Tuesday 15 February 2011

Project Disney: Hello Friends

The next period in Project Disney sees a slight detour off the path of what we all perceive to be Classic Disney. In the 40s, Disney released their so-called 'package films' due to a shortage of staff resulting from the war effort and the immediate aftermath. The most important one of these is probably the first one. Saludos Amigos was the result of an ambassadorial mission to South America funded by the US State department. Disney animation was well received in Latin America so the government felt they should be used to try and counteract the Nazi ties that existed on the continent. The notes and inspirations became Saludos Amigos and it's 1944 follow up - The Three Caballeros. The story of the trip is documented in the documentary Walt And El Grupo which I aim to cover in a bonus post when all 6 package films are complete.

With the backstory dealt with, I can move onto the actual movie. I have not checked, but at 40 minutes, this might be the shortest of the Disney Classics. Being a package movie, it is made up of four short animations inspired by Latin America with live action footage in between each one showing the animators on their trip. The movie is narrated in Portuguese with subtitles provided.

  1. Lake Titicaca - In this short, Donald Duck plays an American tourist basically getting to grips with the local culture.

  2. Pedro - In true Disney fashion, they used an inanimate object as the focal character. Pedro is a small plane who takes overthe mail delivery duties from his father. The short follows his trip through the Andes in a storm.

  3. El Gaucho Goofy - Goofy portrays an American cowboy who is transported to the pampas to experiance what it is like to be his Argentinian equivalent.

  4. Aquarela do Brasil - This is the one the previous three were building to. It embodies all the elements you assosciate with South America. Key to this are bright colours, the sounds and samba dancing. It follows Donald Duck being shown the latin dance from José Carioca, the "dapper Brazilian parrot" created specifically for South American audiences.

I'll be honest, I didn't like this one. Short no 4 was refreshing but I felt the preceding three were a bit labourious regardless of their runtime. I would maybe give it another viewing in the future but for now, it wasn't for me.
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