Filmsite Movie Review
Bambi (1942)
Pages: (1) (2) (3)
Plot Synopsis (continued)

Bambi's Introduction to the World:

Only a little later, young Bambi (with white spots on his back) was soon playfully cavorting behind his mother as she walked through the forest, and he momentarily lost his footing on his uneasy long legs. A family of quail and upside-down hanging opossums greeted the "young prince," as did an almost-blind mole that emerged from its dirt tunnel. And then, when jumping along, Bambi stumbled on a tall, thick blade of grass and slipped onto the ground. In front of his own family, Thumper watched Bambi tumble and asked: "Did the young prince fall down?...He doesn't walk very good, does he?" Thumper's mother again reprimanded her outspoken young son, who was forced to dutifully repeat his father's reproving moral lesson from earlier in the morning [a lesson subsequently dubbed Thumper's Rule or Principle]:

lf you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all.

Bambi's mother and the family of rabbits encouraged the young fawn to get up and try again, and hopped along in front of him, amidst giggles.

At the open end of a decayed, hollowed out log, Thumper demonstrated why he had received his name - from his habit of thumping his left hind foot: "l'm thumping. That's why they call me Thumper" - and his words echoed. After running along, Thumper encouraged Bambi to jump over another large log: "Come on. You can do it. Hop over it. Like this." Bambi backed up for a headstart, but still was unable to duplicate what the rabbits could easily do. He ended up sprawled on all fours over the giant log, and Thumper bluntly noted: "You didn't hop far enough." Still awkward on his legs, Bambi ended up on top of Thumper after another collapse.

Thumper's Word Lessons:

The group came upon several young, yellow-breasted blue-birds eating ripe purple berries, and Thumper gave Bambi his first vocabulary lesson: "Those are birds." After much prodding and reciprocal nose-twitching, Bambi finally let out - at the top of his lungs - the word: "BIRD!" - Thumper was so impressed by Bambi's talking that he ran off to tell Bambi's mother and his own mother about Bambi's first successful word: "He talked. He talked, Mama. The young prince said 'bird.'" And then, Bambi mistook a pretty yellow butterfly for a bird and chased after it. Thumper had to race after Bambi and correct him: "No, that's not a bird. That's a BUTTERFLY." A third teaching opportunity arose, when Bambi thought a bright yellow flower was also a butterfly. Thumper corrected him again: "No, that's a FLOWER."

In a small patch of ground where Bambi was smelling many pretty blossoms, he came nose-to-nose with a shy, young black and white-striped male skunk. When Bambi again mislabeled the skunk as a flower ("Flower!"), Thumper went into hysterical and uncontrollable laughter, and began rolling around on the ground. The young skunk reassured Bambi that his mistake was accidental: "That's all right. He can call me a flower if he wants to. Ha, ha. l don't mind." The skunk blushed (a surprisingly feminine reaction!) after hearing the flattering and pleasing name of Flower - accidentally given to him by Bambi as a nickname.

April Showers:

Because a late-day April shower-rainstorm with thunder and lightning was gaining strength, it was time to return home. Thumper scurried off as Bambi was reunited with his mother in the thick brush, and he settled down for the night by cuddling next to her. However, he was astonished by raindrops of water striking the nearby plants as the storm intensified. In the "April Showers" sequence, musical notes accentuated the pitter-patter of water droplets hitting the leaves. A small brook developed and overflowed past him. All the creatures in the forest ran to shelter themselves, including a mother bird in a nest covering her young ones with her wing. A mouse sought cover under various mushroom 'umbrellas,' although ducks loved the water. Vicious and loud lightning strikes flashed in the sky (represented by cymbals clashing), causing Bambi fright as he burrowed in next to his mother. But soon, the storm passed and light from the sun peeked through the clouds. By the coming of dawn, the sky had turned a golden brown color as blue-birds shook off the water from their drenched wings. Bambi could finally rest peacefully and snuggle up next to his mother's side.

Bambi's First Visit to the Meadow:

A few weeks later, as Bambi eagerly followed his mother for his first visit to the meadow ("a very wonderful place"), he was speaking fluently. She explained he was now old enough to see the meadow, and confirmed for him that they weren't the only ones in the forest: "There are many deer in the forest besides us." She strongly cautioned him to be quiet and told him about the dangers of being in the open meadow without sufficient cover:

You must never rush out on the meadow. There might be danger. Out there, we're unprotected. The meadow is wide and open, and there are no trees or bushes to hide us. So we have to be very careful. Wait here. l'll go out first. And if the meadow is safe, l'll call you.

She called to Bambi from the thicket after warily determining that the meadow was safe for grazing, and the young fawn ran out to romp and catch up to his fast-moving mother. After cavorting around for awhile, Bambi came upon Thumper's family munching on a patch of clover. Thumper encouraged Bambi: "It's delicious. Why don't you try some? No, not that green stuff. Just eat the blossoms. That's the good stuff." Thumper's mother again scolded him for selectively eating only the blossoms:

Mother: What did your father tell you?...About eating the blossoms and leaving the greens?
Thumper: Eating greens is a special treat. lt makes long ears and great big feet. (speaking in an aside to Bambi) But it sure is awful stuff to eat. l made that last part up myself.

