Acknowledgments. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the American Society for Environmental History Conference, Houston, Texas, 3 March 1991. 1 am grateful to the many friends who shared their own experiences with Bambi and who provided Bambi citations, insights and clippings. I also thank David 0. Percy and anonymous referees for their helpful comments and suggestions.
The Disney Company denied permission to use images from the film to illustrate this paper. Readers are urged to view the video version of Bambi (Burbank, California: Walt Disney Home Video, 1989).
1. Bernard Nietschmann, "The Bambi Factor," Natural History 86 (August/ September 1977): 84; Eleanor Ringel, "Want to Pat Bambi, Marry Cinderella? A Psychological Profile of Disney Fans," Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 24 July 1988, p. M I .
2. Felix Salten, Bambi (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1928). Bambi has gone through a number of editions and paginations. I am citing the first American edition. Grosset & Dunlap's Thrushwood Books edition is identical in content and pagination to this first Simon and Schuster edition.
Disney produced other films based on the "Felix Salten" books written by Siegmund Salzmann (1869- 1945). The film Perri was based on Salten's Perri: The Youth of a Squirrel, and The Shaggy Dog was an adaptation of Salten's The Hound of Florence. Stanley J. Kunitz and Howard Haycraft, eds., Twentieth Century Authors (New York: H. W. Wilson Co., 1942), p. 1224, provides biographical information about Salzmann, as does Anne Commire, ed., Something about the Author (Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Co., 1981), pp. 207-12, who also lists his books.
On Chambers' love of nature and revulsion at cruelty to animals, see his autobiography Witness (New York: Random House, 1952), pp. 93-95, 114, 117, 123-24, 146-48, 719. Then a Communist, Chambers accepted the job of translating Bambi to augment his meager earnings as an employee of the Daily Worker. Twenty years later, he appeared before the House Committee on Un-American Activities to testify against Alger Hiss and communism (Witness, pp. 239, 537).
3. "Screen: Bambi," People Weekly 30 (18 July 1988): 17. Disney reserved the status of woodland "prince" for Bambi and his father, although all bucks were princes in Salten's novel. There are no princesses in the one-sided aristocracy of both Salten and Disney. Their bucks and does model culturally stereotyped male and female role models. Selfless mother stays home with the fawns while father, an authority figure, is away most of the time at work on the job of survival. He does show up to offer wisdom at critical points in his child's life.
4. David I. Berland has presented a psychoanalytical interpretation of Thumper and Flower. "In addition to Mickey, Donald and Goofy, Disney created another world of animated feature films," he wrote. "These films contain characters with purely superego traits. They serve as guides, advice givers and teachers. They include Thumper the rabbit and Flower the skunkin Bambi Berland, "Disney and Freud: Walt Meets the Id," Journal of Popular Culture 15 (Spring 1982): 97.
5. Disney does not establish this relationship, but in Salten's novel Bambi's mother and Faline's mother are sisters. Thus, Bambi and Faline are first cousins.
6. "Man," as used by both Felix Salten and Walt Disney, is synonymous with "hunter(s)," although it can also be interpreted as referring to humans in a generic sense. Man, with a capital M, acquires a concrete identity as a character both in the novel and the film. For this reason, I will use the name "Man" when referring to this character.
7. Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas, Walt Disney's Bambi: The Story and the Film (New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1990), pp. 170-75. Storyboard sketches of the mother being shot appear on pp. 170- 71; Jamie Portman, "Generations Stunned by Death Scene in 'Bambi'," Boston Globe, 15 July 1988, p. 32; Charles Solomon, Enchanted Drawings: The History of Animation (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989), pp. 129-30.
8. Pauline Kael, Going Steady (Boston, Massachusetts: Little, Brown & Co., 1970), p. 225; David Kehr, "'Bambi' Handles Emotion with Maturity, Sensitivity," Chicago Tribune, 15 July 1988, sec. 7, p. L; Stephen King, "A Master of Horror Stories has some Provocative Thoughts about Tots, Terror and TV," TV Guide 29 (13 June 1981): 8.
9. Barbara F. Meltz, "The 'Bambi' Quandary," Boston Globe, 12 September 1988, p. 22; Dr. Louise Bates, associate director of the Gesell Institute of Human Behavior, telephone interview with author, New Haven, Connecticut, 3 January 1991; Meltz, "The 'Bambi' Quandary," p. 23; Michael Blowen, "'Bambi' Fends with Help from his Friends," Boston Globe, 24 September 1989, p. B96; "Bambi's Back and Guess What?" Chicago Tribune, 18 July 1988, sec. 1, p. 10.
