~ Man's deer call (and only words) from Bambi's perspective; attempting to lure the young deer into a deadly trap.
Man is the unseen main antagonist of Disney's 5th full-length animated feature film Bambi (which is based on the 1923 Austrian novel Bambi, a Life in the Woods by the late Felix Salten), and the secondary antagonist of its 2006 midquel Bambi II.
While being a silent character in the first film, his deer call was provided by Carolyn Hennesy (who also played Bambi's Mother in the same film) in the midquel.
Man is notable for the fact that he was never seen onscreen. He is an unseen, slender, muscular man with brown hair and gray eyes. He wears a yellow coat, light gray gloves, a red shirt, blue jeans, and black boots. He also utilized a large pack of hunting dogs near the climax of the film in order to hunt down the fleeing wildlife.
Very quiet and mysterious, Man is a sneaky, cruel, uncaring, destructive and murderous hunter who has no consideration for animals or at least, has little regard for their lives. He has been consistently ranked very high in Disney villains lists, as well as other villain lists in general and has been argued by some as one of the greatest villains of all time - proving that it is often what one does not see that is truly terrifying and dangerous. Man is also shown to be very iconic and quintessential due to how he always has a tent near him and enjoys fire.
Instead, his presence is seen via violent and detrimental acts, such as the shooting of Bambi's mother (classifying Man as a poacher since killing does and fawns is illegal in many parts of the United States) and other animals, as well as the setting of a massive forest fire (either out of negligence or malice). That said since the viewers do not know anything about him, one could argue that he hunts animals to provide for his family.
Despite being the main antagonist and having his actions playing a critical role, his role is small. He is never given a proper name, motive, sound effects (except his gun), or any speaking lines, but he is presumably a poacher (most likely part of a larger group) who has been encroaching on Bambi's native home for a substantial amount of time. His presence is always met with equal fear and awe by the many woodland animals.
He is first addressed when herds of deer gather in a clearing to see the Great Prince. Soon, ravens warn them of Man's presence and they all scatter in fear. As the Great Prince rescues Bambi and his Mother, a gunshot is heard. It is unclear whether Man has missed or killed one of the deer.
One day during the winter, Man returns and Bambi's mother senses his presence. She warns Bambi and they flee as Man shoots at them. Bambi manages to escape, but his mother ends up getting killed off-screen. As he searches for his mother, he is informed by his father, the Great Prince, about her death and raises him.
The Great Prince warned Bambi, that Man has returned to hunt again with a larger hunting party and a pack of hunting dogs. As Bambi was searching for Faline, Man attacked the forest after an unnamed pheasant drifted into madness in which she would be killed on the spot by Man while attempting to escape her fate. Man began to pick off the other animals as they panicked after seeing the pheasant fall out of the sky. He managed to kill multiple animals somewhere in the wilderness (though it was seen off-screen), as they ran away for shelter.
As the hunt was going on, Faline ran into his dogs and was chased into the rocky hills of the forest where she was cornered until Bambi arrived to fight them off one at a time. Despite the dogs outnumbering him, he managed to overpower the dogs by leaping onto the cliff and escaping by side jumping causing the unstable rocks to crush all dogs to death.
After Bambi defeated the dogs, as he took a jump, he was injured from Man's distant gunshot; it was possible that Man shot Bambi as part of the hunt, or to avenge his dogs. The situation currently remains unclear, as Man's gunshot towards Bambi would be his final shot throughout the rest of the film. As suddenly without warning, Man's fire started to spread and causes a rapid blaze which would later create a wild forest fire, forcing the animals to escape from the inferno.
The Great Prince of the Forest quickly told Bambi to get up just as the fire drew near. Bambi and the Prince escaped from the fire and swam to safety, where the other animals were gathering.
