Bambi

Talkie of the Week: Disney Series

USA 1942, 70 minutes, Technicolor, Walt Disney Pictures. Distributed by: RKO Radio Pictures, Based on the story “Bambi, A Life in the Woods” by Felix Salten

Plot summary: When Bambi is born, the little fawn is surrounded by novelty and affection. As he grows up, he finds friendship and love, faces danger and loss – experiences that prepare him to eventually follow into his father’s footsteps, The Great Prince of the Forest.

bambiReview: There are stories you fall in love with as a child that stay with you for a lifetime. Bambi is such a gem. Originally published in 1923, the book was written for an adult audience and made into an animated feature in 1942. Although not an instant hit with critics or American audiences alike, Walt Disney’s fifth feature production turned into a classic generations of children have grown up with. Equipped with a then unprecedented love for detail and a new realism in animation and narrative style, Bambi ultimately learned to stand the test of time. Re-released to theaters six times until it conquered nurseries and family rooms around the world on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray, Bambi’s story is now an essential part of many vintage  movie collections.

Introducing us to the lives of fawn Bambi, hare Thumper and skunk Flower, Disney’s adaptation stayed true to the essentials of Felix Salten’s popular book. Criticized for depicting the grim realities of forest animals in our modern times, the film addressed human negligence and hunting as two issues Bambi and his friends have to cope with in their young lives. Although a lot less colorful in its description of the loss Bambi has to face, the film hit a nerve at the time of its release and still does today. Memorable and haunting, Bambi does what fairytales used to do: it wraps a tough lesson in a charming tale that remains relevant beyond your childhood days. Like many of its live action peers from Hollywood’s Golden Age, the film had a message without being preachy. Paired with masterful character animations and an Academy-Awards-nominated score, Bambi still resonates today and looks as beautiful as ever, 71-years after its original release.

Watch the original trailer here.

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Cinderella

Talkie of the Week: Disney Series

USA 1950, 74 minutes, technicolor, Walt Disney Productions, Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures. Based on Cendrillon by Charles Perrault.

Plot summary: When Cinderella is denied attending the royal ball by her evil stepmother, her fairy godmother comes to her rescue with some Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo and turns the evening into an enchanting adventure that changes the young maid’s life.

Cinderella posterReview: In early 1950, Cinderella graced the silver screen as Disney’s first full-bodied, animated feature since Bambi in 1942. She was also Disney’s second princess. Beautiful, hands-on and wholesome, she didn’t only enchant Prince Charming but also a worldwide audience. Based on live action models Helene Stanley and Ilene Woods (who also gave Cinderella her voice), she was an ideal woman of the late 1940s: perky, feminine and full of grace.

Degraded to a maid in her late father’s home, Cinderella grew up to be resilient, hard-working and prettier than her evil step-sisters Anastasia and Drizella. Supported by her animal friends, she endures every chore and remark Lady Tremaine, her stepmother, has up her sleeve. Good-natured as she is, the young girl doesn’t believe her stepmother to be truly evil. At least not until she ruins her chances of going to the royal dance with her clumsy sisters. Heart-broken, Cinderella cries bitter tears about her shattered dream, tears only her Fairy Godmother knows how to dry. Pleasantly plumb and adorably scatterbrained, the elderly lady revives her goddaughter’s heartfelt wish with a sense of humor and some good old-fashioned magic. With a little help from her furry friends and an abandoned pumpkin, Cinderella turns into a lovely princess who wins the heart of the prince as soon as she arrives at his ball. Falling in love with him at first sight as well, Cinderella almost forgets her dress and coach are only an illusion for one night. And so, at midnight, she rushes away before the spell breaks and leaves her barefoot and plain before the man who has bewitched her with his smile. In her haste, she loses one of her shoes and barely makes it home before her stepmother and sisters arrive. The conclusion of the story is too well-known to be retold in just a few words. It’s the kind of end that made my heart grow bigger as a child, a perfect close for a Hollywood tale so beautifully animated and designed, it has captured the love and dreams of many girls for generations.

Although I am generally fond of Disney classics and almost exclusively prefer them to the studio’s contemporary animated features, Cinderella is my favorite. I love the music, the humor and the overall style. Cinderella, like Snow White, is my kind of princess and I’d adopt her Fairy Godmother in a heartbeat. Moreover, Cinderella has the most precious pets and although Prince Charming may not have enough screen time to make a lasting impression, for anyone who’s ever been in love, the duet he sings with Cinderella says it all. So this is Love is one of my favorite songs, a melody I can’t get out of my head for days once I’ve seen the movie again. As I’m typing this, I’m humming it again and it mends my heart. Mmmmmm. Mmmmmm. So this is love. For all of you who want to sing along, the film is available on DVD and Blu-ray. The perfect romantic film to herald spring, at least in my starry-eyed opinion.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Talkie of the Week: Disney Series

USA 1937, 83 minutes, technicolor, A Walt Disney FEATURE Production, Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures. Based on the Brothers Grimm fairytale of the same name.

Plot summary: When Snow White’s beauty outshines her stepmother’s, she is supposed to perish at the hands of the queen’s hunter. But instead of doing away with her, he allows her to escape to the woods where she soon finds shelter with the Seven Dwarfs.

Snow WhiteReview: There are few animated characters who have a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Snow White does. She was Disney’s first princess and seventy-six years after her debut, she’s still every bit as sweet, innocent and charming as she always has been. Created by Hamilton Luske and vocally brought to life by Adriana Caselotti, she remains a Disney favorite. A princess whose beauty is more than captivating; it comes from the heart.

Based on a fairytale by the German Brothers Grimm, Walt Disney’s Snow White may have disgruntled her stepmother, the queen. Her charm, however, bewitches everyone else she meets. Designed as a perfect 1930s belle, her skin is fair, her hair is dark and her eyes are sparkling with kindness. When she is sent to the woods in the company of the queen’s hunter, she is jolly and trusting. In her wildest dreams the young girl does not suspect her stepmother’s evil plan to dispose of her. But when the hunter fails to execute his orders, her heart breaks. Scared for her life she runs deeper into the woods, losing her sense of direction but never her heart. She finds a new home with the Seven Dwarfs and spoils them with motherly love and affection. Despite her simple life and seclusion in the forest, the queen still envies Snow White for her beauty and takes it into her own hands to put her stepdaughter to everlasting sleep.

For everyone who still remembers growing up with bedtime stories and family film Saturday nights, the end of this classic is still as fresh and vivid in memory as it ever was. And that’s the true beauty of Walt Disney’s first animated feature film. Like the hearts of his audience, Snow White never grows old. She may have changed voices over the years and seems a whole lot quieter than her quirky sister princesses from the 1990s through 2000s. But in general, she’s every bit as appealing as she was when she first bewitched moviegoers, critics and filmmakers alike. Her grace has outlasted even the loudest Hollywood image and she’s still a popular star in Disneyland, as well as on Blu-ray and DVD. How many other beauties can say that of themselves?

Watch the original trailer here.