Friday, August 19, 2011

It's Film Strip Friday!! BAMBI

It’s Film Strip Friday!


Release Date August, 13th, 1942



He's the "Young Prince of the Forest," but wobbly newborn fawn Bambi can barely stand on his own legs. Over the course of a year, under the guidance of his mother and with some help from pals Thumper and Flower, he grows into a noble and courageous stag ? but along the way he is tested by fire, fear, and loss. It takes strength and bravery to survive and to take his place alongside his father, the Great Prince of the Forest.


Bambi is a 1942 American animation film produced by Walt Disney and based on the book Bambi, A Life in the Woods by Austrian author Felix Salten. The film was released by RKO Radio Picture on August 13, 1942, and it is the fifth film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series.

Austrian writer Felix Salten (real name Siegmund Salzmann) - an insurance clerk who began to write out of boredom - got the inspiration for his novel during a trip to Italy when he became fascinated with the Italian word "bambino".

Sidney Franklin, a producer and director at MGM films, purchased the film rights to Felix Salten’s novel Bambi, A Life in the Woods in 1933, intending to adapt it into a live action film. Deciding it would be too difficult to make such a film, he sold the film rights to Walt Disney in April 1937. Disney began working on crafting an animated adaptation immediately, intending it to be the company's second feature length animated film and their first to be based on a specific, recent work. However, the original novel, written for an adult audience, was considered too "grim" and "somber" for a regular light hearted Disney film. The artists also discovered that it would challenging to animate deer realistically, and at the same time, keep the characters slightly exaggerated and "cartoony". Due to this Disney put production on hold while it worked on several other works. In 1938, Disney assigned Perce Pearce and Carl Fallberg to work on the film's storyboards, but attention was soon drawn away as the studio began working on Fantasia (1940). Finally, on August 17, 1939, production on Bambi began in earnest, though progressed slowly due to changes in the studio personnel, location, and methodology of handling animation at the time. The writing was completed in July 1940, by which time the film's budget had swelled to $858,000.

Walt Disney attempted to achieve realistic detail in this animated film. He had Rico LeBrun, a painter of animals, come and lecture to the animators on the structure and movement of animals. Animators also visited the Los Angeles Zoo. A pair of fawns (named Bambi and Faline) were shipped from the area of present day Baxter State Park in Maine to the studio so that the artists could see first-hand the movement of these animals. The source of these fawns, from the Eastern United States, was the impetus for the transformation of Felix Salten's roe dea to white-tailed deer. A small zoo was also established at the studio so animators could study other animals, like rabbits, ducks, owls, and skunks at close range.

The background of the film was inspired by the Eastern woodlands; one of the earliest and best known artists for the Disney studio, Maurice "Jake" Day spent several weeks in the Vermont and Maine forests, sketching and photographing deer, fawns, and the surrounding wilderness areas. The usage of the multi-plane camera also added to the realism of the backgrounds.

Although there were no humans in the film, live action footage of humans were used for one scene: actress Jane Randolph and Ice Capades star Donna Atwood acted as live-action references for the scene where Bambi and Thumper are on the icy pond.

 The realism that Disney was pushing caused delays in production; animators were unaccustomed to drawing natural animals, and expert animators could only manage around eight drawings a day. This amounted to only half a foot of film a day, unlike the normal rate of production of ten feet. This equaled less than a second of film versus over thirteen seconds. Disney was later forced to slash 12 minutes from the film before final animation, to save costs on production due to losses suffered in Europe as World War II loomed.

Although the release of Bambi was an initial financial loss for the studio the animators learned a lot during its production that they'd utilize in future projects. Animators now had a broader spectrum of animation styles, from the wider stylization of Mickey Mouse to the naturalistic look of characters like the stag version of Bambi. They also learned more techniques with the multiplane camera, expanding their knowledge of its usage. Additionally the paint laboratory had developed hundreds of new colors for the production that were used in future films.

Pre-production began in 1936 and was intended to be Disney's second full-length animated film after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Disney's perfection and quest for realism delayed the project significantly, so that Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940), The Reluctant Dragon (1941) and Dumbo (1941) were released earlier than Bambi.

Sidney Franklin originally initiated "Bambi" as a film project in 1933, envisioning it as a live action film. He had even gone to the stage of recording Margaret Sullivan and Victor Jory's voices for the soundtrack. Eventually he realized that the technology simply wasn't adequate enough to make the film. After seeing "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937), it dawned on Franklin that there was someone who could realize "Bambi" as a movie. So he contacted Walt Disney who immediately leapt at the idea of working on the project. Disney started work on the film in 1936, though he was also developing "Fantasia", "Dumbo" and "Pinocchio" at the same time. All this explains why there is a dedication in the film's opening credits "To Sidney A. Franklin - our sincere appreciation for the inspiring collaboration".

