… premiered 72 years ago today.

Is there a sadder movie ever than this Disney classic?

Roger Ebert wrote an excellent review when Bambi was released yet again in 1988. He starts generally positive:

In the annals of the great heartbreaking moments in the movies, the death of Bambi’s mother ranks right up there with the chaining of Dumbo’s mother and the moment when E. T. seems certainly dead. These are movie moments that provide a rite of passage for children of a certain age: You send them in as kids, and they come out as sadder and wiser preteenagers.

And there are other moments in the movie almost as momentous. “Bambi” exists alone in the Disney canon. It is not an adventure and not a “cartoon,” but an animated feature that describes with surprising seriousness the birth and growth of a young deer. Everybody remembers the cute early moments when Bambi can’t find his footing and keeps tripping over his own shadow. Those scenes are among the most charming the Disney animators ever drew.

But then he questions the whole effort:

Hey, I don’t want to sound like an alarmist here, but if you really stop to think about it, “Bambi” is a parable of sexism, nihilism and despair, portraying absentee fathers and passive mothers in a world of death and violence. I know the movie’s a perennial clasic, seen by every generation, remembered long after other movies have been forgotten. But I am not sure it’s a good experience for children – especially young and impressionable ones.