Bashful Bambi's Introduction to Faline and the Great Prince of the Forest:

And then Bambi nearly stepped on a frog that jumped and croaked: "Watch out!" The frog jumped into a nearby pool of water, where Bambi became entranced by his reflection on the water's surface. Suddenly, a second fawn reflection appeared to his left - he was startled by the sight of another fawn like himself - a female (with blue eyes and prominent eyelashes, and a slightly lighter shade of fur). Backing up and slightly fearful, Bambi was overcome with shyness and retreated to his mother for protection, and hid under her. She introduced him to the newcomer: "That's little Faline." The spritely young female noted Bambi's bashfulness, and was encouraged to greet him. She ran up to the cowering Bambi and forcefully said: "Well, hello, Bambi! (pause) I said hello." Bambi's mother encouraged him to answer her (he shook his head "no"), and then she asked if he was fearful: "You're not afraid, are you? (after Bambi again shook his head "no," she nudged him forward) Well, then, go ahead. Go on, say hello." The lively Faline responded with a sudden fit of giggles and hyperactive jumps - and soon the two were playing tag together as they chased each other around the meadow.

Nearby next to the surrounding forest, a herd of older deer bucks appeared, rutting with each other and jumping from one peak to another. As Bambi watched the young males with intense curiosity, excitement and amazement, he tried to imitate their distinctive bounding movements, while Faline ducked away in fear. But then Bambi found himself directly in their path and quickly retreated into a hollow log to avoid being trampled. He watched as the large herd suddenly froze in place - all glancing over at the noble and proud Great Prince standing silently in a clearing at the edge of the forest and meadow. The young fawn observed the stoic, mysterious and proud animal as it strutted forward, took a brief look at his new-born son, and then continued on. Bambi was unaware that he had been introduced to his father. After the encounter, Bambi was awed and curious about the Great Prince's appearance, and inquired of his mother:

Bambi: He stopped and looked at me....Why was everyone still when he came on the meadow?
Mother: Everyone respects him. For of all the deer in the forest, not one has lived half so long. He's very brave and very wise. That's why he's known as the Great Prince of the Forest.

[Note: It's entirely possible that both Faline and Bambi were sired by the Great Prince since he was dominant over the entire herd - and therefore the two youngsters were presumably half-siblings or cousins.]

Danger in the Meadow:

The statuesque Great Prince posed as he majestically strolled uphill into the forest. Suddenly, his ears twitched as he listened to an alarmed flock of noisy crows flying overhead. Sensing danger, he rushed back to the meadow to sound a warning to the herd of approaching deadly danger. The entire group of deer retreated in fear for their lives and scurried from the meadow to the protective shield of the forest. During the mad scramble of flight, although Faline was able to safely escape and unite with her family, Bambi became confused and lost in the commotion and chaos - he was left out in the open meadow by himself, calling out for his mother: "Mother!? Mother!?"

The Great Prince came up to Bambi and escorted him toward his mother as the three fled from the meadow into the forest - they were silhouetted against a yellowish-white background symbolizing their internal fear. A few loud gunshots echoed through the meadow. Later in the security of their forest den, Bambi's mother assured him: "Come on out, Bambi. Come on. lt's safe now. We don't have to hide any longer." Mystified by the experience, Bambi asked: "What happened, Mother? Why did we all run?" and received the ominous explanation:

Man was in the forest.

Winter in the Forest:

As the seasons passed, transitioning out of autumn (with swirling golden-brown leaves that eventually left the trees bare), Bambi had his first discovery of snow ("white stuff") and the arrival of a frigid winter. After a snowfall, the white stuff blanketed the forest trees and underbrush, to Bambi's amazement. He noticed how his hoofs left tracks, how there were deep spots, and how clumps of snow would noisily fall from trees overhead. He met up with Thumper who bragged about sliding on the frozen ice covering a pond ("Watch what I can do!"). After a head-start, Thumper jumped onto the ice and slid on his white tail while grabbing his toes. He encouraged Bambi to join him and coaxed: "Come on. lt's all right. Look. The water's stiff. Some fun, huh, Bambi?" - but the clumsy Bambi wasn't as graceful when urged to join him, and ended up with all four legs splayed outward. Although Thumper attempted to straighten Bambi's coltish legs and upright him, he realized that Bambi was completely unsteady and uncoordinated, similar to when Bambi first started walking: "Kinda wobbly, aren't ya? Gotta watch both ends at the same time. Guess you better unwind it." He helped to untangle Bambi's crossed back legs, before both of them plowed head-first into a snowbank.

In a nearby shelter, Thumper found Flower attempting to hibernate - or at least sleep. With a flurry of 'thumps,' Thumper woke up Flower who sleepily asked and then explained about hibernation: "Is it spring yet?...All us flowers sleep in the winter. Well, good night." [Note: Skunks don’t actually hibernate in winter, although they do slow down and sleep more often.]

Bambi realized how the harsh winter weather could last a long time, as he and his mother diligently foraged for food on the snowy landscape, and desperately ripped bark off trees:

Bambi: Winter sure is long, isn't it?
Mother: lt seems long. But it won't last forever.
Bambi: l'm awful hungry, Mother.

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