The film still resonates, in part, because Walt Disney had actual wildlife animals to inspire the company’s animators. That, Mr. Elder said, gave the film a more naturalistic look.
Brad Ricca, who teaches classes on comic books and American pop culture at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said most children’s films today follow the “Shrek” formula — celebrity voice-actors plus low-brow comedy.
But “Bambi” hit theaters during World War II, a time when the chance of parental death would have been unusually present, which may have influenced Walt Disney’s team of storytellers.
“‘Bambi’ is an artistic masterpiece of animation, but it is very much reflective of the time period it came from,” Mr. Ricca said.
That timeliness, however, may present a barrier for today’s children on other grounds. Syndicated Orlando Sentinel film critic Roger Moore wonders whether today’s children will appreciate “Bambi’s” artistic achievements.
“The grown-ups will look at it and have their jaws drop. It’s maybe the most gorgeous Blu-ray I’ve ever seen,” Mr. Moore said.
But he said the film reflects the cel-animation style and storytelling tone of ‘40s Hollywood, decades before the gag-a-minute writing and 3-D/special-effects look in animated films such as the “Shrek” and “Ice Age” movies conquered the box office.
“It’s hard to say if kids will be absorbed by it.” he said. “It doesn’t have enough distractions to keep people glued to the screen.”
Mr. Moore also noted that modern children’s movies generally steer clear of difficult themes along the lines of “Bambi.”
“For the most part, kids movies today are still borderline Pablum. We do so much to shelter kids,” he said.