cel from the animated classic Bambi

Bambi World Premiere in London

Near the end of production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1936, Walt Disney and his team began work on Bambi. Five years later, the film was still not complete. Walt explained that it was difficult to make “the story of all life with its loves and its tragedies and triumphs told in terms of the forest and the forest animals. But it was outside our customary storyline. So I wouldn’t hurry. I wanted it right. I wanted those animal characters in Bambi to be actors, not just cute things. I wanted acting on a plane with the highest acting in the finest live-action pictures.” Creating realistic animals of that caliber was but one challenge. The entire style of the film was another, and Walt said, “We took some of our top artists who worked in oils for their own enjoyment in their leisure time. They taught their technique to the watercolor men. There’s a vast difference in the two techniques, but I was set on oil painting, because of its quality. I figured oils would give a sheen to the forest and accentuate the depth. It worked, too, but perfecting a technique takes time.” Thus, the years passed, and the world became engaged in a great war. Despite the events of World War II, Bambi, complete with its mere 900 words of dialogue, captivated its first public audience at its world premiere in London on this day in 1942.