Cast * Interesting Facts * Production Details

Directed by: David Hand
Written by: Felix Salten
Music by: Frank Churchill & Edward H. Plumb

Released on: August 13, 1942
Running Time: 69 minutes

Box-Office: $103 million in the U.S., $268 million worldwide


Bambi... Hardie Albright
Flower (Adult)... Sterling Holloway
Thumper... Peter Behn


  Austrian author Felix Salten (1869-1945) wrote the story of Bambi in 1923. The idea came to him while on vacation in the Alps after being charmed by the wildlife there. He based the name, Bambi, on the Italian word "bambino", meaning baby. Bambi, ein Leben im Walde (Bambi, a Life in the Woods) was published in Vienna in 1926, and translated in English two years later.

  Maurice Day, an animator with Disney, brought Felix Salten's book to the attention of Walt Disney. When Walt decided to make the movie, he thanked Maurice Day by holding the world premiere in Maurice's home town, in the tiny Lincoln Theater of Damariscotta, Maine, USA.

   Disney acquired the film rights to the book in the late 30's. Felix Salten saw the film himself for the first time at the European premier in Zurich's Rex movie theater in 1942. The Disney Corporation earned a great deal of money through the film and through the sale of a wide variety of products related to Bambi, including the book in republished form with Disney illustrations. Salten, who died in 1945, earned very little in the arrangement. Salten's daughter Anna (Wyler), however, who inherited Salten's holdings and renewed the copyright in 1954, entered into more satisfactory arrangements with the Disney Corporation.

  Bambi was the first Disney movie that stared a full animal cast.  It was also the first Disney full-length animated feature to hold its world premiere outside the United States--it was first released in England.

  Animators faced a huge dilemna with Bambi, as they could not figure out for a long time how to inject life into real-looking animals, and make them interesting enough to carry a full-length feature.  Their problem was solved the day Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston heard the voice of a young boy who was being interviewed for the voice of Thumber the bunny -he gave them a totally new take on the picture, by inspiring them to think of the young animals as kids in the neighborhood.  Though the casting director thought that this young boy was horribly talentless, the main animators insisted that he be hired for the role of Thumper -which he was!

  Bambi was started before Pinocchio and Fantasia, but released after these two: by the time it reached the screen, the armed forces were already depleting the Studio's ranks.  For a while, the Studio would have to coast - capitalizing on its past achievements, working well within its capabilities, experimenting a little, and waiting for energies to be restored.

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

  Walt Disney brought in live fawns in order to study the movements and make the film more life like.

Four different actors provided the voice of the title character.

  Young Bambi's spots are always changing! In shapes and numbers. For example, Bambi starts off with about 7, he goes down to about 5 in the next scene, goes up to about 8, etc.  His girlfriend's eyes also change color throughout the film.

  Bambi is the non-musical animated movie with the fewest line of dialogue ever!

  When originally released in 1942, Bambi was recorded in monaural (even after the breakthrough of stereo sound, pioneered by Disney's own Fantasia two years earlier).

  In the United States there was some controversy surrounding the Disney version of the film at its first appearance. The story depicts human hunters in rather negative perspective. Thus the American Rifleman's Association made a public statement against the film's depiction of hunters and asked that the film be prefaced with a pro-hunting statement.

  The movie was Oscar-nominated for Best Song, Best Score and Best Sound.  It is also said to be Walt Disney's favorite.

  It was revealed in March 2002 that Disney considers producing a computer-generated sequel to Bambi! The Los Angeles Times confirmed a year later, in February 2003, that art director Carol Kieffer Police would be playing a significant role "in the upcoming Disney feature Bambi and the Great Prince, doing character and costume design as well as location and color styling."  However, Jim Hill revealed in May 2003 that Bambi 2 was on hold on hold for a year or two until enough advances could be made in computer animation so that it actually looked like the original animated films. "Disney Television Animation is still trying to decide whether or not it wants to go forward with [this] CG sequel."

  9-year-old Alexander Gould (Finding Nemo) revealed in a June 2003 interview that he would voice Bambi in the CG sequel.



Walt Disney began development of Bambi in 1936, and for the next six years, a select team labored to merge the reality of nature and the fantasy of animation.  Live animals were brought into the Disney Studio (Disney kept two live deer on hand for the animators to study), natural science lectures were given, nature photos adorned office walls, and hundreds of thousands of sketches, drawings, paintings, and tests were made.  There, in the infancy of the animation medium, Disney and his staff attempted to adapt and acknowledged literary masterpiece, while bringing a level of reality to a medium that had barely proven itself capable of telling stories over seven minutes long.

"How could we animate the scenes in the book?" recalled legendary Disney animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. "When we read Bambi and looked at him, filled with a wonderful ecstasy, and shaken by a mysterious tremor, we found nothing we could draw.  Inner feelings were beyond our abilities at the time -- far beyond; yet Walt seemed resolved to go ahead."

So, for a period of years, the Disney staff met this challenge. Bambi was distinguished by a magnitude of masterly production art -- from the inspirational
sketches and background paintings keyed by Tyrus Wong ("He shows you less of what you would see and more of what you feel looking at a forest," said animation authority Charles Solomon), to animation drawings that display some of the finest draftmanship in the history of the medium by Marc Davis, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Milt Kahl, and Eric Larson.  Bambi led to the execution of some of the most striking and beautiful art ever created by the Disney Studio.

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