austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Love is a song that never ends

bunny_hugger asked ``How is the Bambi DVD?'' -- US stores apparently respecting the shelf date for the Special Edition DVD, a concept foreign to Singapore stores. The movie itself, in a word: perfect. In several words: pretty near perfect.

Disney's crack team of packaging engineers nearly beat me this time: the cardboard sleeve -- itself in a (resealable) bag from HMV -- was shrink-wrapped. The cardboard sleeve has a notch cut out to ``open here'', which you can do if you overcome the adhesive strength of some gooey drops inside. This lets you see a more elaborate title page; the DVD case itself slides out from the top or bottom of the sleeve, so the ``open here'' is just a decoy. The DVD case is also shrink-wrapped, for your protection.

The restored footage is bright, holds its luminosity exactly right, is crystal clear and doesn't show any hint of film grain or wear anywhere. If not for the extraordinary skill in drawing snow and water, and the fluctuations in character painting, you'd think it was made this year. You could cut yourself on the sharpness of the character outlines. It's just incredible. In fact it may be too good: on some of multi-plane camera shots you can see the empty animation cels!

The movie particularly benefits from this perfect coloring since Disney animators in that era were so eager to use color to establish the tone of a scene, and when the colors are that vibrant it makes the scenes hit with that much more punch.

The extras include, if I'm not misreading this, features on the making of Bambi that are in total twice as long as the actual movie. I haven't had the chance to watch all of this yet, but should over the coming weeks. There's a long bit (allegedly 1 hour, 10 minutes, if I'm not reading the notes wrong, but that's suspiciously equal to the movie's length) on ``Inside Walt's Story Meetings,'' a 53-minute making-of documentary separate to that, five minutes on the restoration project, a five-minute ``Time Capsule'' describing a tiny bit of the outside world in 1942, a nine-minute ``Inside the Disney Archives'' thing, and an eight-minute ``Tricks of the Trade'' from a 1957 Disneyland explaining the multiplane camera, along with the short The Old Mill in which the multiplane camera was first tested.

There's plenty of preparatory artwork, sketches, posters, and that sort of thing, as well as a pair of short scenes -- really, drawings shown briskly -- of Bambi and Faline having a spot of winter grass, and of Bambi's alternate first experience with snow. The most curious omission: they don't include the storyboard for the deleted ``I Like Falling'' musical sequence, which I know they had on the last videotape release.

There's a trailer and a making-of teaser for Bambi and the Great Prince of the Forest, which looks like it's drawn reasonably well -- the backgrounds strongly resemble those of Brother Bear and Lilo and Stitch in quality.

The sequel seems to be set in mid-film, between the Great Prince taking Bambi after his mother was shot, and before we see Bambi again. A couple of the new scenes look like outtakes from the original movie, like Bambi sniffing at a spider-web or sliding down a snow-covered hill. (No hint of whether they'll have an attacked-by-an-otter sequence.) The voice of the Great Prince is Patrick Stewart, who may not match the original but certainly is a fine choice. The voice of Bambi is Alexander Gould, the voice of Nemo. Their New Thumper sounds almost right; he's probably the hardest voice to cast, since Thumper so dominates every scene he's in it's hard to notice the other characters.

The sequel animators seem to be working hard to match the story notes and the model sheets from the original film, even going back to watching how actual deer move. But the animators also talk about how it's the story of how Bambi learns to love again after the trauma and the Great Prince learns how to deal with ``this situation ... now he's almost stuck with Bambi, with this youngster that he's supposed to raise.'' The name Felix Salten is not mentioned. All this doesn't allay my fears.

There are also trailers for Chicken Little, which sure looks routine for a CGI movie about a chicken saving the world from alien invasion; the Cinderella DVD release; and the made-for-DVD sequel Lilo and Stitch II: Stich Has A Glitch, which seems to be independent of the TV show continuity.

Trivia: The Tin Woodsman's name, before becoming tin, was Nick Chopper. Source: The Marvelous Land of Oz, L Frank Baum.

Currently Reading: The Compleat McAndrew, Charles Sheffield.


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