CHF: Bambi’s Jewish Roots

This lecturer gives a clear understanding to (as the title suggests) the Jewish roots of the book, and Disney film, Bambi.

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Felix Salten truly believed that forest animals had cognitional abilities, and he had a strong relationship with these animals by hunting them. Contrary to “other ‘nature lovers,'” Salten went out into the woods in rain and snow, not just the nice sunny days. More than this, however, the lecturer spoke about Felix Salten’s Jewish Cultural Zionist views as an Austrian Jew. Felix Salten was the author of Bambi: A Life In the Woods, and wrote it as an allegory to the life of a Jew in Austria at that time. He also gives weight to the antisemitism which took root in the U.S. (which never finds itself free from racism in any respect), and how this affected the film industry’s changing a Jewish allegory into a strictly anti-hunting film.

Walt Disney, being antisemitic, in a sense, and also abhorring hunting, turned this book around to make it an anti-hunting movie when it was made. However, at its roots, Bambi: A Life In the Woods, almost a direct allegory for Jewish people. Jewish people, in literature worldwide, are often portrayed as deer, and this novel is no different. Also, actual events happening in Nazi Germany directly reflected the book. When the Nazi party rose to power, for example is when Salten wrote that Bambi was shot by a hunter (the hunters are other people: oppressors of Jews). As might be expected, this book is deeper and can be read into much more than a kids’ book/movie might suggest. At one point in the book, Bambi asks an older, wiser deer if humans and animals would ever live together in peace and harmony. The response was that, logically, no. Humans and animals had never lived in harmony in the past and seemingly never will in the future.

This is a sad statement that Bambi, a young deer, must endure. I believe that, as Walt Disney may have been trying to hide, Salten was posing a challenge, in a round-a-bout way, for us to prove wrong that “wise” old deer and to live in harmony with each other. I believe it can be done.

Will we rise to the challenge?

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