BAMBI (from another thread)


I've been listening to this amazing score a lot lately. I'm surprised it doesn't get mentioned more often in those "all-time" conversations we love so much.

What's so great about the music is how cyclical it is (I mean that in a good way). The film is about the cycle of life (season to season, infancy to adulthood, life to death), and the score reflects that beautifully, from its playful and jaunty beginnings for the young prince learning to walk and finding his way through the forest, through the thicker, darker material of winter and tragedy, to the triumphant finale of finding love and ones place in the world. It's magical.

I also love how Churchill's predatory "Man" material--a simple but ominous, repeating three-note motif--sounds like an ironic precursor to Williams' shark material from JAWS.

Add some classic songs to a sublime score and you have the makings of a flawless album.

(If there's already a thread dedicated to this score I couldn't find it, but the search engine was partly down.)

Bambi is a great score (the trio were fantastic!)... It is also true that Randy Thornton did a great job restauring all these disney classics. Too sad that disney classics from 70's, 80's and 90's were not included (imagine, at last, a good version of the black cauldron)...
I found that Broughton did a good effort with bambi 2.
George Bruns was also a great composer and I love his underscores.

Co-incidentally, I found a copy of this CD in a sale for ?3.99 and picked it up. What intrigued me most was the final track, a three-and-a-half minute interview with Henry Mancini. I just thought he was an odd choice to ask for an opinion on BAMBI. His comments were most welcome however.


Frank Churchill was a genius. Apparently, he would compose at the piano, fingering it out right there, with very little actual musical training. The reminiscences about him refer to this aspect of his almost uncanny ability to pick out lovely melodies, almost instantly, in this fashion. Unfortunately, they also refer to his morose depressions, combined with alcoholism, which led to his early death by suicide.

Churchill was the guiding force behind much of the music of what are now regarded as the Golden Age of Disney animated features. Though SNOW WHITE was credited to three people, Churchill composed the greater part of it. I remember reading somewhere that the most memorable cue in the whole score is the short moment, when the forest animals lead Snow White to the Dwarfs' cottage. It is lovely.

BAMBI may be his masterpiece. I'm always struck by that hushed opening pan shot of the forest, with that ethereal choir. Of course, this may owe something to the involvement of Ken Darby, who worked at Disney during the early 40's. But the whole score is wonderful, and I am so glad so much of it is available on CD. Curiously, the CD omits one moment that used to be on the old Disneyland lp, the wordless choir depicting the panorama of the burning forest, from the viewpoint of the animals safe on the island. Incredible moment, but also, like many moments in animation, short; it says exactly what it means to say in as little time as possible. (The scores for these films were composed and recorded actually before final animation was completed. Disney wanted no extra money spent on expensive animation that would end up being cut. Consequently, unlike live-action features, the scores were completed even before the final animation work began, of drawing, inking, and painting each cel.)

I've often wanted to do a thread here on the alcoholism of many of the early film music masters of the Golden Age. Drinking excessively was much more openly unquestioned then than it would be today. I've wondered how that affected their output. I can certainly guess it affected their lifespan. Alfred Newman would have lived far longer, had he not drunk and smoked as much as he did, I'm sure.

In praise of Frank Churchill, one can only observe that he was a far better composer drunk than most composers are today sober.

It's tragic that geniuses are often tormented by such powerful inner demons. It should make the rest of us all the more humble and thankful when enjoying their work.

Amen, Ed. And thank you to John for bringing it up.

You wonder if madness is the only way they can tap such an endless reservoir of inspiration. It's a shame you so rarely find one without the other.

Just wanted to share what others were thinking about one of Disney's best soundtracks.