10. William Shear, 17 January 1991, personal communication with author.
11. Raymond J. Brown, "Outdoor Life condemns Walt Disney's film 'Bambi' as Insult to American Sportsmen," Outdoor Life 90 (September 1942): 17, 66; Richard W. Westwood, "Battle of Bambi," Nature Magazine 35 (October 1942): 441.
12. "What Charlie Saw," Primary 7 (March 1887): 203; Susan L. Flader, Thinking Like a Mountain, Aldo Leopold and the Evolution of an Ecological Attitude toward Deer, Wolves and Forests (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1978), p. 199; Curt Meine, Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988), p. 442.
13. Thomas McIntyre, "Shooting Bambi's Mom," Sports Afield 206 (October 1991): 35.
14. George Reiger, "The Truth About Bambi," Field & Stream 84 (March 1980): 17; Maura Dolan, "The Bambi Constituency," San Francisco Chronicle: This World, 13 January 1991, pp. 14-15; James P. Sterba, "Even A Real Genius Notes that Bambi is a Relevant Factor," Wall Street Journal, 12 October 1989, p. A10. Reiger's analysis of Bambi, although sometimes overreaching, is one of the most interesting ones available,
15. Elizabeth Atwood Lawrence, Rodeo: An Anthropologist Looks at the Wild and the Tame (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1982), p. 254; Angus K. Gillespie and Jay Mechling, American Wildlife in Symbol and Story (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1987), p. 6; Comments of a ranger-naturalist at the Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas, 28 February 1991; Kevin M. Wood, "The 'Bambi Syndrome' Strikes," Boston Sunday Globe, 18 December 1983, p. A18.
16. Dyan Machan, "Bambi and the Baron," Forbes 144 (11 December 1989): 300; Bambi Meets Godzilla, by Marr Newland, is included among the satirical films collected on video, Hardware Wars and other Film Farces (Burbank, California: Warner Home Video, 1983).
17. Ted Williams, "Should they Shoot Bambi?" Boston Magazine 76 (November 1984): 179, 248; Alan Richman, "Shedding a Tear for Bambi," Boston Globe, 1 December 1984, p. 69. For information about the Crane Memorial Reservation controversy, see Ralph H. Lutts, The Nature Fakers: Wildlife, Science and Sentiment (Golden, Colorado: Fulcrum, 1990), pp. 200-202,
18. Chet Raymo, "Birds and Bees and Bambi," Boston Globe, 25 April 1988, p. 34.
19. Ronald Bailey, "Hi there, Bambi," Forbes 144 (16 October 1989): 46.
20. Johnston and Thomas, supervising animators on Disney's Bambi project,
describe the artistic problem in Walt Disney's Bambi. Their book
includes a large collection of study sketches prepared in the early phases
of the project. See also Janet Martin, "Bringing Bambi to the Screen," Nature Magazine 35 (August- September 1942): 350-52; the sketches in Adrian Bailey's Walt Disney's World of Fantasy (New York: Everest House, 1982), pp. 143-45; and Robert D. Field, The Art of Walt Disney (London: Collins, 1947), fig. 179, p. 241. Field examines the artistic problems of Bambi in detail, especially in pp. 174, 176, 179-83, 196-212, 240-46, 264-66.
21. Salten, Bambi, pp. 62, 81, anonymous blurb on dust jacket rear end flap (emphasis in original), p. 293.
22. Kehr, "'Bambi' Handles Emotion with Maturity, Sensitivity," p. L. Some of the children's books spun off from the film do add the "live alone" lesson to the conclusion of mother's death scene. In this case, Bambi's father tells him that his mother cannot be with him and adds, "You must learn to walk alone." Walt Disney's Bambi, A Big Golden Book (New York: Golden Books, 1984), p. 11. See also Walt Disney, Bambi (New York: Gallery Books, 1989), p. 51; Jan Carr, Walt Disney's Classic, Bambi (New York: Scholastic, 1988), p. 46.
23. Bambi: A Listening Story Lesson (Glendale, California: Walt Disney Educational Products, 1970), Record No. LS-6. Walt Disney Educational Products did not respond to my letter asking if they were aware of the problem with the opossums and whether they had any material for teachers to help counteract this misinformation.
24. Charles W. Schwartz and Elizabeth R. Schwartz, The Wild Mammals of Missouri (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1959), p. 21; George H. Lowery, Jr., Mammals of Louisiana and its Adjacent Waters (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1974), pp. 63, 64.
25. See, for example, Walt Disney's Bambi, A Little Golden Book (New York: Golden Books, 1984); Walt Disney's the Bambi Book, A Golden Super Shape Book (New York: Golden Books, 1987); Walt Disney, Bambi; Albert G. Miller, Walt Disney's Bambi Gets Lost (New York: Random House, 1972); Walt Disney's Bambi: Friends of the Forest, A Little Golden Book (New York: Golden Books, 1975); and "Bambi to the Rescue" in Disney's Two-Minute Good Night Stories, Mary Packard (New York: Golden Books, 1988).
