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Bit behind in getting this posted. But I’ve been busy running Naka Kon and have barely had time to sleep, let alone process movies.

But now I’m all caught up and had some time to digest last week’s film, Saludos Amigos.

Sarah already hit the background: Nazis were courting Latin America and the US wanted to open relations with them, but official channels were seen as too heavy handed, so they sent Disney on a mission of good will.

Even after a first watching and some spot watching for review, I’m still not sure what to say about this one. It’s a series of shorts that concentrate on culture. Not really a strong suit of mine. I’ve got a few friends that are sociologists and they’d probably have all sorts to say, but they’re not here.

As much as this film was “edutainment”, I walked away feeling like I hadn’t learned much. A few names of places and things, but nothing of the culture, lore, or history. Which is disappointing since much of this is nodded to vaguely, noting that the cultures have historical roots tying back to the Incas and they have a very rich history and, like the Mayans, were rather advanced with their astronomy.

Instead, we get Donald visiting Lake Titicaca feeling altitude sickness and then misleading a llama. Goofy becomes a gaucho and ends up flubbing every role there. Later, Donald shows up and mangles dancing Samba (“a two step with a bounce”). These three segments I find interesting because, although the entire film is supposed to be centered on another culture, in each of these instances the star of the show is always the American character despite Disney animators creating new characters for this show and releasing the film in Rio de Janeiro several months before being released in the US.

This seems to be a creeping sort of elitism: Even if they flub all their roles (for purely comedic reasons of course), the American characters are still the only ones worthy of real focus.

The only exception to this is Pedro, the mail plane that travels between Chile and Mendoza which is an entirely new character.

Another new character is Jose Carioca, an anthropomorphic parrot who shows Donald around Brazil. On my first watching of this segment, most of what I remember is Jose speaking to Donald in Portuguese while slapping him on the back and Donald being about as confused as I was. He would then sum up several paragraphs of monologue with a single sentence (“Let’s hit the town!”). Uh, sure. That’s obviously what I got out of that. But I guess Jose makes up for it in the end by buying Donald a drink, although Donald doesn’t seem to be able to hold his liquor. Poor duck.

Oh, and points to this movie for having hipster llamas way before the hipster meme was even hip. That’s totally meta: