- “Hello... I'm here... It's me... I'm here... Hello...”
- ―Man's deer call from Bambi's perspective; attempting to lure the young fawn into a deadly trap.[src]
Man is the unseen main antagonist of the 1942 animated film Bambi. He is the hunter who killed Bambi's mother, a doing which is widely acknowledged as one of the most infamous and upsetting acts of villainy in any Disney film.
Despite the existence of the other hunters, "Man" still specifically refers to one person, and the main one at the climax of the movie is indeed the killer of Bambi's mother from earlier. Being a mere hunter, Man is not truly evil by human standards, but from the perspective of the animals whom the film follows, he might as well be the Devil.
Despite not actually appearing in the film at all, the character is famous for causing the death of Bambi's mother, one of the most famously tragic scenes in Disney history. Because he is never once seen onscreen, one can tell that something revolving around "Man" will occur when his infamous tune begins to play. "Man" was ranked number 20 on the American Film Institute's list of the top 50 film villains of all time, being one of only three Disney villains on the list (along with the Evil Queen and Cruella De Vil, Man being the middle-ranked of the three) and beating out such famous villains as Maleficent, Jafar, Scar, Stromboli, and others.
He is first seen when Bambi and his mother are first grazing in the meadow, and the Great Prince warns them. Later on in the film, he is responsible for the death of Bambi's mother. Near the end of the film, Man returns to the forest with other men hunters and hunting dogs to help him kill more deer and the rest of the forest's animals. During the hunt, he succeeds in shooting Bambi, but only wounds him and never manages to track the deer down. However, Man and the other hunters, unfortunately, leave their campfire lit, which causes a massive forest fire. There are deleted scenes shown to test audiences where Bambi and his father discover his corpse after the fire, with the great prince claiming "Perhaps there is some justice in this world after all", showing he has no remorse for him. Those have been cut for being too grim.
A period of time after his mother is killed, Bambi falls asleep waiting for his father to return. He awakens after a dream about his beloved mother to the distant sounds of what appears to be her calling him. Bambi follows the voice to the edge of the forest. Upon arriving at an open meadow, the voice continues and Bambi enters into the opening. Then, crows from a dark treeline fly above cawing "Man! Man! Man!", indicating the hunter is waiting in the treeline and has just lured the fawn into a trap with a deer call. Three vicious dogs emerge from the treeline and Bambi freezes in terror as the predators run towards him.
The crows alert the Great Prince who comes to his son's aid and fights off the dogs, who retreat to the treeline. The Prince notices a shine in the treeline (Man's rifle) and he and Bambi flee the meadow as the hunter fires a shot at them.
Although Man is not encountered again in the film, Mena is ensnared in one of his traps after a fight between Ronno and Bambi, however, she is saved as Bambi lures his dogs away while the Great Prince sets her free, saving her from certain death.
- In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, one of the early drafts of the script was going to have Judge Doom be revealed as the hunter who killed Bambi's mother but was changed for unknown reasons.
- In the original book, Man is referred to as "He" and plays a more extant role in the story.
- Since his real name is unknown, he is just referred to as "Man" by most of the animals, including The Great Prince of the Forest.
- While it can be argued whether or not he holds any true evil intent, like most other Disney villains, it is noted that Man had no qualms with killing a doe with her fawn. This further hints that he was more of a poacher than a hunter, as it is illegal to shoot does or fawns in many parts of the United States. Also, in Bambi II, he had no guilt about trying to kill Bambi, who at the time was still a fawn.
- According to the Bambi production team, Man was originally intended to appear onscreen. However, the team decided to avoid depicting the character, because such an entity would be too dark, grim and notorious for the film, thus confirming that Man was indeed an evil individual.
- In a Golden Book about Bambi, which abridged the film, Man's campsite is shown and Bambi is cautioned this is when again "Man" has entered the forest. However, several tents are shown, suggesting Man is with a larger hunting party instead of by himself.
- Also in the book Bambi Grows Up, Man and another hunter are shown in-person, which indicates that Man has a hunting partner rather by himself. This is one of the few media in the Bambi franchise were he is physically shown in-person, as he isn't seen in the film.
- Osamu Tezuka's 1951 manga adaptation of Bambi has a scene where Bambi and Thumper briefly explore Man's cabin.
- Man was ranked as the 20th greatest screen villain of all time by the AFI's 100 years, 100 Heroes and Villains list, being the second-highest animated villain on the list, and the only one that was not physically seen.
- In the film, Man is represented by a 3-note motif. This motif may have inspired John Williams' iconic theme from Jaws.
- "Man is in the forest" later became the code phrase in the studio to indicate that Walt Disney was approaching.
- Because the film is from the forest animals' point of view, and Man is an unseen character, it is meant to convey the sense that the viewers themselves could be the villains, if given the chance to make the same decisions he made.
- Although he doesn't speak, he does make a deer call in the second film, which is the voice of Bambi's mother, as he is trying to lure Bambi into a trap.