Toon Talk: Toon Talk: Bambi Diamond Edition Blu-Ray
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The Forest for the Trees
This week’s “Diamond Edition” Blu-ray of Bambi marks the high definition debut of the beloved Disney classic. A true masterpiece in the art of animation, the film ranks high on many a cinephile’s list of the best of the medium, and has often been cited as an influence on other filmmakers to this day. Its simple story of a boy growing up in the harsh realities of the world is as timeless now as it ever has been, and it remains a “must see” for every generation.
So it is a bit disturbing that everything new about this release is designed to distract you from actually watching the movie.
Firstly, in a continuing trend with their Blu-rays, Disney has packed this one so full of the latest gimmicks that you may have to upgrade your player’s firmware before you can even play the disc. Imagine getting the kids ready to watch Bambi for the first time, only to make them wait for however long it takes you to resolve this issue. (And it’s not just Bambi; the same thing happened to me with such other recent Disney Blu-rays as Monsters, Inc. and Toy Story 3. Believe me, I watch a lot of Blu-rays, and I have never had to do this with any other company’s; I have only had to update my player for Disney Blu-rays.)
If the content needing these upgrades was worthwhile, it wouldn’t be much of a problem. But when it is something like “Disney Second Screen”, then there is a problem. This latest “innovation” allows you to synchronize the movie as you’re watching it with your laptop or iPad (the “second screen”) and watch bonus content, play games, etc. Seriously, Disney? Bonus features are to watch after the movie, not at the same time. When I want to watch a movie, I want to watch the movie, not play a game, not chat online, just watch the movie. Silly distractions such as this (and BD-Live, for that matter) do not improve the movie watching experience; it dilutes it.
And honestly, does anybody even use these types of features? I imagine maybe once to try them out, but I don’t see the ongoing allure of them. It calls to mind the old phrase “can’t see the forest for the trees”; while Disney is focusing on all these extraneous and ultimately worthless add-ons, their missing the point: that it is the movie itself that matters.
And in this case, that movie is Bambi, and its digital upgrade to high definition makes it look as if it was painted only yesterday. There are two audio options (a new 7.1 Disney Enhanced Home Theater Mix and the restored original soundtrack) as well, and the film can also be viewed with “Disney View” (previously seen on the Pinocchio, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Fantasia Blu-rays), which adds complimentary artwork (here done by artist Lisa Keene) to the sides of the image to “fill out” the widescreen image.
Another viewing option available is the “Enhanced Edition” of the “Inside Walt’s Story Meetings” feature from Bambi’s 2005 Platinum Edition DVD release. Acting as an “audio/visual commentary”, the verbal reenactments of the original story meeting transcripts are heard while, “picture-in-picture” style, concept art, storyboards and other archival material is seen alongside the film itself. The feature-length program also allows you to “branch out” into supplemental chapters focusing in-depth on other behind the scenes features, such as deleted scenes and cartoon inspirations (the complete shorts Canine Caddy and On Ice are included, for example).