The Encyclopedia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters: From Mickey Mouse to Hercules
One of Walt Disney's most beloved characters, Bambi.
is not a tightly plotted movie in the way that Dumbo
, for example, is: it depends much more for its effect on the superb animation and the exquisitely executed backdrop of the forest. As with the story, most of the characterization is not profound - one does not find oneself rooting for Bambi in the same way that one does for, say, Dumbo (again) or Snow White. The only really strong characterizations are those of Friend Owl and Thumper. But this lack of depth in the characterization is not important; indeed, it would probably have been a mistake, for the point of the movie is that these are real animals - any
animals - living in a real forest.
The character of Bambi himself fits in with this scheme. In his early youth he has a full measure of all the charm that a young mammal can display, with his spindly legs and his wide-eyed innocence. His voice, supplied by Bobby Stewart, is childishly cute; as he grows older his voice becomes progressively more mature, being supplied in these later stages of the movie by Donnie Dunagan, Hardy Albright and John Sutherland. Simultaneously he loses his spots and develops an array of antlers, yet throughout the ageing process he nevertheless always seems somehow a very young buck, much lighter than, for example, the Great Prince, even through latterly the two of them are depicted as being much the same in size.
Bambi has no memorable lines to deliver, yet he has nevertheless won a vast band of loyal devotees over the decades.
Bambi, appraching adulthood; later he will become a proud stag.