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DVD Picks: 'Bambi'

Each week, film critic Bob Mondello offers you a recommendation from the expanding realm of new TV and DVD offerings.

My recommendation this week: a spiffy, digitally cleaned up Blu-ray edition of the Disney animated classic, Bambi.

Remember it well, do you? Well, if you recall how Thumper bleated "Watch what I can do!" as he pushed off with one big floppy foot to slide onto a frozen pond, imagine that in 1942, it felt as if it was really the Disney animators saying, "Watch what we can do."

To make the studio's first Circle-of-Life story — about a white-tailed fawn who grows up to be Prince of the Forest — they were so intent on animated realism that they created a zoo on the Disney backlot, sent camera crews out to shoot woodlands in New England and Latin America, and insisted on such accurate animated detail that instead of 13 seconds of film per day, the animators were producing less than one second.

The result was pretty gorgeous — hand-drawn naturalism — but costs were so high that Bambi actually lost money on its first release. It made it all up a few years later, and since then, of course, it's been seen by so many children that when the cuteness of critters inspires folks to join the animal rights movement, it's called "The Bambi Effect."

This new two-disc set — one Blu-ray and one regular DVD — includes a lot of extras on the Blu-ray disk that aren't included on the regular DVD, including a deleted scene that's narrated in sketch form and a song called "Twitterpated" that was written for the film but never used.

Also, for multi-taskers, there's something called "Second Screen" that lets you watch interactive features on a computer that are timed to the movie playing on your TV ... until, that is, the little ones crawl into your lap during that scary forest-fire sequence.

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Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.