Disney on the Front Lines
May 24, 2004 11:20 AM   Subscribe

Disney WWII-era propaganda An interview with Dave Bossert, the producer of a limited-edition two-DVD set of propaganda films produced by the Disney animation studio between 1941 and 1946--many of these shorts, including Donald Duck's Der Fuehrer's Face, were previously available only as nth-generation bootlegs because of their stereotypes and politically sensitive subject matter. (Also included in the collection is the previously extremely rare feature-length 1943 animated film Victory Through Air Power, designed to convince the American public that the only way to win the war was investment in long-range bombers.) [more inside]
posted by Prospero (12 comments total)
In the interview, Bossert says, "The argument about, should we see Donald with a swastika is irrelevant, because you can find the image in a split second on the internet. It is out there.

I actually had someone internally say to me that they were completely against putting that short out, because they didn't want Donald with a swastika on. She told me her parents had been in a concentration camp and she completely did not like this. I had a different view on it. I don't think we should hide stuff like this. I think this is the kind of stuff you want to discuss with your children and have an intelligent conversation about. That is how you can get beyond this."

posted by Prospero at 11:21 AM on May 24, 2004

I was watching this over the weekend - it's an impressive collection! It's broken down into sections - some pure propaganda (very well done), some educational stuff about disease, etc, and some traditional Disney entertainment stuff with a wartime theme. I'm surprised that this was put out on DVD as I can't imagine too many people buying it, but it's certainly worth watching.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:46 AM on May 24, 2004

I saw quite a bit of this set and is well worth a look. Perhaps Warner Bros. will put out their wartime toons as well. Luckily, Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips is available over the usual filesharing channels.

/sieg heil! sieg heil! Right in de fueror's face!
posted by dr_dank at 12:39 PM on May 24, 2004

I also just bought this DVD set the other day and have been working my way through it, beginning with the propaganda shorts.

Not to turn this thread into another "typical MeFi liberal Bush = Hitler party", but I was deeply struck by the message of the short called "Reason and Emotion" and it's parallels to our "current situation", and wondered if those who are so intent on equating things now with WWII would squirm a little bit if they saw the anti-Nazi propaganda and recognized elements of the PR machine used by the present administration being presented as the tools of the enemy.
posted by briank at 12:42 PM on May 24, 2004

I stopped buying these "limited" edition Disney box sets after getting too frustrated having to watch their (unskipable) idiotic intro movie and Maltin's introductions over and over.
posted by milnak at 12:44 PM on May 24, 2004

Seversky's book--Victory Through Air Power--that this is based on is pretty crazy itself....he had some great ideas and he had some far-out science fiction dreams of giant battle wings flying around the globe.

highly recommend it to aviation buffs.
posted by th3ph17 at 12:45 PM on May 24, 2004

Somewhere, someone at BoingBoing is cursing you for scooping them on this...
posted by ejoey at 1:15 PM on May 24, 2004

Self-link: Not many people know that the children's author Roald Dahl's first book was "The Gremlins", based on an aborted animated film he was working on with Disney in the early 1940's. It was about the little creatures blamed for knocking holes in the British warplanes. The book's extremely rare and it's never been republished. I did get some advance word recently through my site that Disney may be releasing some production artwork on one of their DVDs, though it doesn't sound like it made it onto this one.
posted by web-goddess at 4:24 PM on May 24, 2004

I happened to see quite a few of the Disney propaganda cartoons (not sure if they would be the same on this dvd set) a few years ago in Portland, OR. There is a small theater here known for playing odd movies, often with inroductions by the owner of the theater. the screening I saw was about 50 odd minutes of war toons, racism, and violence that is less prevalent in today's stuff. It was quite interesting to hear the theater owner explain that he has been sued repeatedly by Disney (and WB) for showing these cartoons, but continues to fight them and show these once a year or so.

Check out clintonsttheater.com if you're in the area.
posted by efalk at 4:54 PM on May 24, 2004

Oh, wow. I remember watching a few grainy realplayer-format versions of episodes like 'Der Fuehrer's Face' a few years back. Never thought these things would see the light of day again as an official release.

Does anyone know when it might be coming to the UK?
posted by reklaw at 5:44 PM on May 24, 2004

Seversky's book--Victory Through Air Power--that this is based on is pretty crazy itself....he had some great ideas and he had some far-out science fiction dreams of giant battle wings flying around the globe.

The end of the film has one of the most amazing animated sequences I've seen from that period--dozens and dozens of indescribably huge, absolutely enormous bombers, taking off from an Alaskan airstrip during a heavy rainstorm, off to drop tens of thousands of six-ton bombs on Japan. That's how the film sees WWII ending with a single decisive stroke--history proved differently, of course.
posted by Prospero at 10:00 AM on May 25, 2004

This is why I love Metafilter. It should be winging it's way to me real soon!

I've been building up my collection of cartoon DVD's and it means recently I've been watching rather a lot of war cartoons. There's the Tom & Jerry cartoon, "Yankee Doodle Mouse". "Saw cat, sank same." Then there's Tex Avery's toons, most notably with "Blitz Wolf" a goose stepping wolf. And in more recent efforts there was Bill Plympton's cold war toon Boom Town which is probably the most eighties cartoon ever.
posted by dodgygeezer at 12:10 PM on May 25, 2004

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