Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Movie: A great nature movie

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight movie is Walt Disney’s “Bambi” (1942):

I am not one of those who go crazy over all things Disney. Usually come to a Disney movie–and this includes the animated features–with a bit of cynicism. But I got to tell you Bambi is one of those Disney movies I really like. And I like it a lot. The colors and the animation are awesome. And that is Awesome with a capital A. And it has such a great story.

Disney has just released the seventy-fifth anniversary version of Bambi on blu-ray. The colors are wonderful and the animation absolutely brilliant. This was Disney’s fifth animated feature. Snow WhitePinocchioFantasia, and Dumbo came before. And they wouldn’t get to the high-quality animation and story again until the fifties and Cinderella. The reason may be that Disney had not turned a profit on any of the five. Animated features were financially a risky business in the thirties and forties.

I have to say I never saw this one as a child. As an adult I saw it once and then forgot about it. But not now. This one is unforgettable.

We don’t think of Bambi as a nature film. I never have. But it may be the first full-length feature film that gave nature center stage. And the damage that man came bring to a natural environment.

Walt Disney went to all kinds of efforts to make sure the forest and the animals were portrayed correctly. He sent animators to New England to study the forests there. He held classes on animal anatomy. He even brought in deer to show how to correctly portray Bambi and his family.

Watching this film made me realize how much of nature and animals Disney put into his animated features. Early on, Disney often made animals the center of his animated features and several times they were the stars of the show. Beginning with everybody’s favorite mouse. Think of The Jungle Book and Dumbo. Think of the forest animals in Snow White and in Sleeping Beauty; Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio; the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland; Cinderella’s sidekicks, the two mice, Jaq and Gus. And what would a Disney animated film be without the animals. Often it’s the animals that steal the show. I think this is one of the reasons we love Disney’s animation.

So see the new release of Bambi. It’s worth a looksee. And yes, tears did form in my eyes with the death of Bambi’s mom.


Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: Mowgli and the Gang

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is Disney’s “The Jungle Book” (2016):

As most of you know, I am not much for remakes. When I saw that Disney had remade “The Jungle Book”, I was pretty positive I didn’t want to see it. Then I saw the trailer on You Tube and I go, “Why not? It can’t be all that bad.” After all, Walt and his animators had given us a good animated version in the sixties. I even remembered the song, “The Bare Necessities”, sung by Phi Harris.

But this one was going to be a live action movie. I have seen the other live action versions, even the Sabu, and I wasn’t all that impressed. And the recent live-action Disney movies I haven’t care for. I am not talking about the Marvel ones or the Star Wars. I am referring to “John Carter”, “The Great and Powerful Oz” and “Maleficent” which were made by Disney Studios under the Disney banner. Though I did enjoy Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland”, mostly they underwhelmed me.

Finally Disney has produced a really good live action movie. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, to complain about with this new “Jungle Book”. Director Jon Favreau has given us a terrific movie.

Movies live or die based on the story. It’s not the cgi or the music or the actors. It’s the story. Director Favreau has not forgotten that. And he has a great supporting cast. Ben Kingsley is Bagheera, the Panther. Idris Elba is Shere Khan, the Tiger. Scarlet Johansson is Kaa the Snake. Christopher Walken is King Louie, the Monkey King. And Bill Murray gets to sing “The Bare Necessities” as Baloo the Bear. Also this was Gary Shandling final movie. He plays Ikki the Porcupine.

Recently I have seen two amazing performances by child actors. Jacob Temblay turned in a great performance as Jack in “Room”. “Jungle Book” gives us Neel Sethi. He is absolutely fearless as Mowgli, the boy who was adopted by wolves. On top of all that, Favreau gives our eyes a visual delight of a jungle.

There’s not much else I can say about this one. Except see it. You might just find yourself enjoying it as much as I did.