12-26-2015, 09:05 PM
Given recent and turbulent events involving the United States these days (like police shootings, terrorism, racial tensions and violence, and the political actions of Donald Trump, etc.), it is not really surprising that there was once the very best thing about Disney�s controversial 1946 movie Song of the South:

The animation. Period.

Three of Uncle Remus� Brer Rabbit stories (actually written by Joel Chandler Harris) brought to life through animation (and also the scenes of live action and animation interacting when such interacting occurs) are the very best thing ever about Disney�s ever-controversial and ever un-re-release-able Song of the South from 1946.

I know Uncle Walt felt that the future of his work lay increasingly with live action stuff, and this is an important milepost in the history of the Disney company for this is Disney�s first serious attempt at combining live action with animation since his early Alice Comedies that he made during the silent era.

As for Joel Chandler Harris himself, he himself had written over 180 short stories as told by Uncle Remus about Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, Brer Bear and many other supporting Brers (Brer is actually the word brother in the dialect of the slaves of the Old pre-Civil War American South) out of which three of the most popular tales, like Brer Rabbit runs away and the patch of thorns and all, the trap made of tarlike asphalt muck or the Tar Baby as it was called, and the infamous Laughing Place, were adapted by Walt Disney to fill out the animated portions of the Song of the South movie, and all three are much, much, much MUCH MORE interesting than anything about the cheap and controversial live action stuff in the movie.

All credit must go to Bill Peet the Disney storyman whose vivid concept drawings and storyboards helped bring the world of Uncle Remus and all the animalistic brers vividly to animated cartoon life.

Disney legend Milt Kahl was very highly enthusiastic about his Brer Rabbit animation which he shares with the Ollie Johnson side of Disney Legends Frank and Ollie, and it was rightfully so:

This doughty bunny must triumph over all his enemies using all his smarts, and that task always will be a tough one, for a manic schemer named Brer Fox wanted to have Brer Rabbit for dinner, while the brutal but phlegmatic Brer Bear simply wants to behead him!

In the very hands of Milt and Ollie, Brer Rabbit is such a very fantastic actor indeed! And all three animated vignettes features Brer Rabbit captured and inches from death before the brain conquers the brawn and as he hatches his plots, his desperate expressions clearly show that even Brer Rabbit isn�t sure he�ll get out alive!

But a split second later, the rabbit is faking bravado or amusement with such conviction that Brer Fox and Brer Bear will easily be undone by his trickery!

It might have been interesting had Disney ever initiate a series of shorts starring all those wonderful characters�after all, he could have made up to 180 of them!�had the Disney company not spend a very significant amount of time and energy trying to have every single complete copy of Song of the South out there forever taken away from the public face of the earth and completely destroyed!

(Well, why the movie Song of the South hadn�t been shown in public since almost 30 years ago (1986) and hadn�t been released to video or DVD or BluRay here for like forever (though the collectors and bootleggers were able to snatch laserdiscs of the movie from Japan for their own gain) is because of the heightened social and racial sensitivity to the portrayed image of the happy slave, which is the very worst and most controversial thing about the movie�s live action elements)

Meanwhile, the interaction between live action and animation is seamlessly fused when such interactions occurred, and it is still impressive today, for someone will easily sense that the movie was technically ahead of its time, and audiences must have been deeply impressed almost 70 years ago, for when Uncle Remus enters his imaginary world singing the famous �Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah� song and interacts with cartoon butterflies, moles, possums and a cartoon bluebird, too, the effects are both naturalistic and satisfactory indeed!

I know Song of the South was a major public relations headache for Walt Disney himself, for the original script was written by a southerner named Dalton Reymond, but his efforts were too racially offensive for the African Americans of the American Southland, so Maurice Rapf was hired on coauthor and keep Reymond in check, but both men quarreled with each other and Rapf wound up working of DIsney�s Cinderella, and finally, Morton Grant finished the script with Reymond, but no amount of messaging could ever disguise the stereotypical underpinnings of the finished movie which was hated by the NAACP, Ebony magazine, the National Negro Congress and African American leader like Adam Clayton Powell Jr.

I think the venom was largely directed towards the controversial live action scenes, but everyone on the face of the earth considered the three Brer Rabbit animations (which comprise a half hour of the movie�s 94 minutes of screen time) to be the very best thing about Song of the South.

As for James Baskett, who portrayed Uncle Remus, though he wasn�t invited to the premiere and movie theater playing it in the then-segregated Atlanta, Georgia (the same city that hosted the premiere of David O. Selznick�s 1939 adaptaton of the Margaret Mitchell epic novel Gone With The Wind seven years earlier), he still managed to win a 1948 honorary Academy Award Oscar for his engaging portrayal of Uncle Remus, but he passed away a few months after that!

Anyway, here are the three Brer Rabbit animations in question, if you follow these links:




And here are some live action/animation interactions from the movie (including the famous Zip A Dee Doo Dah song) if you follow these links:



See them all at your very own risk and drop me a line at what the very best and very worst things about Disney�s now un-seeable and ever controversial Song of the South really is!

And I would appreciate it if you tell me what the very best thing about the now unseen and ever controversial Song of the South Disney movie (or even the very worst thing about it) really is!

Thank you and have a good day!

12-27-2015, 08:30 AM
for the longest time in my life, i had had a brer rabbit storybook made by disney that covered two stories, the tar kid and one where the rabbit tricks the fox and bear to not kill him by throwing him into a thorn valley/something (turns out that, since he was born and raised there, the thorns dont harm him). it wasnt until about 6 years ago i found out the tar boy segment was from song of the south (and found out that movie existed)