‘Bambi’ Is Getting a Horror Adaptation—Long Live the Public Domain
Thanks to the blessed gift that is public domain, the people behind the recent horror movie Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey are going to take their vision over to Bambi.
Director Scott Jeffrey told Dread Central that he will be directing a dark retelling Bambi. “The film will be an incredibly dark retelling of the 1928 story we all know and love,” Jeffrey said. “Bambi will be a vicious killing machine that lurks in the wilderness. Prepare for Bambi on rabies!”
The novel Bambi, which was written by avid Austrian hunter Felix Salten, is now in the public domain because U.S. copyright law is “usually” limited to the life of the author plus 70 years, and Salten died in 1945. Salten’s work was also banned during the Nazi regime because he was Jewish. Salten fled Austria and spent the rest of his life in Switzerland. A new translation of Bambi has presented the novel explicitly as a parable about persecution against Jewish people in Europe.
As a Guardian article said in 2021: “a new translation seeks to reassert the rightful place of Felix Salten’s 1923 masterpiece in adult literature and shine a light on how Salten was trying to warn the world that Jews would be terrorised, dehumanised and murdered in the years to come.”
The article quotes noted fairy tale literary critic, Professor Jack Zipes, as saying: “what happens to Bambi at the end of the novel has been concealed, to a certain extent, by the Disney corporation taking over the book and making it into a pathetic, almost stupid film about a prince and a bourgeois family.” He continued: “It is a book about survival in your own home.”
While this is not the version we’ll be getting from Jeffrey, it is still interesting that we keep seeing fairy tales and children’s stories getting a dark twist. I think we should do an eat-the-rich version of The Great Gatsby, which just entered the Public Domain last year. The Sun Also Rises, but from the perspective of the bulls. The Secret Garden but as a gothic horror where Mary Lennox gets better by slowly becoming one with the garden. I love playing with the macabre elements in children’s stories, but I want them to be more inventive than just Bambi with rabies. Most children’s books are sad and depressing. Hell, even the Disney version of Bambi is a depressing as hell story that’s all about parental loss, abandonment, adultification, and living your entire life hunted by man. And that’s without bringing an antisemitic parable reading into the conversation.
In addition to the Bambi horror story, we also have The Mean One on the horizon, a dark parody of Dr. Seuss’s The Grinch from director Steven LaMorte, coming out Dec 15th. The plot: “The sinister twist is that The Mean One ‘butchered’ the parents of Cindy You-Know-Who, a play on ‘Grinch’ protagonist Cindy Lou Who, two decades ago. Cindy returns to ‘seek closure’ for her parents’ death, only to find The Mean One hasn’t lost his murderous thirst, or urge ‘to carve the roast beast.'”
(via USA Today, image: Disney)
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