Directed By: Theodore Thomas
Starring: Walt Disney, JB Kaufman
It’s 1941, the Nazi’s have control of most of Europe and their influence is spreading throughout the world. What can the U.S. government do to stop their influence from spreading to South America? Why, send Walt Disney and his animators on a goodwill tour of Chile, Brazil and Argentina. Of course!!
This documentary has the potential to really be a great history lesson. Not only did the government ask Disney to go on a three month tour of South America but this was right before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Plus, the Disney studio was on strike at the same time and also four million dollars in debt. With a back story like that you’d think this would be an interesting watch. But the truth is that this story isn’t very interesting. The social and political implications alone should have been enough to drive the story. Not only that, but due to this tour Disney Studios produced both Saludos Amigos as well as the highly underrated feature The Three Caballeros. How could this go so wrong?
Before I start telling the bad I would like to point out a few high lights. The archival footage of the tour as well as all the personal letters from the animators are a very nice window into the times. To think that all this happened seventy years ago and still the film remains in a near perfect state is mind blowing. Also, the South American scenery is gorgeous. There is no taking away from the beauty of the land.
The problem with this film is the narrative or more importantly, the lack thereof. There is never a cohesive story here. Sure, the story is about the tour but never does the tour push anyone into the spotlight. I can’t tell you a single name, outside of Walt Disney, of anyone on this trip. Also, there are long portions of this film that have little of no sound, narration or really purpose. All these scenes feel like filler. And I think that is the biggest problem with this film, it’s all filler. This could have been told in a half hour and kept the integrity of the story. Such a waste.
Widescreen (1.78:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions. I will say that the archival footage looks fantastic. Walt’s old 16 mm camera sure did a great job of capturing some beautiful images.
Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio, basic and serviceable but nothing special. It’s a doc, what do you expect?
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The packaging is almost as boring as the feature with its typical clamshell and slip cover. Although, I did enjoy the painted artwork on the front cover.
The special features aren’t much better. I did appreciate the inclusion of Salutos Amigos as it has been many years since I seen this. Also, the original trailer for both Salutos Amigos and The Three Caballeros is a nice touch. But the other “bonus features” are virtually useless. This dvd disappoints from the top down.
I was really hoping for something good with this movie. Unfortunately it falls flat. The scenery from South America is absolutely beautiful and some of the archival footage is magnificent but what should be a fun story about stemming the tide of Nazi influence turns into a boring personal memoir. And it is a forgettable memoir at that.
Overall (Not an Average) 5/10
The Season 4/10
The Video 5/10
The Audio 5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 5/10
Overall (Not an Average) 5/10