Monday, June 8, 2009

The Disney Animated Canon: Anthology Pictures, part one

#7: "Saludos Amigos" A decidedly odd film, this was really more of a travelogue intended to inspire solidarity between North and South America. It and the semi-sequel "The Three Caballeros" are actually often called "The Goodwill Films" by fans.
Ending just short of 42 minutes, this is almost impressively brief. It's a fun curiosity however. The "Aquarela do Brasil" is every bit as good as "Fantasia" (and I still have the song in my head) and we also get to see the wonderful production artwork of Mary Blair. Doing this project made me into a big fan of hers.
As with most of the Anthologies, fellow Disney Channel brats will recall the segments being shown as individual cartoons.

#8: "Victory Through Air Power" This was the strangest and most obscure movie I reviewed during this project.
Many Disney fans have never even heard of it. Those that do know about probably passed it over as the most dated of the Disney movies. Either that or they can't get past the idea of what amounts to an animated documentary.
I thought it was fascinating. It is indeed a documentary and the animation is used to illustrate various concepts (it will remind fellow early Disney Channel brats of those weird, sci-fi "Journey to Mars" specials shown on old episodes of "The Wonderful World of Disney"; as a matter of fact, I recognized scenes in this movie from those shows). Starting with a brief history of aviation, the documentary goes on to explain how crucial flight and geography were during World War Two.
This results in, really, the first straight-up action movie in western animation. I heartily recommend it to history buffs and (this is the Education Major in me) to high school students. You can find it in the "Walt Disney on the Front Lines" boxed set. The set also includes a number of Wartime cartoons. Certainly, Warner Bros. wartime cartoons are much better known, but the Disney ones are quite good as well. They tend to have a darker humor than Disney is usually known for.

#9: "The Three Caballeros" Or, "Donald's Wacky Peyote Trip!"
You cannot convince me that's not what's going on in the last twenty minutes or so.
In all seriousness, this is a cult hit and I can see why. It's probably the weirdest Disney movie of this era.
With these compilation films, you can tell that without such a silly little thing as a cohesive plot the animators got a chance to really cut loose. I just love the film's "Screw you, logic, we draw what we want!"
Furthermore, Donald is awesome. (Though I have to say, the Acapulco beach scene is fairly unsettling. It used to confuse the heck out of me as a little kid. What would Daisy say?)

#10: "Song of the South" Along with the other Loose Ends, gets it's own big, long essay.

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Next post, we'll finish the Anthology Features. For more posts in this series, go here, or click the Chronological Disney Animated Canon tag below.

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