Research and Analysis on Walt Disney´s Film: Song of the South

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Walt Disney’s Song of the South (Jackson & Foster, 1946) is probably one of the least known films from the wildly successful company. The film tells the story of Uncle Remus—an African-American former slave—who tells the stories of Br’er Rabbit and his friends to children, some of which are white. The film is separated into segments which include live action, animation and a blend of both. The films animated sequences included catchy songs such as “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah and Everybody’s Got a Laughin’ Place” which accompanied the lessons that were taught, which are still popular and in use by the company today. The stories were borrowed from Joel Chandler Harris’s books about Uncle Remus who narrates African-American folk tales. The representation of African-American and white relationships has lead to a discussion of the film as an example of a racist text. Since its initial release conversation of the film as racist persists and as a result has lead to the film being tucked firmly away in the Disney vault—“Disney has declined to release the film on video in the U.S., fearing an outcry over the crude stereotypes. Song of the South was plagued with notions of racism from its inception, based on the stereotypes used, initial drafts of the script, and outspoken opinions by organizations which preceded the film. However, the film was not intended to convey racist imagery and perpetuate the notion of racism, but to share the stories of Uncle Remus with a new generation.
My initial idea for this paper was to focus on the technical aspects of the film—the hybrid of animation and live action. I first saw this technique used in The Three Caballeros (Ferguson & Young, 1944) and was going to research this film, but the amount of literature on t...

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...Vault and probably won’t see the light of day for a very long time—if ever. In fact, the controversy has been so much of a spectacle for Disney that they do not even acknowledge the films existence in its parks or in compilation videos. Splash Mountain is based off of the film and only bears resemblance in the inclusion of the Br’er characters and some of the musical accompaniment. I think further research could be done on how Walt Disney himself felt about the making of the film and the controversy surrounding it. I think that it would bode well to look into this aspect and maybe shed some light on this aspect of the film as opposed to the controversial aspect which will always garner more attention. In the end Walt Disney’s favored childhood stories made it to the big screen and was subsequently shut down, leaving many to wonder, what else is hidden in that vault?

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