By Aditya Savnal. Posted on May 07, 2015
Disney is known for making delightful animation films that are extremely popular with children and family audiences. But they've made a few bizarre short films, especially in the 30’s & 40’s, that were in contrast to the family friendly films they've become synonymous with over the years.
Here is our compilation of 5 bizarre and shocking short films made by Disney.
During the Second World War, Walt Disney and the U.S. Government created a lengthy war propaganda through several short films that featured Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and other iconic Disney characters.
Spirit Of ‘43 stars Donald Duck as an average citizen trying to figure out what to do with his paycheck. While pondering over it, two different sides of his personality pop up and give him different ideas and add to his dilemma. The first is the intelligent Scrooge McDuck who encourages Donald to save the extra cash to pay taxes which would help America buy more guns and ammunition and win the war. While the latter is a smooth talking pimp who wants Donald Duck to spend that money on women.
What follows is nearly 6 minutes of jingoistic animation reeking of propaganda and like many American films, sells war to the audience.
Continuing with their war themed propaganda, this short narrates the tale of how a German kid is brainwashed into buying into Nazism and grows up to be the Nazi hero he was always meant to be. In today’s times, a film dealing with war and children would not be approved of by Disney. And if even it was, it would deal with the futility of war and how children should be kept away from it. Or so we would like to believe.
But in 1943 – the year in which it was made, it was a completely different story. The film is dark with images of slogan-chanting Nazi army and bodies turning into headstones at graveyards. All this in a film featuring children and made by a brand known for their children friendly films!
Based on a story by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin a 1927 film directed by Harry Pollard that narrates the story of a black family torn apart by slavery before the start of the Civil war. The short film sees Mickey Mouse perform a stage adaptation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin which sees him don the black paint to play the role. Yes black paint! You read that right.
We don’t really know what Disney intended to convey through this short made at a time when racism was widespread in America (incidents like Fergusson & Baltimore show the issue is not dead yet) and it seems to be in bad taste. Thankfully, even the audiences in the film boo Mickey and his friends while performing this play. Maybe through this action of the audience, Disney wanted to convey that they do not endorse racism or so we would like to think? Watch the film and decide for yourselves.
Donald Duck features yet again in a short that sees him having nightmares of serving Hitler under the Nazi regime. The 7 min film sees Donald Duck salute Hitler and chant ‘Hail Hitler’, whether it’s in his dreams or when he’s wide awake. The film is filled with Swastikas as Donald Duck slaves away in a factory manufacturing shells for the German army. Much like the films mentioned earlier, Der Fueher’s Face is a propoganda film made to create the fear of Hitler & Nazism in the mind's of ordinary Americans and others.
Salvador Dali is well known for his surreal paintings and films. In the 40’s, Disney summoned Dali to make a painting based on which Disney was planning to make an original short film. However, after doing the storyboarding and producing the test footage, Disney realised the project wasn’t financially feasible enough and decided to scrap it.
Several years later, the project was revived by Roy E Disney, Walt Disney’s nephew who ensured that the project was completed. What one gets to see in the film are images that are vivid & beautiful and are very true to the surrealist nature of Dali’s works. Having said that, it is tough to summarise what the film is all about. According to the IMDB synopsis, the film is about a woman who sees and undergoes surreal transformations.
Watch these films on Jamuura TV, the one-stop portal for short films of all kinds from across the world.