Bambi is a 1942 American animated film produced by Walt Disney and based on the book Bambi, A Life in the Woods by Austrian author Felix Salten. The fifth film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film was released by RKO Radio Pictures on August 13, 1942, during World War II.
The movie tracks a deer's life. The deer, Bambi, is born, and he grows like a normal deer; he grows, he falls in love and he flees from the great hunter, Man.
A miracle in the woods
The movie begins with a long camera zoom through the forest at dawn and all the creatures beginning to wake up, or back to sleep due to some being nocturnal. Suddenly, a blue bird spreads the news about something. Thumper (a young rabbit) wakes up an old owl named “Friend Owl”, who asks what is happened. Thumper and his sisters tell him that a new prince is born. Wanting to see the newborn fawn, Friend Owl flies off to the area where the young prince was born, along with many other animals. Upon reaching the area, the animals come across the mother and her two-hour old fawn lying by her side. The animals congratulate her. She then urges her new fawn to wake up and see everybody. He wakes up and takes a good, long look at all the animals surrounding him. At first, he is frightened of Friend Owl, who gives a friendly hoot, but then builds some courage and manages to make a shy smile. He then tries to get up. Due to him being very young, he can hardly keep his balance. Thumper comments that he is sort of unstable. The young prince then falls backwards back into his resting spot, causing some laughter and delight among the creatures. The fawn then lies back into his resting area and gives a big yawn. Friend Owl says to the creatures that it maybe time for them to leave. They all leave, except for Thumper, who asks the fawn’s mother what his name will be. She replies that she is thinking of naming him “Bambi.” Thumper, liking the name, says good bye to her and runs off to join his family. Happy with the name, Bambi’s mother snuggles up with her new born, sleeping fawn. The camera then pulls up from the small bush to reveal Bambi’s father, The Great Prince of the Forest, looking down at them from a nearby cliff ledge.
Exploring the forest
Three days later, Bambi and his mother are taking a walk through the forest. Bambi falls behind a little bit, getting distracted by some greeting animal neighbors. When trying to catch up to his mother, he gets stuck on a tall, thick blade of grass and slips. Upon seeing his fall, Thumper and his family run over to the young prince, asking his mother if he is alright. She replies that he is doing fine. Thumper then replies, saying that Bambi still can not walk very well. His reply makes his mother remind him of what his father told him that morning about “rude talk”. Bambi then gets back up onto his feet, and is able to continue walking, with Thumper and his sisters journeying along side of him. They then begin to explore the forest, first encountering a fallen log in which Thumper teaches him how to jump (though it did not turn out the way he was planning). They then come across some birds eating some berries. Thumper then teaches Bambi how to say bird, who does not get it right the first time, but with a little encouragement from Thumper, his sisters, and the birds orbiting around his head he is able to say it, shouting out on the top of his lungs “Bird!” Happy with his success, Thumper and his sisters run off to tell Bambi’s mother and their mother what the young prince’s first word was, while Bambi runs off chasing a butterfly (thinking it to be a bird). Thumper then tells him that it is not a bird, but a butterfly. The butterfly then flies off, leaving Bambi into thinking that the huge yellow flower in front of him is the butterfly he saw. Thumper then tells him that it is a flower and that they smell great. Bambi tries smelling the flowers of the small field, but comes face to face with young skunk. Bambi calls the young skunk a flower, which leaves Thumper rolling over his backside with laughter, saying that the skunk is not a flower. The skunk then says that it is alright if they can call him flower, which makes Bambi happy and “Flower” bashful.
The day grows late and it is time for Thumper to return home, leaving Bambi back with his mother. Off in the distance, a rainstorm is gathering and coming closer. Scared of the clashing of the lightning, Bambi snuggles next to his mother’s side. He is then wakened by the noise of some nearby raindrops, which then forms a small brook flowing right past his resting area. Soon, the whole forest is alive with raindrops dropping about. The creatures living in the forest run for shelter from the falling water. Suddenly, the violent part of the storm comes when lightning explodes about in bright flash of light and produces tons of loud noises, leaving Bambi frightened. Soon, the storm departs and the sunset off in the distance slowly goes down. Bambi, now asleep next to his mother’s side, snuggles up with his mother as the last drops of the storm fall into the nearby overflowing brook.
The next scene opens up a few weeks later, when Bambi is now capable of speaking. His mother is going to take him to the meadow. Bambi, who has never been to the meadow, asks his mother what a meadow is. He then continues to talk to her, until they reach the edge of the big meadow. Bambi is eager to go, but his mother stops and tells him that the meadow is also a dangerous place. She then tells him to stay behind in the thicket while she looks around to see if the place is safe. After a long while, the wide field appears to be safe. Bambi then runs out and tries to catch up with his mother, who runs off in a fast pace, playing with him. After a while, Bambi encounters Thumper and his family again, eating clovers. Bambi wants to eat some of the clovers as well, which makes Thumper tell him that the blossoms are the only parts to eat, which are really not. His mother then reminds him what his father told him that morning. He then recites the small limerick about eating the green parts of clovers, including a new line that he made up. Bambi then walks off and almost steps on a frog. He follows the frog over to a small pool of water, which the frog jumps in. Bambi, however, is left out on the shore, staring at his never before seen reflection. It startles him at first, but then gets used to it. Suddenly, another reflection appears on the water on his side. He then looks up at the unknown source which turns out to be another fawn, a female fawn. Feeling frightened of the young fawn’s presence, Bambi runs back up to his mother for protection. His mother happens to be talking to the other fawn’s mother, whose name is Ena, and is also Bambi’s aunt. The young female fawn’s name turns out to be Faline. Bambi’s mother encourages Bambi to say hello to Faline. Bambi replies no while Faline laughs at his shyness. Bambi’s mother then asks if he is afraid, to which he replies no again. Having no choice, he greets her. With that said, Faline suddenly breaks out in giggles and acting hyperactive. Bambi, however, backs off in fear and falls into a small puddle. While sitting there in the water, Bambi gets pestered by Faline with numerous licks on the cheeks. Finally, after one more lick and giggle Bambi jumps out and charges at Faline with anger. Faline runs off in fear at first, but, gradually, both of them start a small game of tag.
