That's Thumper the Rabbit talking
to Bambi's mother, in the beautiful opening sequence of Walt Disney's 1942 film,
when all the gentle animals of the forest come to see the new-born deer. In the
original 1926 novel by the Austrian writer, Felix Salten, that Disney based his
movie on, Salten named the deer Bambi because it held echoes for him of the Italian
word for baby, "Bambino." Salten had meant his story to be a kind of
allegory that spoke, on one level, to the plight of European Jews between the
world wars, and later Bambi was, in fact, outlawed by the Nazis, and Salten was
forced to flee for his life to Switzerland.
In many ways, Bambi, which had its premier fifty-nine years ago this month, was the film Disney was most proud of, technically and aesthetically. It required over a million drawings, and a complex photographic process -- involving fixed planes of forest scenery painted on pains of glass -- to give the animals' habitat its remarkable depth. Disney even built a small zoo on the studio grounds so that his artists could directly observe the movements of young and older deer. The movie is available at video stores, and when you watch it again, or for the first time with the children in your family, you'll see for yourself why it is so special -- beause, despite its dark and painful moments, it's brimming over with life and love and some of the most sublime art ever put on film.
Copyright © 2002, John Cech
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Monday, 28-Oct-2002 21:04:12 EST