with nature; and romantic love.

Like the majority of Walt Disney's feature-length animated narratives, Bambi embraces both joy and tragedy. It is a movie that alternates frequently between these two extremes, with the one typically being used to set up the other. For instance, the joy of Bambi's first walk through the forest is interrupted by a frightening thunderstorm. His first visit to the meadow is joyful until it is interrupted by the villain Man who fires upon him and his mother and father.

The pivotal scene in the movie involves Bambi's mother and her death at the hand of Man. In the sequence, the audience sees the joy/tragedy motif used again. The scene is set in late winter, and Bambi and his mother struggle to find food as mournful music plays. Joy is felt as they discover a patch of new grass, signaling the arrival of spring, and joyful music is heard on the soundtrack. As they feast, the mood changes again, and we hear Man approach off-screen, represented only by his theme music (a low, three-note motif). Bambi's mother suddenly catches Man's scent, and orders her child to run, but she is too late. As they flee across the snow field, a shot rings out. The camera stays with Bambi as he runs through the forest, finally stopping to catch his breath. He notices at this time (as does the audience) that his mother is nowhere to be seen.

In a series of heartbreaking dissolves, Bambi wanders desperately through the forest calling for her, but no answer comes. He is startled by the sudden appearance of his father, the Great Prince, who tells him that his mother cannot be with him any more. He casts his head to the ground, and when he lifts it again, the audiences see that he is crying, realizing what has happened. He follows his father into the forest, taking one last look back as he leaves his childhood and innocence behind.

The movie then skips forward in time to the spring, where Bambi, Thumper, Flower, and Faline are all seen having grown up to adulthood. They become "twitterpated" over potential mates. Bambi and Faline become a couple, however their happiness is threatened by Ronno, a buck who is himself after Faline. He fights with Bambi and at first seems to have the upper hand until Bambi somehow manages to wind him in his shoulder and throw him from the clifftop on which they were fighting. He falls from the cliff and into the river, from which he is not seen again bambi than takes faline to the meadow where after a game of chase settle down in each other embrace and fall asleep as night fell.

Man enters the forest again, and is responsible for a forest fire that sends all the life in the forest running for refuge in a river. Bambi and his father barely escape.

The film ends with the birth of Bambi and Faline's twin fawns.

The death of Bambi's mother is one of the most famous moments in American film history, a moment so upsetting to certain children that they had to be carried screaming out of the theater during Bambi's numerous theatrical presentations. For this reason, and because of the horror and violence of the climactic hunting/forest fire sequence, many critics question the suitability of Bambi as a film appropriate for very young audiences. When one takes Bambi together with the other Disney feature films created during the same period of the early 40's, such as the dark Pinocchio, the powerful Fantasia, and the serious Victory Through Air Power, one can see an attempt by Walt Disney to produce films pushing against the stereotype of Disney animation being "children's films".


Re-release schedule and home videoEdit

Bambi was released in theaters in 1942, during World War II and was Disney's fifth full length animated film. It was an advance over the previous movies in sophistication of the animation, due to the experience gained in character animation at the Disney studio. The famous art direction of Bambi, which suggests emotion and the feeling of a forest rather than depicting a real forest, was due to the influence of Tyrus Wong, a former painter who provided eastern and painterly influence to the backgrounds. Bambi was re-released to theaters on 1947, 1957, 1966, 1975, 1982, and 1988. It was released on VHS video in 1989 (The Classics version), 1997 (Masterpiece Collection version) and remastered and restored for the March 1, 2005 Platinum Edition DVD and Blu-ray Disc.[1] The Platinum Edition DVD and Blu-ray Disc will go on moratorium on January 31, 2007. [2]

Bambi theatrical release historyEdit

  • August 13, 1942 (New York City, New York release)
  • August 21, 1942 (USA release)
  • December 25, 1947
  • July 3, 1957
  • March 25, 1966
  • June 20, 1975
  • June 4, 1982
  • July 15, 1988
  • July 13, 1990
  • June 25, 1993
  • December 25, 1999
  • July 26, 2002

Worldwide release datesEdit

  • U.K.: August 8, 1942
  • Argentina: December 9, 1942
  • Mexico: February 4, 1943
  • Sweden: October 4, 1943
  • Norway: December 26, 1946
  • Denmark: March 3, 1947
  • France: July 15, 1947
  • Finland: August 29, 1947
  • Italy: February 11, 1948
  • Spain: September 11, 1950
  • West Germany: December 19, 1950
  • Japan: May 18, 1951

Recycled animation from Bambi in other filmsEdit

Animation from Bambi has been reused in several other Disney films, especially footage of birds, leaves and generic woodland. For example, one scene in The Fox and the Hound reused footage of the animals running from the rain in Bambi's "Little April Shower" sequence. The most reused footage from Bambi are the few seconds of Bambi's mother looking up from eating grass just before she is killed by the hunter. This footage has been used in hunting scenes in The Sword in the Stone and The Jungle Book. It is also featured in The Rescuers during the song "Someone's Waiting For You" and in the opening scene of Beauty and the Beast. Even a later Donald Duck short featured Bambi and his mother. They are drinking from a stream and then a bunch of garbage floats past them in it and Bambi's mother says to him calmly, "Man is in the forest. Let's dig out." They then leave.