Suddenly, from out of the surrounding forest, a huge herd of bucks appear from out of nowhere. Faline runs away in fear while Bambi remains, filled with excitement while watching the bucks bound across the field. He even tries running alongside of them, but ends up almost getting trampled. Suddenly, they all stop. Wondering why, Bambi walks over. The reason appears in front of him. It is no other than the Great Prince, Bambi’s father (though Bambi does not know it yet). After a brief look at his son, the Great Prince walks off, leaving Bambi behind. Bambi then asks his mother why everyone stood still when the mysterious stag walked by and who he was. His mother tells him that he is respected by all and that he is very old and very wise. Thus explaining the reason why he is called “The Great Prince of the Forest."
The next part follows the Great Prince during his walk through the forest. Suddenly, the silence of the forest is broken when a flock of crows fly past, yelling and spreading out an alarm of a certain danger. The Great Prince then senses the danger and runs back towards the meadow. Once there he warns the herd. Sensing the danger as well, the herd and all the other creatures begin to retreat from the meadow towards the forest. Soon, the whole meadow is full of retreating frightened animals, running for protection. Faline and Thumper unite with their mothers and manage to escape, but Bambi gets left behind, searching for his mother. His mother is also looking for him as well. Suddenly, the meadow is completely empty. Though everything is still, something dangerous and deadly is still approaching. Sensing the danger, but to still frightened, Bambi is left out in the open, still searching for his mother. Suddenly, the Great Prince appears from behind him and escorts him and his mother to safety of the forest. Off in the distance (offscreen), something spots them and tries getting them, but ends up missing just when they reach safety in the forest. A few minutes later, the danger is gone and the forest returns to normal. Bambi’s mother exits the entrance of their den and looks around. Seeing no danger, she tells Bambi that everything is alright. Bambi then asks his mother what happened and why they all ran. And what was the danger anyway? After a moment of silence, his mother replies “Man... was in the forest.”
Throughout the autumn, the herd went for a stroll while Bambi watches the leaves fall and land in the river. During a harsh winter, Bambi discovers snow. While Bambi looks around the snow, he sees Thumper sliding on the ice. He then teaches Bambi how to slide on ice. After that, they see Flower hibernating. One day at the end of winter, Bambi and his mother went to the meadow and discover a patch of new grass, heralding the arrival of spring. As they eat, his mother senses a hunter and orders Bambi to flee. As they run, the gun shots ring out. When Bambi arrives at their thicket, he discovers his mother is no longer with him, unaware that she has been killed by the hunters. He wanders off in the forest calling for her, but she does not answer. His father appears in front of him and tells Bambi "your mother can't be with you anymore," revealing to a heart-broken Bambi that his mother is dead, then leads him away.
In the spring, an adult Bambi is reunited with Thumper and Flower as the animals around them begin pairing up with mates. Though they resolve not to be "twitterpated" which Friend Owl taught them like the other animals in love, Thumper and Flower each leave with newly found mates. Bambi is disgusted, until he runs into Faline and they become a couple. As they happily dance and flirt through the woods, another buck, Ronno, appears who tries to force Faline to go with him. Though he initially struggles, Bambi's rage gives him the strength to defeat Ronno and push him off a cliff and into a river below.
That night, Bambi is awoken by the smell of smoke. His father explains that Man is returned to the forest and they must flee. Bambi goes back to search for Faline, but she is being chased by hunting dogs. Bambi finds her in time and fights off the dogs, allowing Faline to escape. With Faline safe, Bambi runs but is shot as he leaps over a ravine. The Great Prince finds him there and urges him back to his feet. Together, they escape the forest fire (which we presume kills Man) and go to a small island in a lake where the other animals, including Faline, have taken refuge.
At the end of the film, Thumper, Flower and all the other animals including Friend Owl went into the thicket for a big surprise. Faline gives birth to the twin fawns, Bambi stands watch on the large hill, and the Great Prince silently turns and walks away, while Prince Bambi looks on proudly watching on his newborn children, just as his father did to him at his own birth.
- Baby Bambi (Bobby Stewart)
- Young Bambi (Donnie Dunagan)
- Adolescent Bambi (Hardie Albright)
- Adult Bambi (John Sutherland)
- Bambi's Mother (Paula Winslowe)
- Young Thumper (Peter Behn)
- Adolescent Thumper and Adolescent Flower (Tim Davis)
- Adult Thumper (Sam Edwards)
- Young Flower (Stan Alexander)
- Adult Flower (Sterling Holloway)
- Friend Owl (Will Wright)
- Adolescent Faline (Cammie King)
- Adult Faline (Ann Gillis)
- The Great Prince of the Forest (Fred Shields)
- Girl Bunny, Quail Mother and Frightened Pheasant (Thelma Boardman)
- Aunt Ena, Mrs. Possum, Pheasant (Mary Lansing)
- Mrs. Rabbit (Margaret Lee)
- Mr. Mole (Otis Harlan)
- Bird calls (Marion Darlington)
- Bullfrog (Clarence Nash)
- Tree Squirrel (Stuart Erwin)