‘Bambi': 75th Anniversary Celebration

The Academy will pay tribute to the iconic and heart-touching Disney animated feature.

Where did we first learn some of the more difficult but important lessons of life?

It might have been a schoolyard misunderstanding, or seeking a class award but not getting it, or one of the dozens of stepping stones that predictably line our journeys through the early parts of our lifetimes.

But life lessons can originate with art as well as experience. If you were a kid after 1942, or even a grown-up, you likely encountered a few eternally touching truths from "Bambi," the iconic animated Disney feature, the movingest of movies, a film that has never lost an iota of relevance or emotional power.

The story of Bambi, Thumper the rabbit, and Flower the skunk is turning 75 in 2017, and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is screening the masterpiece as well as welcoming two central players from the film, Donnie Donagan and Peter Behn, who voiced Young Bambi and Young Thumper, respectively.

The Monday, May 15 tribute sold out as quickly as a deer leaps over a fallen log — no surprise there — but there will be a stand-by line for tickets at the Wilshire Boulevard headquarters for the organization.

Leonard Maltin has hosting duties and Walt Disney Animation Studios production designer Paul Felix will be in attendance, too. The event will also salute the memory of Disney legend Tyrus Wong, one of the celebrated animators who gave "Bambi" its soft-edged, painterly look.

The forest, of course, is one of the main characters of the film. It's also interesting to remember, especially for Southern Californians, that "Bambi" the film flourished not among the fir trees but, rather, in Burbank, at the Walt Disney Studios, as well as other points around town, including Hollywood and Silver Lake.

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When we think of Bambi the character, we often think of his mother, and the film's theme of loss and heartache. But Bambi grew, too, with the support of his friends, all while learning some universal life lessons, something millions of young viewers also first discovered alongside the fawn up on the screen.

It's a film with complexity, sadness, depth, and joy. If you're humming "drip, drip drop little April showers" by this point, or you can mimick little Flower shyly pulling his tail across his face, you surely know the movie's sweet and buoyant side, too. 

Dearest "Bambi": Happy 75 years.

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