Bambi: Diamond Edition

Disney's latest remaster will bring tears to the eyes of any fan- for all the right reasons

Bambi is possibly Walt Disney’s crowning achievement in feature animation. Based on the popular book by Austrian author Felix Salten, this story of a young fawn and his woodland friends might boast a fairly sleight 70min running time, but into that it packs some of the most beautiful hand-drawn animation ever committed to celluloid, a simple yet effective narrative that set the template for countless animated films to follow and some heart-wrenching scenes that can still turn adults into a blubbering mess. Truly magical.

Picture: Disney’s fifth animated classic comes to Blu-ray with a gorgeous AVC 1.33:1 1080p encode that belies the film’s age.  While the previous Special Edition DVD with its carefully restored imagery set a new benchmark for this 69 year-old classic in home entertainment terms, this hi-def outing simply blows it out of the water with its crisply rendered line-work on the characters and beautifully nuanced watercolour-style background art. There’s no print damage on display either and, just as important, unlike the earlier Pinocchio Blu-ray, the visuals don’t have that slightly over-processed look with tweaked colour timing. The disc also includes the usual Disney View mode, allowing you to watch the film with art (in this case, by Liz Keene) replacing the black bars at the sides of the screen.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: Now this is bizarre. Up until now, every single Disney animated classic that has come to Blu-ray has featured a lossless audio mix – and very nice they were, too. But for Bambi the studio has opted only to serve up a DTS-HD High Resolution 7.1 soundtrack (and this isn’t just a mastering glitch, as it’s explicitly listed as such on the Set Up menu). Regardless of this disappointment, the actual quality of the mix is very good, with the film’s music and dialogue rendered with astonishing clarity. It’s just a shame that - by not offering a truly lossless option - it’s not as good as it could have been.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: The main feature on offer is Inside Walt’s Story Meetings, an enhanced viewing mode similar to Warner's Maximum Movie Mode only with dramatic reconstructions based on production transcripts in place of the more traditional audio commentary. The mode also includes various on-screen art pop-ups (sometimes allowing them to dominate the screen and leaving the film playing in a smaller window) as well as links to 13 branching features (running the gamut from featurettes, deleted scenes and even bonus cartoons).

On top of this, the Blu-ray also offers an intro by Diane Disney Miller, two new deleted scenes, a deleted song, five art interactive galleries and (for the kids) an interactive book packed with games. Ported over from the DVD are two different deleted scenes, the 52min The Making of Bambi documentary, a short archival piece about the Multiplane Crane camera rig used in making the film, a featurette about the Disney Archives, another archival animated short and the original theatrical trailer.
Extras rating: 4/5

We say: A sumptuous hi-def package for an all-time animated classic, but the lack of lossless audio is both disappointing and puzzling.

Walt Disney Home Entertainment, All-region BD/R2 DVD, £24 approx, On sale now