in case of disney’s BAMBI preproduction work started in 1936, the film was finally released august 1942. that is six years. I worked on MULAN for five years, so I know what it means to be connected to just one film for such a long time. you prepare thousands of sketches, the style has to be developed, what means, the look constantly changes in the first years. the story changes as well, sometimes so drastically that you don’t even recognize the very first ideas. I went through that in WILD LIFE and FRAIDY CAT. it happened in BAMBI’S case as well. but for different reasons. it was a time when the disney studio prepared for the very first animated feature film – SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS. nobody knew if it would work, if the audience would accept a hand-drawn film of that length. if the story and the characters were believable enough, if the artists were good enough to do it. training started in the studio, the artists went to school. you can see how much they improved when you look at the shorts they produced during that time. masterpieces! but BAMBI was a challenge. a world had to be created that was believable. a world that could not be cartoony, in big parts the film was too serious for that. but they realized very early that it could not be too realistic as well. it is very interesting when you look at the first designs of the forest-world, especially GUSTAF TENGGREN’S designs. they look beautiful, like his PINOCCHIO-illustrations. in PINOCCHIO it was ok to draw all the details of a european little village, in BAMBI it didn’t work. the thousands of leaves made the background look so busy that the characters got lost. well, as you might know, TYRUS WONG changed that with the chinese-style influenced designs he came up with. beautiful soft watercolor and pastel sketches, where you could feel the forest without every single leaf painted. in the following pages you can compare the early value sketches and layouts with the final look in the film. sometimes the little soft pencil thumbnails look even more convincing than the elaborate oil-painted background.
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