Each second of the film is bursting with beauty; the decidedly naturalistic animation that often grows into brave dreamlike sequences, the score that punctuates the action where dialogue would seem intrusive, and the simple narrative whose conflict derives from organic development rather than the presence of a super-evil villain. Although these are present within much of Disney's output, they are never function as crucially as they do here. The next animated feature to be released, Cinderella, was a much cheaper and more generic tale that set the box-office alight and steered Disney into forging a narrative format of a protagonist facing the villain in order to reach their goal. Alice in Wonderland, Lady and the Tramp, The Jungle Book, The Rescuers etc. seem somewhat confined to such formatting. They are good (and often great) films but the studio's daring artistic ambition may have faded with Bambi, simply put it seems their goal was to entertain rather than to explore animation.
So Bambi can be seen as a Disney rarity. It is less a fairytale and more of a fable, a tale that strips the excesses of humanity to examine life at its most basic. It is both a lesson and a celebration of birth, death, friendships and love. Absent are the magical attributes of characters, fanciful dreams and dastardly villains, Bambi presents a natural world that exists within our own yet remains entirely novel. If the film had been a greater box-office success, originally, perhaps the Disney studio would not have fled to the fairytale format and would have continued more ambitious filmmaking.
That is not to say that I would want to rob the world (and myself) of such gems as Peter Pan, 101 Dalmations and Beauty and the Beast, but I can't help but wish Disney remained as brave a studio as it was when originally created. Perhaps now is the time for such a renaissance?