Although he is no longer shown onscreen, it was revealed that Man actually died in the fire, in a scene that was cut from the original film. This would be the only shot of him onscreen, revealing that his corpse was crushed by a tree, composed of both his arm, supposedly his head dimmed from the ashes, and his rifle as well. Whether or not that is still his official fate is up to speculation.
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. However, a flock of crows from a dark tree line flies above cawing about Man's presence, indicating that Man is waiting in the treeline and has just lured the fawn into a trap with a deer call. Man unleashes three dogs and they approach Bambi as he freezes in terror.
The crows alert the Great Prince, who comes to his son's aid and fights off the dogs, causing them to retreat to the treeline. However, the Prince spots a glint from his rifle in the treeline and he and Bambi flee the meadow as Man fires a shot at them.
Even though this was the only scene that he was in, Man probably set up a trap in the climax that would alert the dogs if anyone was captured. When Mena gets caught, the dogs come, scaring Ronno away. As the dogs approach them, Bambi leads them away and a chase is ensured throughout the entire forest until Bambi manages to defeat them.
Although he is never mentioned in the live-action sequel, it is strongly implied that he didn't survive the previous wildfire, as he is no longer shown hunting down the local wildlife of Wildwood Heart and therefore, the animals are now safe from being persecuted by hunters.
The storyboard of a deleted scene that shows Bambi's mother getting shot by Man.
Man's Camp after the Brushfire.
Man's supposed death.
Man's corpse after the fire (deleted scene).
Art of Man by Mel Shaw.
Man, as he appears in the book Bambi Grows Up.
Man as he appears in Barbara Cooney's 1970 illustration of Bambi: A Life in the Woods.
In the original book, Man is referred to as "Him".
It is unknown whether Man is legally hunting or poaching.
It could be possible that after he killed her, Man either processed Bambi's mother into meat or took her into taxidermy.
Reportedly, a scene where Bambi and his father discover his body after the forest fire was animated and shown to test audiences, but they thought that it was too grim so it was cut.
Man also appears as the main antagonist in the 1938 Felix Salten book Perri. However, he does not make an appearance in the 1957 adaptation. Instead, his role as the main antagonist is replaced by the Marten.
Although there is no mention of Man in the 1957 live-action sequel Perri, it is implied that he did not survive the fire, as he is no longer shown hunting the woodland animals.
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 fawn, further hinting that he was more of a dangerous poacher than a hunter. As such, it is illegal to shoot does or fawns in many parts of the United States. One could even argue that he could have been poaching to provide for his family.
He was originally intended to appear onscreen, but the production team decided to avoid depicting the character, because such an entity would be too dark, grim, and notorious for the film.
However, he appeared in Cartoon Network's MAD. He was featured in the sketch "Zombi", depicted wearing hunter clothes with a similar color pattern to that of Elmer Fudd's. After seeing Bambi's mother as a monstrous zombie, Man attempted to apologize, but got attacked and is likely that he was devoured after Bambi and his friends locked the mausoleum.
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.
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 of all of the villains who were not physically seen.
There is even an urban legend that Gaston LeGume was "Man". However, it is mostly considered to be a funny joke since Bambi was supposed to take place in North America, while Beauty and the Beast were supposed to take place in France. So, this makes it unlikely that he was the perpetrator. That said, the original book that Bambi is based on is set near the Alpine region of South Germany/West Austria/North Switzerland, so maybe it would not be that far-fetched for Gaston to hunt in the four European countries; France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
There was even an early script of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, where Judge Doom reveals that he was Man. Some people still believe that it would actually be Judge Doom. Nonetheless, it still should be considered a joke since Bambi is revealed to be one of the residents of Toon Town in the final scene after the defeat of Judge Doom and the gang of weasels known as Toon Patrol.
Though he was always considered to be an unseen character, he is seen in the deleted scene after the forest fire, with an arm and his rifle. This image would be the only sight of Man and the first time when he is ever seen onscreen. However, the scene was dropped due to audience members fearing that it would be a grotesquerie. As such, this was cut from production.