  • Although Man is never seen in the film, the ominous music that sometimes plays in the film clues the audience that Man is stalking nearby (see leitmotif). The use of implied violence by an unseen threat, expressed solely through music (a low, simple, repeating musical motif), was a powerful psychological technique later adopted by Steven Spielberg in Jaws (1975).
  • In a recent interview to Newsweek magazine, Spielberg says that he considers Bambi the biggest crying movie of all time. "When I was a kid, I would actually get up in the middle of the night and make sure my parents were still alive." [3]
  • The off-screen character of "Man" has been named one of the 50 Greatest Screen Villains by the American Film Institute. [4]
  • In 1993, the producers at Warner Bros. Animation made a parody of this element on one of their Animaniacs episodes, a Slappy Squirrel segment entitled "Bumbie's Mom." In it, Slappy and her nephew Skippy go see the movie "Bumbie," which is a direct parody of Bambi, down to a Thumper-like rabbit who bumps his buttocks (according to Slappy, this is because he "ate too much sugar"). However, when Bumbie's mother gets shot offscreen, like the original film, Skippy bursts into tears. The forest fire scene is also parodied, also scaring Skippy and making him cry harder. Slappy winds up pulling the sobbing Skippy out of the theater, and then they go to visit the actress (a female elderly deer), where Skippy learns that the deer playing Bumbie's mom was not really killed.
  • In Kingdom Hearts, a popular video game created by Squaresoft and Disney, Bambi makes an appearance as a Summon creature who runs around and drops items beneficial to the party.
  • Before Thumper's name was finalized, he was referred to as "Bobo" in some sketches.
  • In the James Bond movie Diamonds Are Forever two female villains are named Bambi and Thumper. (Ian Fleming's reference)
  • In the original novel, Faline had a twin brother named "Gobo". Along with Gobo, Ronno had a friend called "Karus". There was also a doe named "Marena" and an old doe called "Nettla" who takes care of Bambi after his mother dies.
  • Saturday Night Live's TV Funhouse segment, used Bambi as a means to lampoon Disney's usage of older properties for new direct-to-video sequels in the form of Bambi 2002 as well as Disney's standard of pulling off their movies from retail and putting them in the Disney vault. Of course, being TV Funhouse, the entire segment consists of rather absurd sequences involving a rapping Bambi, terrorists, Jared Fogle, and the New York Yankees to name a few.
  • Bambi is the second Disney animation feature to be set in present day (1942), Dumbo being the first.
  • During the scene where the animals collect on the island during the forest fire in the original Bambi, there is a raccoon seen grooming its young, as another one approaches with more young, the previous baby raccoon being licked disappears off screen, even though the grooming parent issues two licks even after it has disappeared. This was a registration error, later digitally corrected on the 2005 DVD release.
  • In 1969 a short film was produced called Bambi Meets Godzilla. The two minute movie (half of which was taken up by credits) consists of bambi eating in the woods before promptly being stepped on by Godzilla's foot.
  • Some hunting magazines have used this title character as a means of criticizing the environmentalists, especially PeTA and other "animal rights" groups, anti-hunting groups, calling them "Bambi Freaks", worse. They have implied that this film is "pro-animal rights", anti-hunting.
  • Bambi was Walt Disney's favorite of his movies.
  • There are asteroids named (15845) Bambi and (16626) Thumper.

Voice castEdit

Actor Role(s)
Bobby Stewart Baby Bambi
Donnie Dunagan Young Bambi
Hardie Albright Adolescent Bambi
John Sutherland Adult Bambi
Paula Winslowe Bambi's Mother and Pheasant
Peter Behn Young Thumper
Tim Davis Adolescent Thumper, Adolescent Flower
Sam Edwards Adult Thumper
Stan Alexander Young Flower
Sterling Holloway Adult Flower
Will Wright Friend Owl
Cammie King Young Faline
Ann Gillis Adult Faline
Fred Shields Great Prince of the Forest
Thelma Boardman Girl Bunny, Quail Mother and Frightened Pheasant
Mary Lansing Aunt Ena, Mrs. Possum, Pheasant
Margaret Lee Mrs. Rabbit
Otis Harlan Mr. Mole
Marion Darlington Bird calls
Clarence Nash Bullfrog

Supervising AnimatorsEdit

See alsoEdit


  • Barrier, Michael, Graham Webb, and Hames Ware. "The Moving Drawing Speaks." Funnyworld #18, Summer 1978. pp. 21.
  • Stewart, Doug (Jun/Jul 2002, vol. 40 no. 4) "Fires of Life". National Wildlife Federation
  • Webb, Graham (2001). The Animated Film Encyclopedia: A Complete Guide to American Shorts, Features, and Sequences, 1900-1979. McFarland and Co.. ISBN 0-7864-0728-X. 
  • "Fire Wars." Director Kirk Wolfinger. Performers: Matt Snider, Neil Sampson, Bruce Babbit. Nova. May 7, 2002

External linksEdit

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