As I was working frantically (read: browsing lazily) on the internet today, I came across this advert for Coke from the 1950s which I found so hilariously funny that I had to share it with as many people as I could.
It did remind me though of some Disney films that were made during the war for various Government campaigns. I did my dissertation on the difference in war time propaganda films produced in Britain and America, and watched some creations from the Disney studio that no fan should ever have to see! One film that I stumbled upon during this time (although it didn’t make it in to the dissertation) was called The Winged Scourge. It was made in 1943, and uses the Seven Dwarves to warn people against the risk of Malaria, and to inform them that the best method for reducing the risk was to… wait for it… pour oil on to every water source.
And this film was just one of a great many films that the Disney studios produced during the war (despite the fact that nearly one third of their staff were drafted.)
There’s a great DVD collection called Disney on the Front Lines which includes about 30 short films made about the war effort and introduced thoughtfully by film historian and mega Disney nerd Leonard Maltin.
Several of the films have not been seen since their initial release; and others were never shown to the general public. Many of the wartime entertainment shorts are largely propaganda, and many are educational. Donald’s nightmare of working on a Nazi assembly line in “Der Fuehrer’s Face” is still hilarious slapstick. The grimmer “Education for Death” and “Chicken Little” have aged less gracefully (and considerably less politically correctly!!).
It’s a scary collection, but it’s also fascinating for anyone with an interest in Disney, animation, the war, propaganda or the changing acceptability of gratuitous racism and health policies which actively push to destroy the environment.
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