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Winsor McCay -- The Master Edition

A new DVD offers an opportunity to see films by a master of animation —Andrea Birgers (DVD review...)

Gertie the Dinosaur, born of Winsor McCay

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Bambi II is a straight-to-video sequel with cinematic ambitions. In fact, a theatrical press screening was held for this movie (I preferred to watch it on television in the comfort of my home). The quality of the animation is high enough that the movie probably looks good in a theater, and it certainly looks great on a television screen.

The story is pleasant and full of the right messages for children, but it treads a familiar path and quickly fades from memory.

The Deer Prince

Like many sequels, it never moves out of the shadow of its predecessor
Like many sequels, it never moves out of the shadow of its predecessor

Viewers of Disney’s 1942 classic may recall a gap in story: little Bambi, his mother having been killed by hunters, walks off into the snow with his father, the Great Prince of the Forest. Cut to springtime, Bambi has become an adolescent with antlers and a deeper voice. What, you may ask, happened in the interim? The answer, to a large extent, is more of the same.

If Bambi had been made in 2006, it would probably be a lot like this sequel. The young animals talk much more than they did in Bambi and their dialogue has a more modern feel. Bambi talks to his father about his feelings, something the 1940s Bambi would never do. Thankfully, the screenwriters left out pop culture references that have become pervasive in other Disney cartoons.

But Does It Look Good?

Though the character animation was hand-drawn, the backgrounds were “painted” with a computer program. The original movie used hand-painted backgrounds. A comparison of the two movies shows that the filmmakers of the sequel did an very good job of emulating the original, but they couldn’t quite capture the richness of color and painterly quality of the forest in Bambi.

The use of a newer technology doesn’t make Bambi II any less authentic, and the animators deserve credit for turning out a good-looking product. The story has no glaring flaws, but like many sequels, it never moves out of the shadow of its predecessor. While Bambi remains memorable for me 30 years after seeing it, Bambi II has faded away 10 days after watching it.

DVD Extras

The extras on this DVD are sparse and mostly geared toward kids. “The Legacy Continues,” gives an eight-minute look behind the scenes, without showing much about how the movie was made. Selecting “Bambi’s Trivia Tracks,” on the main menu plays the entire movie with pop up facts about forest animals as well as the movie and the original. In the games and activities section, longtime Disney animator Andreas Deja demonstrates how to draw Thumper. “Thumper’s Hurry and Scurry Game,” will appeal to only to the younger viewers.

Picture and Sound

Both picture and sound are excellent, which is to be expected for a brand-new movie. The DVD includes a French language track.