NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, September 25th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Next up: the WORLD History Book. Fifteen years ago, SpaceX takes off. And 50 years ago, the supersonic Concorde crosses the Atlantic in record time. But first, the 100th anniversary of a story about a deer and life in the woods. Here’s WORLD Executive Producer, Paul Butler.
PAUL BUTLER, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: In 1942, after five years in production, Disney releases its 5th animated feature film: Bambi:
AUDIO: Walt Disney, the world's greatest storyteller brings the world's greatest love story to the screen.
Disney’s film is based loosely on Bambi, A Life in the Woods by Jewish author Felix Salten, published in 1923. The animated retelling reduces the tale to a love story—with a strong anti-hunting message. But the original book is a much more compelling coming of age story, and what a young buck can learn from his parents. Audio here from a Chapter Book Story Time video posted on the Caribou Public Library YouTube channel.
AUDIO: He came into the world in the middle of a thicket, in one of those hidden forest glades which seem to be entirely open but are really screened in on all sides.
The setting of Salten’s story comes from the forests around Vienna. Often seen as a children’s book, Bambi, A Life in the Woods wasn’t initially intended for young audiences. Many creatures in the book die—and not just at the hands of man. As Salten was an avid sportsman, the story is not intended as a general critique of hunting.
The book is filled with imaginative conversations with woodland animals, insects, and birds…leading many to claim it as one of the first environmental novels. But many literary critics see it instead as an allegory for Jewish life in Europe during the early 20th century. Adolf Hitler saw it that way and banned the book in 1936. When the Nazis took over Austria, Salten fled to Zurich, Switzerland.
At times, the story seems a not-so-subtle critique of religion and God. In one scene, a hound corners a wounded fox. The woodland creatures call him a traitor for serving “Him” or man. The hound replies:
AUDIO: I worship Him, I serve Him. Do you think you can oppose Him, He’s all-powerful. He’s above all of the rest of you. Everything we have comes from Him. Everything that lives or grows comes from Him.
Then the dog shakes the fox to death.
But there are also strong reminders that the evil crashing into the forest is not what God intended. That someday, as Isaiah chapter 11 promises, the lion and lamb will lie down together.
AUDIO: They say that sometime he’ll come to live with us and be as gentle as we are. He’ll play with us, and the whole forest will be happy, and we’ll be friends with him.
Toward the end of the story, the now mature Bambi and his father come upon a poacher who’s died in the woods. Bambi had thought men were all powerful. That they were to be feared above all else. But the old stag teaches Bambi otherwise.
AUDIO: There was a silence. “Do you understand me Bambi?” asked the old stag. “I think so,” Bambi said in a whisper. “Then speak,” the old stag commanded. Bambi was inspired and said trembling, “There is Another who is over us all over us and over Him.”
Simon and Shuster published an English translation of the story by Whittaker Chambers in 1928. Chambers’ translation is the most well known, but it’s not always true to the original German text. The story was well received by American critics and readers alike, selling 650,000 copies by 1942. Disney’s adaptation had a slow start, but it’s still one of the top 20 highest grossing animated films of all time.
Next, September 26th, 1973.
NEWSREEL: 193 feet long 38 feet tall with a wingspan of 84 feet.
After nearly twenty years of planning and testing, the Concorde supersonic jet makes its first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic in record-breaking time…three hours and 32 minutes.
PROMOTIONAL FILM: With its long slender fuselage and sculpture delta wing is the shape of high design technology.
Even though the distinctive looking plane with the lowered nose cone has been flying since 1969, it doesn’t actually begin carrying commercial passengers until 1976, as many fliers are uncomfortable with the idea of traveling that fast.
AUDIO: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. As soon as we've cleared the coast, which will begin our acceleration to supersonic speed.
But Concorde’s success is relatively short lived. Each plane can only carry about 100 passengers. And as Concorde burns more than 6700 gallons of jet fuel every transcontinental flight—it’s extremely expensive to fly. As the airline industry changes in the 80’s and 90’s, shrinking margins make it impossible to stay afloat. Then, a devastating accident in 2000 ends the lives of 113 people, leading British Airways and Air France to retire the program in 2003.
STEWARDESS: I wish you a safe journey, and thank you for choosing the British Airways Concorde. Thank you for flying with us.
Finally today, a supersonic breakthrough of another sort…
LAUNCH AUDIO: 3, 2, 1, 0. We have lift-off.
On September 28th, 2008, SpaceX successfully launches a Falcon 1 rocket into orbit from the South Pacific.
LAUNCH AUDIO: [CELEBRATION]
With the launch, Falcon 1 becomes the first privately-developed, fully liquid-fueled launch vehicle to enter orbit.
Three previous test launches failed, putting the program at risk. After the September 28th success, Musk struggles to find the words to express his relief.
MUSK: It's the culmination of a dream. It's just kind of mind blowing, actually. I mean, my nervous system almost got fried. Just watching that that flight. So you know, it's ah, yeah, wow.
NASA awards a contract to SpaceX shortly after the launch—injecting more than one and a half billion dollars into the company.
SpaceX retired its Falcon 1 platform in 2009 to focus on its larger orbital rocket: the Falcon 9. Its Dragon spacecraft has made 10 successful crewed visits to the International Space station. And Musk is currently testing his Starship vehicle and delivery system with dreams of sending manned missions to Mars by the end of the decade.
That’s this week’s WORLD History Book. I’m Paul Butler.
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