Monday, March 28, 2016

Song of the South Family Movie Night | A Disney Mom's Thoughts

The 9th movie in our 2016 Disney Resolution list is Song of the South. This movie was released on November 12, 1946. It's a story about a young boy, Johnny, who goes with is mom to stay with his grandmother on her plantation. It appears his parents are separating, so dad is not seen much. While on the plantation, Johnny befriends a young African American boy named Toby. The two of them, along with Ginny, a poor white girl, often visit an old African American man named Uncle Remus who tells them the stories of Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox, and Br'er Bear. 

We are fortunate to have a friend who owns a DVD copy of the animation/ live action Song of the South. I thought I had seen this as a child, but I don't think I ever did. I did remember some of the animated parts (there was only 25 minutes of animation) but it may be from old Disney Sing Along movies or the picture book I had as a child. 

For our snack, we went with a rabbit theme, which was easy with all the Easter candy out right now! We had chocolate bunnies, bunny peeps, and bunny cheddar crackers. 

Overall, we were not thrilled with this movie. My 7 year old hated the live action parts. He only liked the "Splash Mountain" parts! My 3 year old actually did better with it. He liked Johnny and repeatedly talked about the times in the movie when he cried, got in fights, and got hit by the bull! 

Rumors I always heard were that the NAACP kept Disney from releasing this movie for home viewing in the USA. After some research, I found this is not the caseThe NAACP did not keep Disney from releasing the movie, but they did have this to say, “the production helps to perpetuate a dangerously glorified picture of slavery . . . [the film] unfortunately gives the impression of an idyllic master-slave relationship which is a distortion of the facts.” 

The song "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" won an oscar for the best original song and James Baskett, who played Uncle Remus and voiced Br'er Fox, won an honorary academy award in 1948. Walt Disney campaigned for him to him to win the Academy Award, but that didn't happen. He was able to get him the honorary award and he died three months later.
You can find Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox, and Br'er Bear at Walt Disney World and Disneyland on Splash Mountain. This is one of our favorite rides at Walt Disney World. I think watching the movie may have tainted my son's view of this ride though... thankfully, he loved the animated parts of Song of the South!

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