Animal Liberation in
the 1940s and 1950s
What Disney Does for the
Animal Rights Movement
Bambi is arguably a film that vilifies hunting and the human hunters who burn down the animals’ forest, thus perhaps valorizing the rights of animals more forcefully than those of man. But the film also advocates for animal rights based on these animals’ humanlike qualities, helping them build a community of family and friends in a protected forest free from human intervention. Despite the film’s clear argument favoring at least some elements of nonhuman nature, such a position may conflict with tenets of the environmental movement.
This conflict between animal rights and environmentalism is also reflected in popular culture from the 1940s, when Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac was first published. Walt Disney films from the 1940s and 1950s are no exception. According to Rebecca Raglon and Marian Scholtmeijer, “Advocates for nonhuman animals note the similarities between human and other animal spe-