A test animation of baby Bambi stuck on a fallen tree-trunk was sufficiently charming to convince Walt Disney to make the film.

The look of the film was inspired by the work of Tyrus Wong, a Chinese animator whose sketches used softened backgrounds. This meant that the focus was squarely on the beautifully drawn animals.

The fifth animated Disney feature.

Bambi and Thumper are the names of two female assassins that James Bond encounters in "Diamonds are Forever" (1971).

After "Dumbo" (1940), this is the second Disney animated feature to be set in the present day.

Two asteroids have been named after Bambi and Thumper.

For the film's DVD release in 2005, over 110,000 frames were cleaned up individually, requiring more than 9,600 hours of work. This was done from a copy of the original nitrate negative borrowed from the Library of Congress.

Unusually for the time, Disney insisted on children providing the voices for the animals when they were young, instead of using adults mimicking youngsters.

The Disney studios were walking a very precarious line financially, and were constantly on the verge of bankruptcy. A studio strike and, of course, the outbreak of war - which deprived them of their lucrative European market - didn't help matters. Disney was able to secure another loan from the Bank of America, but when both "Fantasia" and "Dumbo" failed at the box office, a lot was riding on "Bambi" to be a success.

"Bambi" premiered August 8, 1942 in London - a very daring move in the midst of war - and a few days later in New York. Despite glowing reviews, it was an initial box office disappointment. This prompted Disney to re-release "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in the summer of 1944, a tactic that the studio regularly adopts now for all their animated features.

There are approximately only 1,000 words of dialog throughout the entire film.

One of the many rejected ideas was to show the hunter killed by the very forest fire that he had accidentally started.

Disney animators spent a year studying and drawing deer and fawns to perfect the look of Bambi and his parents and friends. Deer are notoriously difficult to render in human terms as their eyes are on either side of their face, their mouth does not lend itself to speech and they have no real chin. Ultimately animator Mark Davis resolved these difficulties by infusing the character of Bambi with the traits of a human baby.

No matter how skilled the animator, the Disney cartoonists simply could not draw Bambi's father's antlers accurately. This was because of the very complicated perspectives required. To get round the problem, a plaster cast was made of some real antlers which was then filmed at all angles. This footage was then rotoscoped onto animation cels.

The character of Thumper does not appear in Felix Salten's original novel. He was added by Walt Disney to bring some much-needed comic relief to the script.

This was Walt Disney's favorite film.

Before Thumper's name was finalized, he was referred to as "Bobo" in some sketches.

Some scenes of woodland creatures and the forest fire are unused footage from Pinocchio (1940).

The movie was set for a world premiere at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on 30 July 1942, but was delayed due to the extended run of Mrs. Miniver (1942).

The world premiere of this film was scheduled to be in the tiny Lincoln Theater in Damariscotta, Maine, USA. Maurice Day, an animator with Disney, brought Felix Salten's book to the attention of Walt Disney, and when Walt decided to make the movie he thanked Maurice by planning to hold the premiere in Maurice's home town. However, the State of Maine objected, fearing that hunters would be offended by the film, and the actual world premiere was elsewhere.

The movie lost money at the box office for the first run, but began to recoup its considerable cost (over $2,000,000) during the 1947 re-release.

The Maine Development Commission sent two fawns, appropriately named Bambi and Faline, to the Disney studio, to be kept as pets while artists studied their movements and behavior. When they were fully grown, they were released in nearby Griffith Park. Other animals, such as skunks and squirrels, were kept in the Disney zoo for similar purposes.

The film was dubbed into Russian with new lyrics, narration and dialogue prepared by Russian-born Leonid Kinsky. It was also dubbed into many other languages, including Arapaho, to help encourage "Arapaho children to learn and preserve their language."

The hunter who shoots Bambi's mother was originally going to be included as a character in the movie. But, for a man to shoot the mother of the hero, he would have to be clearly cruel and villainous for children to accept him. Since Disney didn't want to be seen as maligning hunters as evil, the character was cut and never shown in the final version of the film.

To design Bambi's scenes, Walt Disney traveled to Argentina in 1941, and there he was inspired in the forests of Neuqu?s province, southwest of Argentina.

