Azalea's Reviews > Bambi: Eine Lebensgeschichte aus dem Walde

Bambi by Felix Salten
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's review
Mar 29, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: animal-fantasy, children-and-ya, read-in-german, favourites, the-movie-was-worse, pretty-cover, coming-of-age
Read from March 29 to 31, 2012

It's Bambi, for Chrissakes! You all know what happens! Luckily, the original book by an Austrian author has not so much to do with its re-incarnation by Disney in the 1940s. Where Disney serves you sappiness and cute cartoon animals, Salten gives you poetry and sensibility, a deep understanding of nature.

The plot is very simple. Roe deer Bambi grows up in the forest. The reader grows up with him, learns to survive by the side of his mother and his friends, by the wise advice from his elusive father and by occasionally very brutal experience. You thought Bambi's mother's death in the movie was traumatizing? Boy, this book does not spare with gore. And why should it? Life is tough as an animal living in a forest roamed frequently by human hunters.

The atmosphere is vivid. The forest is alive and breaths, trees and flowers and a multitude of animals are described in loving detail, giving proof that the author has done his research (although both Bambi the book and movie are used as anti-hunting propaganda, Salten was a passionate hunter himself). All animals talk - peacocks and butterflies among them -, and a short chapter about two leafs(!) talking about autumn approaching is especially outstanding. The Christian allegory is in the book, but even non-religious persons can read it, I assure. He, Man, is described too, and Bambi's first encounter with him is terrifying. And we are talking about a description of a human face. You know. We have one of these. It's, it's right there, right in your face. And yet Salten managed it to creep me out. Brilliant.

Plotwise, book and movie are alike for the first two thirds, although Disney dishes out the childfriendly and americanized version, changing Bambi from a Roe deer into a White-tailed Deer. The last third fundamentally differs, as Disney omited Gobo completely. Gobo is another deer Bambi grows up with and who (view spoiler) The death toll is generally very high in this book. As soon as you realize that Man is approaching, you are awaiting some more useless (out of the animal's view) gore.

Where the movie conveniently ends with Bambi becoming the new Prince of the Forest, Salten shows us Bambi aged significantly. Roe deer usually live in small groups or even solitary, and this is what Bambi does. That's some really deep stuff here, which will be completely lost by a child reading this, and it will cause heartache to any adult reader. It's the definite death of Bambi's childhood, as he is unable to connect with his childhood friends or his (I guess we can call it so...?) mate Faline. Or even his own (alleged?) children. It really broke my heart, but it's so beautiful, this melancholy. I am glad I received my version with the beautiful cover picture. There are other editions with overly cutesy covers, but the silhouette of a fawn stalking among silhouettes of trees with the diffuse forest lights in the background simply fits perfectly.

The age of this book gives it some extra charm points with its outdated language which fits the overall naive, yet extremely poetic tone. It is however never complex or elaborate, and thus turns it into a quick and easy read - which takes absolutely nothing from its beauty and profoundness.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Ball Very nice review. I was just curious where you found that Salten was a hunter- there is hardly anything I can read about him online, and I've been looking for more about his life (or, even hopefully, a biography?)

Azalea Bryan wrote: "Very nice review. I was just curious where you found that Salten was a hunter- there is hardly anything I can read about him online, and I've been looking for more about his life (or, even hopefull..."

Thank you!

I simply looked him up in Wikipedia. As he was from Austria, there is a German entry for him. I'm not sure if there is any in English. Maybe you can dig your way through the Wiki page of the Disney movie. He should be referenced there as original author of the story.

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