The Disney Films That Never Were: The 1943 Sequel To BAMBI - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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The Disney Films That Never Were: The 1943 Sequel To BAMBI

Because children weren't traumatised enough by the first one...

Arriving in 1942, the fifth Disney animated feature film Bambi has certainly had some legacy. That scene, you know that scene, let's not go over it, has been cited by people like Paul McCartney as sparking his initial interest in animal rights. On the other side of the argument, a 1942 edition of the magazine Outdoor Life carried an editorial stating that Bambi was "... the worst insult ever offered in any form to American sportsmen." Either way, whatever your thoughts on the film, Walt and his team of animators were just closely following the story of the 1923 book Bambi, a Life in the Woods by Austrian author Felix Salten.

While living in exile in Switzerland, after being forced to flee Nazi-occupied Austria, Salten wrote a sequel to Bambi that follows the birth and lives of Bambi's twin offspring, Geno and Gurri. Walt looked to adapt this tale as a sequel to Bambi as soon as the year after the original film's release.

The story follows the young fawns as they interact with various deer, and are educated and watched over by Bambi and Faline as they grow. They also learn more about the ways of man, including both hunters and the gamekeeper seeking to protect the deer.

In its original 1939 German language publication, the content of Bambi’s Children is more violent, even gorier than that of Bambi, A Life in the Woods. It also included a section depicting the mating season of the moose. But violent depictions of killings, mutilated and mating animals were toned down or removed entirely from the 1940 English translation so that it appeared gentler than that of Bambi. Which way Disney would've gone with their proposed animated cinematic sequel is unknown, although one can't help but speculate some kind of 'learning moment' would've been included.

So why didn't Disney's proposed sequel get past the planning stage? It may well have something to do with the box office take for Bambi itself.

At a budget of $858,000, Bambi has gone on to earn Walt Disney Studios over $267million, but it came out of the gate spluttering. Released in August 1942, at the height of World War II, Bambi did not perform as well as hoped. Roy O. Disney sent a telegram to his brother Walt after the New York opening of the film that read:
"Fell short of our holdover figure by $4,000. Just came from Music Hall. Unable to make any deal to stay third week ... Night business is our problem."
Indeed, no one wanted to go out at night. Movie theaters were struggling and many a film faulted. Fortunately Disney's productions have a lasting legacy and a variety of re-releases contributed to that huge final figure.

So Bambi's Children wasn't to be a Disney Classic on screen but it did appear in print. Although it's safe to say that Felix Salten himself was not a fan of the thought of having his work translated from his original tome to a Walt Disney illustrated storybook. He had long not wanted to be identified merely a children's author, and wrote to his American publisher:
“At this time I beg you most urgently, quite apart from softenings, not to advertise my work as a children’s book or to launch it otherwise in such a way.”

The request to the publisher, Bobbs-Merrill, fell on deaf ears and in 1943 they licenced the rights to Dell Comics to publish a Walt Disney Productions illustrated storybook of Bambi's Children.

Of course, Bambi did eventually get a Disney animated sequel, but that would arrive over 60 years later...

Released in 2006, Bambi II is set in the middle part of Bambi (just after that scene) and showed the Great Prince of the Forest struggling to raise the motherless *sob* Bambi. While the film suffers from being one of Disney's many direct-to-video productions from that era, it is notable for having Patrick Stewart as the voice of the Great Prince of the Forest, and for officially being the last Disney animated film to be released on VHS.

The 1930s & 40s Live Action Alice In Wonderland

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