Disney’s Song of the South to Be Released on DVD?!

Song of the SouthSome readers may know that Song of the South has always been one of my favorite Disney films. Originally released in 1946, I remember seeing it at some point in my childhood and hearing about it often, as it was one of my Dad’s favorites as well. The lessons illustrated by Brer Rabbit and his pals are similar to what he grew up hearing . As a child, I never took on or felt any racist effects from the film, as many critics have stated could be an adverse effect of re-releasing the controversial movie. To a child, Uncle Remus is just a story teller. The tar baby is just that, a baby made out of tar. I realize I am speaking from a white girl raised in a white world perspective but I stand by the fact that most negative views of the film are based on adult connotations of innocent subject matter. Is Gone With the Wind banned due to its portrayal of African-Americans during civil war time? Critics fear the master-slave relationship is a little too optimistic in Song of the South but again, this is a children’s film and the purpose is to share the lessons taught by Uncle Remus, not make a social commentary. Further, I have always maintained the personal opinion that animated films like Peter Pan with its “What Made the Red Man Red” or The Aristocats portrayal of a Siamese cat brimming with Asian stereotypes are actually much worse as far as blatant racism go. Of course these are just my opinions, I am no film critic or historian.

Disney has seen the value of the content within the film, crafting its Splash Mountain storyline and characters around the Song of the South anthropomorphic animals we’ve come to know and love: Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear and Brer Fox among them. However Disney has shied away from making concrete plans to release the film simply because it is so controversial. Most likely any attempt to release it would meet with discord no matter how it was approached. So what’s the answer? Perhaps a prologue explaining that as with any history, time casts the proper light on lessons to learn and not repeat. I can’t in good conscience support a cut or censored version, so hopefully a way can be found to properly bring this film to a new generation, with the caveat that times change and hopefully so do people.

That said, I was just sent a link to an interview by Boston area movie reviewer and pod caster Steve Head. Steve recently interviewed Dave Bossert, the artistic supervisor for Disney’s restoration team as he was covering the D23 event – Fantasia: A 70th Anniversary Celebration at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Dave Bossert gave an encouraging quote regarding the potential for Song of the South’s re-release: “I can say there’s been a lot of internal discussion about [Song of the South]. And at some point we’re going to do something about it. I don’t know when, but we will. We know we want people to see Song of the South because we realize it’s a big piece of company history, and we want to do it the right way.”

Certainly that gives fans of preserving Disney classics some hope, yes? To read the rest of Steve’s wonderful article, head over to The Post-Movie Podcast. Many thanks to Steve for sending this link over and helping to build the excitement for the possible future of Disney’s past. It’s important to note that this is not a definite “yes” as far as a release and certainly no date has been mentioned, however as Steve comments in his article, the optimism comes from the fact that this quote is coming from the supervisor of the restoration team at Disney Animation, which is who should be making the decisions about the release and support of Song of the South.

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  • http://twitter.com/floridamingo Betsy Bates

    I really hope they do make the effort to release the film. I know a lot of people have found their way to this movie, but more have not. It has some great stories based on the originals by Joel Chandler Harris, and it would be nice, without redaction. If there can be films about all the evils of the word made in current context, like American History X or old films like Birth of the Nation, why can’t we have Song of the South? Bring it on.

  • http://twitter.com/floridamingo Betsy Bates

    I really hope they do make the effort to release the film. I know a lot of people have found their way to this movie, but more have not. It has some great stories based on the originals by Joel Chandler Harris, and it would be nice, without redaction. If there can be films about all the evils of the word made in current context, like American History X or old films like Birth of the Nation, why can’t we have Song of the South? Bring it on.

  • http://www.amillionboxes.com Amy @ A Million Boxes

    My mother-in-law actually has Song of the South on laser disc!! Years ago my husband made a vhs copy to watch so we do have it, but I would LOVE for it to be released on DVD. I can understand why it’s a tricky release for them but with all the clever minds at Disney, they should be able to come up with a way to address the issues along with the release!

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  • http://riceballmommy.blogspot.com Riceball Mommy

    I thought they should release it with something similar to or with a Leonard Maltin introduction, like they have for some of the cartoons on the Disney Treasures.
    I’ve never actually seen the movie, so I really want to see it released on DVD.

  • Krista Miller

    I would LOVE to see “Song of the South” released on DVD. I also remember seeing it at some point during my early childhood and I loved the characters. My children are always asking about the basis of the Splash Mountain ride and I think they would enjoy seeing its inspiration.

  • Madsellsearcher

    I think this would be the best gift, he’s ever gotten, for my husband. He loves the songs and frankly, i agree with the writer, you only see racism because you want there to be. Slavery happened, you can’t ignore it, it’s our past. Ignoring it, is like ignoring African American’s history and ancestors. They need to promote this in a positive light.

  • Thenotsoperfecthousewife

    I’m one of those naughty people who found it on DVD online somewhere. I bought it for myself and my sister since it brings back great memories for us with our grandfather.
    I never understood the issue/thinking when it comes to this whole movie and reasons of not releasing it. There are movies out there that are TONS worse.. and like you said.. it’s a kids movie.

    And now kids will understand what Splash mountain is REALLY about :-)

    So glad to hear this news!

  • http://twitter.com/wdwprince WDWPRINCE

    Anyone who doesn’t want to wait for the DVD release and wants to see it now, the entire movie is on Youtube.

  • Anonymous

    I wrote a paper on song of the south but saw it for the first time when I was very young. I have a strange place in my heart for it.

  • Shelley J.

    I really hope they do decide to release it and you know there will be those that give thumbs down to it. I myself being born in the 60’s have vaugue memories of seeing the movie and I can tell you when I ride Splash Mountain hold a special place for this creation.

  • Russell

    The characters are seen at the parks but children for the last 20 years are so do not know what film they came from. I have watched the film several times to see exactly where the racism is. I can tell you as a black man its about as historically accurate as Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

  • Ttintagel

    I do think it should be released, simply because history needs to be seen to be understood. Those who do not learn from it are doomed to repeat it. I like the idea of creating a prologue putting it in context, and disclaimers about how it doesn’t reflect current attitudes. You could even include commentaries and extra features by sociologists and historians.

  • Sheila Rogers

    I feel like crying when I hear Song of the South my not be released, and worse that it could be revised. I grew up ( born 1962 ) going to the theater to see this awesome Disney Classic. “Zippity Do Day, Zippity Heat,my oh my what a wonderful day, plenty of sunshine headin’ our way…….With Mr. Bluebird on my shoulder, it’s the truth, it’s actual, it’s positively satisfactual……. Please don’t tarnish this American Classic with garbage there is so much smut in Hollywood today this Classic by Walt Disney must never leave, it will forever be in my heart and on my mind. Thank-you. Uncle Rhemis, Brear Rabbit,Tar Baby, I love you all, please come back!!!!!!!!!!!