Bambi was originally supposed to go back to his mother after she was shot and find her in a pool of blood. This idea was scrapped.

Donnie Dunagan, who was the voice for young Bambi, also was the model for Bambi's facial expressions.

In the original script Bambi was shot instead of his mother, but Walt Disney dismissed the idea and moved the shooting to Bambi's mother.

The first and one of the few Disney features where the songs were not sung by any of the film's characters. Each song was either sung off screen by a soloist or a choir.
Six-year-old Peter Behn auditioned with several other children for the voice roles of Mother Rabbit's children. When Behn said the line (in reference to Bambi), "Did the young prince fall down?", a casting director who was watching the audition in another room shouted, "Get that kid out of here! He can't act!" However, the Disney animators who heard the audition tape loved the sound of Behn's voice. Behn was called back to the studio, and the character of Thumper was created largely based on his vocal performance.

Animation from this film has been reused more often than animation from any other Disney film. Usually it is used as incidental animation of birds, leaves and the like. Only a few of the major characters have been reused. Bambi's mother, for example, appears in the very first shot of Beauty and the Beast (1991), and is the quarry of both Kay in The Sword in the Stone (1963) and Shere Khan in The Jungle Book (1967). Bambi and his mother fully appear then in The Rescuers (1977).

The opening multiplane shot is one of Disney's biggest use of the multiplane. It had been used on scenes in The Old Mill, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Dumbo.

CASTLE THUNDER: Heard a few times when the storm in the "April Shower" sequence is about to start. It's also heard when the storm clouds are beginning to part and the sun begins coming out.

In the original American version of the film, the music for the opening song starts at the film's opening. However, in all the foreign versions, it oddly plays over the Walt Disney Pictures logo and the singing wrongly begins when the word "Bambi" shows up, whereas in the American versions, the singing begins at the "Walt Disney presents" screen.

"Man" was ranked the #20 villain on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 greatest heroes and villains - the only character on the list not to appear on-screen.

[June 2008] Ranked #3 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Animation".


Bambi lost money at the box office for its first release, but recouped its considerable cost during the 1947 re-release.] Although the film received good reviews, the timing of the release, during World War II, hurt the film's box office numbers. The film did not do so well at the box office in the U.S., and the studio no longer had access to many European markets that provided a large portion of its profits. Roy Disney sent a telegram to his brother Walt after the New York opening of the film that read: "Fell short of our holdover figure by $4,000. Just came from Music Hall. Unable to make any deal to stay third week...Night business is our problem."

What also hurt box office numbers is the realistic animation of the animals, and the story of their fight against the evil humans in the story. Hunters spoke out against the movie, saying it was "an insult to American sportsmen". The criticism, however, was short-lived, and the financial shortfall of its first release was made up multiple times in the subsequent re-releases.

Today, the film is viewed as a classic. Critics Mick Martin and Marsha Porter call the film "...the crowning achievement of Walt Disney's animation studio". In June 2008, the American Film Institute revealed its “Ten top Ten” — the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres — after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Bambi was acknowledged as the third best film in the animation genre. It is also listed in the Top 25 Horror Movies of all Time by Time Magazine. Bambi, Time states, "has a primal shock that still haunts oldsters who saw it 40, 50, 65 years ago."


The off-screen villain "man" has been placed #20 on AFI’s List of Heroes and Villains.

Former Beatle Paul McCartney has credited the shooting death of Bambi's mother for his initial interest in animal rights, an example of what has been called the Bambi effect.

Soon after the film's release, Walt Disney allowed his characters to appear in fire prevention public service campaigns. However, Bambi was only loaned to the government for a year, so a new symbol was needed, leading to the creation of Smokey Bear.] Bambi and his mother also make a cameo appearance in the satirical 1955 Donald Duck short No Hunting: drinking from a forest stream, the deer are startled by a sudden trickle of beer cans and other debris, and Bambi's mother tells him, "Man is in the forest. Let's dig out."

In 2006, the Ad Council, in partnership with the United States Forest Service, started a series of Public Service Announcement ads that feature footage from Bambi and Bambi II for wildfire prevention. During the ads, as the Bambi footage is shown, the screen will momentarily fade into black with the text "Don't let our forests...become once upon a time", and usually (but not always) ending the ads with Bambi's line "Mother, what we gonna do today?" followed by Smokey Bear saying "Only you can prevent wildfires" as the Smokey logo is shown on the screen. The ads air on various television networks, and the Ad Council has also put them on Youtube.

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