Disney’s Song of the South Movie Review

I’m old enough to remember seeing a re-release of Disney’s Song of the South. I don’t remember where or when, but I’m pretty sure it was in Thailand in the 1970s. The memories I’ve had of it are the Br’er Bear, Br’er Fox, and Br’er Rabbit animated sequences. A few years ago, I decided to watch all of the Disney animated feature movies in sequence, so I rented them or checked them out at the local library. I didn’t realize at first that Song of the South wasn’t part of that canon since it had live action scenes, but decided to go find it anyway since it was a part of my childhood.

I was really surprised that I couldn’t find it on video or DVD except for snippets on Sing-Along-Songs. I got online to do a little research and found out that it was never released on video in the United States. Curious. So I did a little more digging and found out that Disney had decided it wasn’t a good idea given the possible backlash due to concerns about its racist nature. Apparently, Uncle Remus and the live action scenes were rife with stereotypes along the lines of Gone with the Wind.

Br'er Rabbit and the Tar Baby

Br'er Fox from Song of the South
I played Br’er Fox for a 4th grade school production in Chaing Mai, Thailand. Br’er Rabbit was played by an Aussie. Br’er Bear was played by another American. The tar baby was played by an Israeli kid name Ofir. There were no Africans or African Americans, ironically.

I didn’t remember any of those themes and figured it couldn’t be any worse than most of the films that glorified the slave period. Besides, all I cared about was seeing Br’er Rabbit hanging out in his Laughin’ Place. I found out that Disney had released the movie to video in the UK, so I got on eBay and bought a rather expensive copy of it from over yonder. Of course, our pals in the UK use the PAL video format, so it’s not compatible with VHS. That means I had to shell out some additional dough to get it converted.

Anyway, that’s the background on how I got a hold of the video. And here’s my review:

It sucked. I don’t know what else to say about it. If you thought Disney’s 1944 The Three Caballeros was annoying, this is along those lines. It was also terribly boring. The live action scenes were the most tedious and felt like it should have been called Uncle Tom Visits Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. The animated sequences were typical Disney and I did enjoy the songs and some of the Br’er animals antics. But, the veneer of fond memory had worn off and even those scenes were somewhat droll, especially since they weren’t the main focus of the film.  I was also right about the racism. It wasn’t any more racist than Gone with the Wind and much less so than Birth of a Nation.  So, whether it sucked or not, it probably just needs to be filed under the never-watch-again category.

 

Song of the South, Disney Movie

Here are some stills from the movie.

4 thoughts on “Disney’s Song of the South Movie Review

  1. I remember being in cartoon writing classes in college back in the 90’s, and listening to people constantly complaining that the Disney corporation was holding back the form by pandering their marketing only to single moms and their kids. I mean, compared to what the Japanese were doing in terms of audacity of storytelling, there was no competition.

    But luckily, with time, the technology became affordable enough that start-ups and other studios in North America could jump on the animation bandwagon, and start producing animation of acceptable quality as well. And all of a sudden, we ended with an influx of animation movies that could appeal to kids without making the adults feel like they were being talked down to.

    [n]

      1. Religulous for free on youtube. Not that it’s that great of a movie, it was mostly seeing the reaction to this movie in others that gave me the enjoyment.

        But don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of really good Disney flicks out there. Snow White, Alladin and Hercules being personal favorites. Fantasia is worth a mention too.

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