Piers Torday

The dark story behind Bambi, the book Hitler banned

Felix Salten’s original work is far removed from the Disney version, being an allegory of Nazi persecution in a grimly ironic woodland paradise

Illustration from Bambi by Alenka Sottler. [Alenka Sottler]

The extent of Walt Disney’s grasp of the natural world remains unclear. After the Austrian author Felix Salten sold the rights to his 1923 bestseller Bambi for a paltry $1,000, Walt is reputed to have suggested myriad unhelpful plot additions to the simple story. ‘Suppose we have Bambi step on an ant hill,’ he offered at one script meeting, ‘and then cut away to see all the damage he’s done to the ant civilisation?’

His writers knew better.

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