Saludos Amigos is probably the least known of all 51 animated Disney feature films. It’s also the shortest – clocking in at a whopping 42 minutes. In fact, I’m not sure why it’s even included on the official list. Don’t believe that it is? Check out the 50 Animated Films video count up made for Tangled’s release in 2010. Saludos Amigos is number 6.
Why shouldn’t it be included (in Sarah World)? Most of it isn’t animated. I didn’t bother calculating how much is live action and how much is animated. I’m sure that statistic is out there somewhere. Two Disney films that are both live action and animation that deserve credit over Saludos Amigos:
Mary Poppins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. (You know what, Mary Poppins gets a lot of credit. No one knows Bedknobs and Broomsticks – quite frankly, I prefer it to Poppins.) Either way, they’re different beasts than Saludos Amigos. ANYWAY!
You probably haven’t heard of Saludos Amigos. There’s probably a reason for that. (However, at the time, the film was popular enough to warrant a sequel. How bout that.) It’s not a traditional “Disney animated film.” As in, it is edutainment, not entertainment. The live action sequences are documentaries about the cultures of various places in South America – Lake Titicaca (Peru), Buenos Aires (Argentina), and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). In addition to being mostly live action, it is a package film, meaning there is not one solid plot. It is a bunch of little stories, much like Fantasia, Three Caballeros, Make Mine Music, Fun and Fancy Free, and Melody Time.
The film was made as a result of a goodwill tour that Walt and his team took to South America. Why? To stop the South Americans from being allies with Nazi Germany. (America – F yeah!) Mickey and the gang were popular with South Americans, and so the government gave Walt a bunch of money to go down there. Guess it worked.
Donald Duck was also featured in another infamous Disney anti-nazi short, Der Fuehrer’s Face (1943). Yes, Donald is a nazi. Yes, the Disney Company likes to pretend that this short doesn’t exist, but it did, in fact, win an Academy Award. Kind of hard to ignore that. But blah blah blah, end of story: Donald sure is glad to live in the United States! As we’re not talking about Disney shorts here, I’ll leave you to make your own judgement on the thing.
(Disney also likes to pretend that Song of the South doesn’t exist, and yet one of their most popular theme park attractions is based on it. C’mon Disney, just slap a disclaimer before the film and release it already. All you’re doing is encouraging piracy! Sorry – off topic….but still Disney in the 40s!)
In addition to helping out the war effort, it made Americans more culturally aware of South America. Apparently only savages lived there. Little did they know, “it’s like America, but SOUTH!” (sorry, wrong movie.) They eat, they dance, they work. Hooray. According to others, Saludos Amigos was never meant to be a real film, but instead a series of shorts.
This movie has segments featuring Donald and Goofy and introduces Jose Carioca (who we will revisit in the next film). There’s also a plane named Pedro. Meh. The animated shorts themselves are enjoyable enough. They’re in like with the other shorts that the company was producing around this time. The animation, aside from the last sequence – “Aquarela do Brasil”, I think to be forgettable. Unlike the other package films of this era, I don’t really enjoy these shorts.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate edutainment (or South America) – I do. In fact, my favorite Donald short is Donald Duck in Mathemagic Land. (Donald being my favorite character out of the fab five) I adore EPCOT. A LOT of old Disney produced material is Edutainment…lessons in history, math, physics, color, music – anything you could possibly name. It’s just…was I bored? Not exactly, just kind of disconnected. If I was living in the 40s, I would probably appreciate this film more than I do now. The film is, very much, dated.
Overall, I’m feeling rather meh about this film. It has an interesting place in history, but I’d rather skip it and watch its sequel, The Three Caballeros, instead.