26. Richard Schickel, The Disney Version: The Life, Times, Art and Commerce of Walt Disney, revised and updated version (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1985), p. 176; Johnston and Thomas, Walt Disney's Bambi, pp. 106-25 ff. See, for example, the "handcarved wood reindeer family" shown in the cover illustration on the Lillian Vernon Corporation (Virginia Beach, Virginia) 1990 Christmas mail order catalog. All three figures, two adults (one with antlers) and a fawn, sport spots. See also the reindeer ornaments in the "CARE Package Catalog: Volume One" (Holmes, Pennsylvania), [Fall 1991].
27. Johnston and Thomas, Walt Disney's Bambi, pp. 123-25, 160; Elizabeth A. Lawrence, "Neoteny in American Perceptions of Animals" in Perceptions of Animals in American Culture, ed. R. J. Hoage (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989), p. 72. See also Stephen Jay Gould, "Mickey Mouse Meets Konrad Lorenz," Natural History 88 (May 1979): 30, 32, 34, 36; Elizabeth A. Lawrence, "In the Mick of Time: Reflections on Disney's Ageless Mouse," Journal of Popular Culture 20 (Fall 1986): 65-72; Harold A. Herzog, Jr. and Gordon M. Burghardt, "Attitudes toward Animals: Origins and Diversity" in Animals and People Sharing the World, ed. Andrew N. Rowan (Hanover, New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 1988), pp. 79-80.
28. By page count, Bambi is a fawn through 48 percent of Salten's book. In contrast, he is a fawn through 73 percent of the length of the video tape of the Disney film, not counting opening credits.
One reason for emphasizing Bambi as a fawn was that Disney's animators found it difficult to make adult deer "communicate effectively." "Adult deer still had not proven as successful as hoped, even when animated by the top men." Johnston and Thomas, Walt Disney's Bambi, p. 179. The problem probably flowed from the fact that they tried to draw the adults in a more naturalistic style than the fawns.
29. A Day in the Forest with Bambi and Thumper, Disney Little Q Storybook (Los Angeles, California: Price Stem Sloan, 1990); Walt Disney's Bambi: Friends of the Forest (New York: Golden Books, 1975).
30. Salten, Bambi, pp. 23-24; Reiger, "The Truth About Bambi," p. 12.
31. Salten, Bambi, pp. 128, 129, 154, 262-63, 105. Disney intended to include the autumn leaves dialogue in the film, but eventually cut it. All that remains is the image of two leaves falling from a branch just before the winter sequence. Storyboard sketches and dialogue for the Disney leaf scene appear in Field, The Art of Walt Disney, pp. 189-90, 191.
32. Walt Disney's Fairy Tales: Four Stories with Activities, A Deluxe Color/Activity Book (Racine, Wisconsin: Western Publishing Company, Golden Books, 1987); Walt Disney's Bambi, A Big Coloring Book (Racine, Wisconsin: Western Publishing Company, Golden Books, 1986); Walt Disney's Bambi (New York: Derrydale Books, 1988); Walt Disney's Story of Bambi, audio tape & booklet (Burbank, California: Disneyland/Vista Records and Tapes, 1977). Disney, Bambi (Burbank, California: Walt Disney Records, 1990) has a text identical to the previous audio tape/read-along booklet set, but features new artwork. Walt Disney, Bambi, p. 94.
33. J. Frederick Milton, presentation at a meeting of the Virginia Chapter of The Wildlife Society, Richmond, Virginia, 8 February 1991.
34. Kehr, "'Bambi' Handles Emotion with Maturity, Sensitivity", p. M; Philip Wuntch, "Innocence is Eternal in 1942's 'Bambi,"' Atlanta Journal and Constitution, I5 July 1988, P. B2; "Hot Heavies," People Weekly 30 (8 August 1988): 14.
35. Walt Disney's animators were guided by his description of a forest fire as "a very hungry beast that's out there devouring everything in its way." Johnston and Thomas, Walt Disney's Bambi, p. 165.
The emotional impressions evoked by the fire and the deer's flight to safety on an island in Disney's Bambi are similar to, although less horrifying than Red Fox's flight from a forest fire and escape to safety in a pond atop a beaver lodge in Charles G. D. Roberts' classic fire scene in Red Fox (Boston, Massachusetts: L. C. Page & Co., 1905), pp. 251-70. It would be interesting to know if Disney or his staff were familiar with Roberts' forest fire.
