Like many older adults, the story of Bambi followed me through my childhood, beginning with the original book, Bambi, A Life in the Woods, first published in English in 1928, long before I was born. This was an adult novel, and the grim aspects of the story were at the forefront. While the animals were imbued with our most generous and endearing human qualities, the humans were portrayed as greedy, destructive hunters and disrespectful of the animals’ forest home. In 1942, Walt Disney produced the animated film as a story for children, softening the hard lessons of the novel, but not eliminating them. Since then, over 200 editions of the novel have been published, and it has been translated into over 30 languages. As a child, I had the two vinyl recordings of the movie score, along with a companion picture book. I sat on the floor beside my little record player listening to them over and over while reading along.
When my father took me out into the woods to learn to shoot a gun, not unusual for Texans, he pointed to a rabbit as my target. After I pulled that trigger, I went to kneel beside the panting creature I had shot and saw Thumper. I knew I would never shoot a gun again, certainly not at anything alive. I don’t think I am alone in learning from Bambi that animals share our human feelings, at least our better ones, and that we humans could learn a lot from them if we just paid attention. Here are some of my favorite quotes from Bambi’s friends in the forest:
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” –Thumper
“It can happen to anybody. So, you’d better be careful, it can happen to you.” –Friend Owl
“If you’re scared, just be scarier than whatever is scaring you.” --Thumper
“I’m always with you, even when you can’t see me, I am here.” --Bambi’s mother
And to close, a contemporary message for our times, “Nearly everybody gets twitterpated in the springtime … And then you know what, you’re knocked for a loop and then you completely lose your head.” –Friend Owl