Man I find it hard to keep on top of the second thoughts. I mean, I've got all the notes and stuff written up for them, it's just finding the time and then not spending it on another movie or on homework or anyway. Here now, with some thoughts. Which are second. About Bambi. I did a thing this time, and - well I'll talk about it after the break.
So on my list of all time favorite movies, this one will be in a completely different book. It's not a... I was going to say it's not a bad movie, but it doesn't really fit on the whole spectrum of good and bad movies at all. It's not much of anything, when you look at it objectively.
Right before I forget: I did a thing. I had Roomie track down the script of the movie, like the actual transcript. Then we cut out the song lyrics. Then I used a line counter to count the lines in the movie. Without the songs, there are 363 lines in the movie. Dumbo, which is I think we solved it at something like 6-8 minutes shorter, had about twice that. So this isn't a lot of talking.
Now for the really fun part: 14 of those are just greetings to Bambi from randoms. "Good morning, young prince" and that sort. We're down to 349. Seven more are "wake up." 342. Next I knocked out all the one-word lines, from "Bambi!" "Mother!" to "Thumper..." to "...BIRD!" and we're down to 290. Five more are "get up" and if I went hunting repeats... well, you see my point. Some of these have breaks in the middle, too, so they were actually individual lines of dialogue, which brings the number down even more. There's just not a lot of writing to this movie.
The animation is just fantastic; a couple of dull moments with backdrops, but I mean... I just watched Cinderella, and even though they accomplish incredible things in that movie, everything in this one was so clean and defined and stylized with a definite kind of generic Disney cuteness that's far more polished than even in Snow White. I said that Dumbo was cut from the same cloth as Pinocchio, and on an artistic level I can't throw that at this movie.
On a character level, of course, I can. If anything, Pinocchio is a more interesting character. If Jiminy Cricket was a sort of (horribly woefully inept) superego and Timothy Mouse was an id with purpose, Thumper is as close to Bambi's ego as anything. Bambi klutzes around, which is charming for a little bit until you realize he's not really going to go anywhere with it. He's alternately follower and dippy curious cat and yet there's never any sense of personality behind the simple child of him. Which may contribute to his appeal - he's a small child, in every way. On the other hand, it doesn't give him anything to do but follow answers, either in the form of a leader or in the form of looking for someone to take his questions.
The characters generally are extremely lacking. Faline's whole character is "she flirts with Bambi because she is the love interest." That's it. (Thank you Rachel for the name). The Great Prince is there to Look Impressive, Lead Bambi and that's it. Mother is there to die, we all saw it coming. Thumper is sort of our viewpoint character (until the adult section, which I'll lambast in a minute) and the most fleshed-out, which is sort of an issue considering his non-role later on. Flower has a grand total of twelve lines, encompassing maybe 20 words between them? He's completely irrelevant except as a third wheel. He's the Donny. Hey, maybe that's why I don't think much of this movie; it's child-friendly Dude, Walter and Donny going on even less of an adventure and having even more of life just come whack them in the face. I really hope I'm the first person to ever link Bambi and The Big Lebowski. I kind of hope I'm the last, too
Moving on. The most interesting character in the movie (besides the owl, who at least is a bit active and fun to watch) doesn't even appear on screen. I was reminded of Jaws (bet that's not a common link either!) in so far as the villain of the film is Ominous Music and Camera Angles. Man is a surprisingly effective threat for something never depicted, and although later on Man's power appears as helldogs and flame (and you do see the camp site), the most terrifying quality of Man is just how much there is no context for him. I think that could have been underlined even more had any natural predator put in an appearance, but oh well. Man is a well-done conceit.
The big emotional moment is obviously supposed to be the death of Bambi's mom, which might have made a dent on me if not for having just watched Dumbo, which just... personal context makes the scene in Dumbo a lot more harsh than anyone could have predicted. It's handled pretty well but honestly, the first time they go to the meadow, you know it's part of the movie. That's just how it breaks down.
The adult section is a flop. It's way too short and quick. "Look at that, it's Bambi." "Why yes I am!" "And I'm Thumper!" "And I'm Flower!" "Don't you boys go falling in love." "We won't!" "Except me." "And me." "Annnnd me hold on Cello Stag is here to throw Ominously Backlit Choreography at me. But I'm awesome so it's okay. Now I have a girlfriend!" MAN "Oh hey dad what's ah crap we're running away. Where's my girl?" "BAMBI!" "There's my girl. Collect 1 Girl. Done. Off we go. Now we can bang and have babies. Errbody come look at mah babies." That's the whole ending. Bambi doesn't even take over Epic Rack Daddy's job, he just stands next to him wondering when he too will have an Epic Rack. Which, normally, strange ambition for a male mammal but extenuating circumstances.
Finally, let's talk music. So far I've been picking out the noteworthy songs where possible. It is not possible this time. All of this music blows. All of it. Some of it twice. Don't tell me any of these songs became hits, because I promise you, none of them deserved to. It starts with this dull, dreary "Love Is A Song" bit that flunks Metaphor 101 by being so tedious we want to slap it in the face, and not any amount of "Little April Showers" or "Inappropriately Timed Spring Celebration Song" will fix that. Were there really only three songs in this movie? You know what, I don't care. They all sucked.
In short, this feels like the animators had a chance to go all-out on showing off new skills... and everybody else got the year off. I'm betting this movie is only famous for the death scene and everything else about it gets forgiven for that being a big childhood shock. Because there's no way that, looking at Bambi objectively, it could honestly be considered a great movie.