Five Fascinating Facts about Bambi

Fun facts about Bambi, the children’s book on which the classic Disney film was based

1. The classic Disney film Bambi was based on a largely forgotten book. Bambi: A Life in the Woods was written by Felix Salten (born Siegmund Salzmann), an Austrian author, and published in 1926. A perhaps surprisingly fact, given that Salten would go on to pen a children’s classic, is that he was also the probable author of an anonymously published erotic novel, Josephine Mutzenbacher – The Life Story of a Viennese Whore, as Told by Herself, which appeared twenty years before his Bambi book.

2. The Nazis didn’t like Salten’s book one bit. In 1936, Salten’s Bambi was added to the growing book pyres in Felix SaltenNazi Germany, largely because they saw it as an allegory for what was going on in Europe (and specifically what the Nazis were doing in Europe).

3. Disney bought the rights to Salten’s book for just $5,000. Salten fled to Hollywood shortly after the public burning of his book, where he was given the rather paltry sum of $5,000 for his novel.

4. In the original novel, Bambi walks out on his family at the end of the book. Salten’s novel is altogether darker than the Disney film version of his book. At one point in Bambi: A Life in the Woods, Bambi sees a dead human body and realises that the men who are hunting him and his family are also out to destroy each other. This is obviously removed from the Disney film, and instead Bambi’s sidekick, the rabbit Thumper, is brought in. At the end of the Disney film, Bambi and Faline, the love of his life, start a family together, but in Salten’s book Bambi leaves his lover and their little fawns. (Like father, like son: Bambi’s father had walked out on the family when Bambi was young.)

5. Salten wrote a sequel to his book. It’s a little-known fact that Salten followed his first Bambi book with a sequel, though the sequel was never adapted for the big screen. Bambi’s Children focuses on the adventures of Bambi’s twin children, Geno and Gurri. Salten wrote the sequel while living in exile in Switzerland, having been driven out of Austria by the Nazis. It was published in English before it appeared in Salten’s native language: it was published in the United States in 1939 but the German-language version only appeared in 1940.

Image: Author Felix Salten in Vienna, c. 1910 (author: Ferdinand Schmutzer), Wikimedia Commons.


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  2. I have never read Bambi but I enjoyed movie when as growing up. I agree that Disney has a way of softening stories – the Little Mermaid is a prime example – no less enjoyable, just different.

  3. Bambi was one of the first books I read that Disney had used as a basis. It was quite an awakening on how a story could be so altered. It was much, much darker than the film as you stated. I went through a long phase in grade school where I sought out and read the book basis of the films I’d grown up. The Little Mermaid is one of the darkest and saddest stories out there very much not like the Disney fable.

  4. Bambi was my first experience with the Disneyfication of a novel (The Jungle Book was my second). I read the book as a child and loved it, then my mom bought the movie on tape when they released it because she’d seen it in the theaters. I hated the movie(s) because I’d read the book(s) and it was so completely different. When I got older, I was able to appreciate the movie and the book as separate entities, but as a child… I really disliked Disney for ruining my favorite stories.

  5. here fact what interest monkey. 1st english edition of bambi have illustration by mr kurt wiese who = illustrator of freddy the pig series by mr walter r brooks.