Hello, and welcome back to my thoughts and musings. Today I take a look at one of the most famous Disney movies to not be released on DVD in the United States.
Walt Disney’s Song of the South opened in theaters on November 12, 1946. A combination of live actions scenes with animated sequences in between, the movie was based on the works of Joel Chandler Harris. This would be the first live action film Disney has produced.
The animated sequences introduce the character of Brer Fox and Brer Bear, who want to capture the wily Brer Rabbit. Brer Rabbit is able to use his cleverness to escape from the clutches of the fox and bear and introduces the memorable song Laughing Place while doing so.
The live action is where the “trouble” with the movie comes into play. Uncle Remus, played by James Baskett tells the stories of Brer Rabbit to Johnny and Ginny (Bobby Driscoll and Luana Patten) . The issue is that the movie takes place in the post Civil War South, and Uncle Remus and the other African-American are living harmoniously on the same property as their former Caucasian “owners”. Song of the South shows a culture of everyone accepting their lot in life and not wanting to strive for anything better, because as Uncle Remus says at one point “You can’t run away from your troubles. There ain’t no place that far.”
Because of the racial overtones and sensitivities related to this issue, Disney has not released Song of the South in North America since 1986. Yet, it has been released internationally and it is possible to purchase copies of the DVD on sites such as Ebay.
Still, it is a part of Disney history, and it deserves to be released from the Disney archives for the public to view. Disney itself has not turned its back on Song of the South, as it is very prominent in its parks and on CD releases. Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah is almost an anthem of the Disney theme parks, as each day is “my oh my what a wonderful day” in the advertisements and promotions released.
Let’s not overlook the theme park attractions. Splash Mountain is based off of the movie, as guests are “thrown” into the Briar Patch by Brer Fox at the end of the plume ride.
Disney has decided it is permissible to embrace and promote the animated portions of Song of the South while ignoring the life action portions of the movie. This is a film that could promote discussion and growth, but in order for that to happen, it needs to be released by Disney. Disney, I ask you not hide from the past, but release the works that have been created so it can be consumed by the public, so we can decide what is and is not good for us.
For the record, this is a movie I have personally wanted released since I first went on Splash Mountain in 1992 at Disneyland. I was so inspired by the ride I read all of Joel Chandler Harris’ works. I started this blog with the intent of bringing back the vintage Disney Channel shows, but Song of the South was in the back of my mind at the same time. I still hold out hope it will be released someday.
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