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When last we saw Bambi and company, the young Prince had just won a hard-fought battle so he could claim Faline as his mate. Now that they’re together, it’s time for the obligatory Disney love song between the new couple.
I owe Disney a great apology regarding this song by the way. When I was younger, I was bored STIFF by this section because we’d just had this awesome fight and now we have this “mushy stuff” that seems to go on forever and ever before the story gets good again. But now that I’m much, much older, I can appreciate the animation and the song itself.
“Looking for Romance/I Bring You a Song” is ostensibly sung by Bambi and Faline as they run through the meadow at night together, and travel through other parts of the forest. In reality, the song is performed by Donald Novis and the Disney Chorus.
Watching this scene, it’s beautiful how the animators were able to realize moonlight so convincingly. It’s a gorgeous moment and the last real slow moment of the film because things are about to get very dangerous once again for Bambi and all his friends.
Now laying down in their mutual home together, Bambi is awoken by the sense that something is wrong and he goes off to investigate (without waking Faline). He climbs up to a high point and sees smoke off in the distance. “It is man” says the Great Prince, coming up out of nowhere as he usually does “He is here again, there are many of them this time.”
The Great Prince plans for them both to hide deep in the forest, but, as the former runs off, instead of following, Bambi thinks of Faline (still in their home) and runs off to get her. Unfortunately, by now the crows are sounding the alarm all over the forest and Faline awakens to find that Bambi is gone. She runs off to find him just before Bambi comes back and (for the moment) neither can find the other. The tension in the forest is almost visibly thick as all the animals hunker down in an attempt to hide. Musically, the three-note motif of man is ever-present. The tension becomes too much for a young quail, who, against the warnings of her friends, breaks cover and tries to fly for it, but she is easy prey and the melee begins, with guns firing everywhere!
All is chaos as animals run left and right, with Bambi and Faline caught up in it all. And then comes a rather terrifying sequence where Faline is chased by a pack of ravenous dogs (my apologies, I was unable to find a good clip of this moment) but just in time, Bambi comes to the rescue! With Faline safely out of harm’s way, Bambi leads the dogs away and successfully gets away as well, but just as we all breathe that huge sigh of relief…BANG!! Bambi’s been shot!! And just when you think it couldn’t get any worse…
Having left their camp with an unattended fire, the wind carries the sparks into the woods where a full-blown forest fire erupts, and now everyone is in danger! (The film leaves it unknown if the hunters make it out alive)
As if the images of flames weren’t scary enough, the music adds to the sense of danger. Forget Man: fire is now the enemy here, and it doesn’t discriminate between human or beast, it’ll take everyone if it can. And Bambi, badly wounded, is in a prime position to get roasted, when (out of nowhere once again) comes the Great Prince (also Bambi’s father). He forces Bambi to his feet and the two make a run for it through the burning woods, dodging falling trees and debris until they reach a huge waterfall. And it’s right here, at this moment, that the music briefly stops as the two look back and see a huge tree falling right towards them, forcing them to JUMP! But do they survive? We won’t find out for a few minutes, but we do see a shot of the whole area engulfed in flames.
All is not lost however, a large number of animals have made their way to what appears to be an island in the midst of a huge lake, and it is there that Faline waits to see if Bambi will come back to her. And, thankfully, he does. Both Bambi and the Great Prince come swimming out of the smoke and the two lovers are happily reunited.
The epilogue of the film flashes forward a year. The forest is still heavily damaged from the fire, but springtime has brought new life, and it is clear that everything will grow back, given time. Old Friend Owl is still alive, still trying to sleep in his tree, but he’s not going to get the chance to sleep ever again I think, because now adult Thumper is back and he’s got at least FOUR mini-Thumper’s with him!!
What’s all the commotion? Why, just as the movie began with the birth of a young prince, so it ends as well. The whole forest is off once again to witness this great sight. Only Faline has a surprise for everyone, she’s had TWINS!!
“Prince Bambi must be mighty proud” Friend Owl comments, and Faline knows that he is, as the camera pulls back to reveal that Bambi is now the Great Prince of the Forest, as his father bids farewell for the last time (we can’t hear their conversation, but based on their conversation in the source novel, it is meant to be understood in the film that the old Prince is leaving to die, with Bambi now standing in his place).
Now believe it or not, there IS a sequel to the Bambi story entitled “Bambi’s Children.” That book follows Bambi’s twins Geri and Gobo as they grow up in the forest and have their own adventures (along with dealing with life living in the shadow of their great father Bambi). This means that, of all the classic Disney films ever made, this is the ONE story that could have a legitimate sequel made for it (but to my knowledge Disney never acquired the rights to this book, so at this stage I doubt it would happen).
I hope you enjoyed this look at Bambi (1942), I’m sorry it took so long to finish.
*all screenshots are the property of Walt Disney studios
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