Sunday, December 27, 2009

Walt Disney Animation Studios Part 6: Saludos Amigos

Series Intro:
Here's Part 6 of this multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors. They'll mostly be in release date order, save for those that aren't available on DVD at Netflix. (Numbers will be skipped to note missing movies)

Some background info (compiled from Wikipedia and imdb and my own knowledge of the movie).

Official Title: Saludos Amigos (in English: Hello Friends)
Release: August 24, 1942 (Brazil, just 11 days after Bambi!)
Running Time: 43 minutes (and I thought Bambi was short)
Estimated Cost: Can't find any figures but the whole cost was underwritten by the US government
Estimated Revenue: No info available, other than "highly successful"
Overall Rating: 1 stars out of 5

Plot Summary: We follow Walt Disney Animation Studios cartoonists as they travel throughout the South America. While we watch live action shots of the the cartoonists, a narrator tells us all about what we are seeing. Then the plot breaks away and heads to various cartoons depicting some of the places the cartoonists have been.

"Lake Titicaca" follows Donald Duck as he visits this mountain lake. Various Donald-esqu trouble happens.
"Pedro" follows Pedro, a mail carrying, child-like, airplane as he has to cross the Ande's mountains.
"El Gaucho Goof" follows Goofy as he is transformed into a an Argentinian Gaucho (cowboy).
"Aquarela do Brazil" (Watercolor of Brazil) follows Donald as he meets Brazilian local parot Jose Carioca and they dance the night away all around Brazil.

Aquarela do Brasil, Saludos Amigos and Tico Tico No Fuba

All wonderful for moving the plot along; but memorable... I think not. I can't even recall the lyrics or melody for the Academy Award Nominated song "Saludos Amigos"

Plot Rating: 1 stars out of 5

I understand that this endeavor was supposed to help relations between South American countries and the US, to help prevent South American countries from turning towards the Nazi Party. And if it was 1942, this film would be great propaganda for making me consider visiting South America. But the loose plot of connecting shorts based on animators going on a trip to make the movie... eh... not really a plot if you ask me. Also the shorts themselves don't really hold a strong plot. They are standard, one off shorts that could be told in a Looney Tunes, Merry Melody! Good for laughs, but not for depth and meaning.

Animation Rating: 1 out of 5

I felt like they really dropped the ball at WDAS! What happened here was a travesty to animation in American movies. The animation was television rate. In this retrospective (so far) this is the lowest and I can only hope that we will push beyond this "television-rate" animation. 

The Test of Time:

Considering this had only one re-release I don't think it has stood the test of time. The animation is campy, the music im-memorable, the "plot" illogical. Goofy seemed racist. Donald didn't appreciate the differences between his country and Brazil. As I child, I collected Disney animated movies (in the classics and masterpiece releases). When this was release, I was confused, I had never heard of the movie and never heard of WDAS doing shorts, but here it was, a 44 minute movie that does not fit in with all that came before it, and all the would come after it.

Again, I understand, that when Walt took on this project, WDAS was hemorrhaging money on Bambi, and the European market was closed due to WWII, but I just don't consider this a "Master Piece" or a "Classic." This is one movie that should remain in the Disney Vault, with Songs of the South.

Next Up:
The Three Caballeros


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