Countless remakes and lackluster sequels have diminished the brand of Disney for many viewers. Disney has decided to answer this dilemma with the release of Disney Plus on November 12 as a streaming service for all fans to indulge in the history of the company. Though the platform provides various titles to rummage through, it is also clearly absent of many unique submissions that allowed for Disney to thrive in the modern age. While titles such as Sleeping Beauty and Bambi are given their spotlight, many treasures remain discarded from exposure. This is a travesty that must be reprimanded due to the degradation of Walt Disney’s vision of nostalgic optimism and the potential endeavors of tomorrow.
In 1942, Disney decided to join the war effort through the production of propaganda to support the United States military. This propaganda involved documentaries and animated short films that would be deemed controversial in this political climate. Many of the early films of this period discussed how to train naval soldiers or getting support from American citizens to pay taxes towards the war effort. One such short is Victory through Air Power that illustrated the use of aerial warfare and potential solutions for winning the war. While these films should be included, the main concern is towards the inclusion of Education for Death, Der Fuehrer’s Face, and Reason and Emotion. These films represent the spectrum of coping with World War 2 as a cautionary tale against indoctrination in the Nazi party, a humorous portrayal of the Nazism, and the importance of remaining calm and vigilante against fear. While these shorts have been released on home video, Disney Plus could have a separate section called Disney at War that includes a short documentary about the company’s participation in WWII to add context for their artistic expression.
Numerous animation companies have a filmography of regretful decisions, but Disney can set the example by reclaiming their history and setting the foundation for all the dream. Song of the South is the most polarizing omission from the platform due to its historical representation of the African American experience. Released in 1946, the film follows the exploits of a boy named Johnny who visits a plantation and meets Uncle Remus that recounts stories to help ease Johnny’s troubles. With the backdrop of the Reconstruction after the Civil War, Uncle Remus is portrayed as a worker on the plantation and not as a slave. James Baskett gave dignity in the role of the character as he remains steadfast and joyful despite his surroundings, earning him the title of the first black male actor to win an Oscar. Beautifully animated segments featuring the animal characters of the original Uncle Remus Stories fill the screen. Animators put their soul into constructing this vision for only bootleg copies of the film to be relics of their persistence. Song of the South should be remastered with high quality technology and given proper explanation by Leonard Maltin of its historical significance in film history and animation.
Television provided a new medium for Disney to experiment with as a channel to promote a vision where all can be part of the entertainment process. Disney Plus does provide insight into the components of the company through The Imagineering Story, but the crucial stories of many employees remain a mystery. The key is to present such classics as Walt Disney World Inside Out and Disney Family Album to a new audience. They went over new attractions that were being added to the park and gave insight into the employees that made the vision into reality. DTV took classic pop songs of the golden age with Disney animation to show the range of emotions that company could convey. Contraption was a game show that tested Disney knowledge and Totally Circus give kids access to the world of endless entertainment. Missing programs such as Pepper Ann introduced ideas of feminism, So Weird allowed kids to investigate, and The Weekenders gave permission to any viewer to accept fun in their lives. While numerous additions should be introduced in their catalogue, Disney Plus must continue to innovate by creating original programming through the limitless possibilities of dreamers of any age to follow their curiosity for tomorrow.