36. Salten, Bambi, p. 125.
37. Ibid., pp. 120-27. See Reiger, "The Truth About Bambi," for his analysis of the debate between Nettla and Marena.
38. Gobo was Faline's twin brother. He does not appear in the Disney version of Bambi, which portrays her as an only child. Salten, Bambi, pp. 142-48, 193-210, 229-33. In Felix Salten, Bambi's Children: The Story of a Forest Family (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1939), the sequel to Bambi, gamekeepers also rescued injured deer and released them when they regained their health. Salten, Bambi, p. 275.
Disney had explored including a version of this debate with the dog in the film. It would have appeared as part of the segment when the dogs were pursuing Faline. The woodland animals were to argue with the dogs and try to convince them to give up the chase. Johnston and Thomas, Walt Disney's Bambi, pp. 168- 69.
39. Salten, Bambi, pp. 285-87.
40. Johnston and Thomas, Walt Disney's Bambi, pp. 176-81. Sketches of the dead hunter appear on p. 178.
41. I am playing with ideas presented by Leo Marx in his book, The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America (London, England: Oxford University Press, 1964).
42. Johnston and Thomas, Walt Disney's Bambi, pp. 181, 183.
43. Manny Farber, "Saccharine Symphony," New Republic 106 (29 June 1942): 893-94; see also Schickel, The Disney Version, pp. 267-68; and Kenneth MacGowan, "Make Mine Disney: A Review," Hollywood Quarterly 1 (1945/46): 376-77. Elizabeth Leebron and Lynn Gartley, Walt Disney: A Guide to References and Resources (Boston, Massachusetts: G. K. Hall and Company, 1979), p. 25; Susan Sackett, The Hollywood Reporter Book of Box Office Hits (New York: Billboard Books, 1990), pps. 36, 330-33; Dennis Hunt, "'Roger Rabbit,' 'Bambi' on Video this Fall," Los Angeles Times, 9 June 1989, part 6, p. 16; Leonard Klady, "'Bambi' was Real Box Office Champ in 1988," Boston Globe, 7 January 1989, p. 14. Rental income figures, the fees paid by theaters to distributors, are the most consistently available data for long term comparisons. Figures for gross sales (box office receipts on ticket sales) are, naturally, higher.
44. Hunt, "'Roger Rabbit', 'Bambi' on Video this Fall,"; Rhonda L. Rundle, "Disney to Launch Two Home Videos at $60 Million Cost," Wall Street Journal, 9 June 1989, p. B3; "'Bambi' Making Television Debut Tonight," Greensboro News & Record, 3 February 1991, p. H2; "Bambi," Hotel Cable Guide, February 1991, p. 4.
45. Cecil Munsey, Disneyana: Walt Disney Collectibles (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1974).
46. Harry L. Rinker, ed., Warman's Americana & Collectibles, 2d ed. (Radnor, Pennsylvania: Wallace- Homestead Book Co.), p. 168; A Disney Christmas Gift (Burbank, Califorma: Walt Disney Home Video, n.d. ); "Bambi: A Lesson in Perseverance," Disney Educational Productions, 1990: Film and Video Catalog (Deerfield, Illinois: Coronet/ MTI Film & Video, 1990), p. 29. Most of the information in this paragraph is derived from Library of Congress catalog data, Disney catalogs, and items found in stores.
47. People Weekly 30 (19 September 1988): 103; Rich Roberts, "Now Bambi Has a Beeper," Los Angeles Times, 12 April 1989, part 3, p. 8; Clarence Peterson, "In Praise of Passing the Buck," Chicago Tribune, 8 March 1987, p. T1; "Dubious Achievements of 1990," Esquire 115 (January 1991): 78.
48. Victor Koshkin-Youritzin, "Getting Rid of Bambi," Art News 77 (September 1977): 155; John Glenn, "Featured Speaker," Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 22 July 1988, p. C17; Johnny Carson, "Tonight Show," 28 February 1991, NBC.
49. Stephen J. Pyne, Fire in America (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1988), p. 176; Francine Schwadel, "For his Next Stunt, Evel Knievel will jump a Pile of Unsold Prints," Wall Street Journal, 8 July 1985, p. 15; Howie Carr, "Oh Deer, Time to Dodge Hunters in it for the Doe," (Boston) Record American, 5 December 1985; "20 Questions: Kiefer Sutherland," Playboy (October 1990): 125.
50. Ringel, "Want to Pat Bambi, Marry Cinderella?" p. M1.
51. Daniel Conner, "We say 'Two Paws Up' to these," Sierra 75 (March/April 1990): 19; "Bambi," People Weekly 18 (2 August 1982): 17.
52. See Aaron Honori Katcher and Alan M. Beck, "Health and Caring for Living Things" in Animals and People Sharing the World, pp. 67-68.