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Disney's Song of the South (1946)

Walt Disney's adaptation of Joel Chandler Harris' tales of Uncle Remus, Br'er Rabbitt, Br'er Fox, and Br'er Bear hasn't been seen in full in the U.S. since its 1986 theatrical re-release, never on home video and none is planned (it's available in other countries, and, as a result, you can find it on youtube -- see link, though I don't know how long that'll last). Just watched it; I'd seen it as a 10 year old back in 1980, and, on a technical level, it holds up marvelously -- the animation is wonderful, and the cinematography (by the great Gregg Toland) of the live-action scenes is exquisite. And even the story -- a Magical Negro teaches life lessons to a wealthy but lonely white boy who lives in the big house (this is post-Reconstruction Georgia) -- is ultimately quite affecting. Yes, its portrayal of black folk deferring to the whites and living -- happily, it seems -- in abject poverty is uncomfortable. But the characters are honorable and positive, and mostly unlike the unpleasant stereotypes portrayed in Gone with the Wind. I suppose it gets more controversy because its racism is in a film aimed at children. I still think Disney should release it on DVD/Blu-Ray, with a documentary/commentary from historians and African-American scholars discussing the film. It's certainly worth a look for a comparison of James Baskett's Uncle Remus and Samuel L. Jackson's Stephen in Django Unchained.

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