On March 1st, 2011 the Diamond Edition of Bambi is being released on DVD & Blu-ray to stores everywhere. I was excited to have the opportunity to attend a D23 screening of the film in Chicago to celebrate the release. The screening was followed by a question and answer session with the charming voice actor for young Bambi, Donnie Dunagan, and talented Disney animator, Andreas Deja.
The movie Bambi is a spectacular look at the environment from the perspective of the forest and the creatures that live within it. However, due to World War II, the original release of Bambi was lackluster. Only later, with its six additional theatrical releases did the genius of the movie secure its place as a Disney Classic. Bambi explores the seasons and cycles of life in an artful impressionistic vision of man vs. nature. The background animation plates are sophisticated oils and were ground breaking art for its time. Beautiful and haunting classical music plays its own part in helping the seasons change, punctuated with clever bounces like “Drip drip drop little April shower.” A mere 900 words of dialogue are cleverly woven in this exploration of life and death. Along with the young Prince Bambi we meet the cheeky little bunny, Thumper, and the ever so sweet skunk, Flower, as they go through the first year of young Bambi’s life. The messages in Bambi are more than most children will understand, and many of the kids in the theater with us became bored and agitated half way through the film. As an adult, I enjoyed the creative vision that Walt Disney presents in this classic film.
Donnie Dunagan was six and a half when he was cast as the voice of young Bambi for Walt Disney Pictures. Ready to end his acting career, the opportunity to work for Disney kept him in for one more project. The problem was that Donny, like so many children today, had never even seen a real deer. His mother took him to the zoo to see a deer, where he was generally unimpressed with the creature standing before him.
In today’s society, life is somewhat removed from the forest and the cycles of life, death and rebirth; parents may feel cause for concern with Bambi and some of it’s violent themes. However, Donnie Dunagan told us that even as a child in 1942, when he first saw the movie, he never realized that the unseen hunter had shot Bambi’s mother. Today Donnie enjoys sharing this experience of nature with modern children. He encourages those who don’t get the opportunity to interact with animals on a daily basis to read nature books, to study them like the animators do, and to make trips to the zoo in order to connect with wildlife.
After the screening we were presented with a strong anti-kill message from Donnie. Though having served 25 years in the US Marine Corps and having been on many hunting trips himself, it was important to him that we know he is an advocate of only shooting something with your camera. The sanctity of life is the important message that should be taken away from the movie. We must be careful with our natural resources and pay attention to the cycles of life. Man in the forest does not have to always lead towards the death and destruction seen in Bambi.
My husband and I had a lovely evening out with D23 and can’t wait to attend more events in the future. If you would like to have the opportunity to attend these very special member events, D23 membership might be for you.