Here's where you can keep track of the latest news items regarding Song of the South, this web site, Splash Mountain, new collectibles, and other related topics. Do you have news to report? Let me know!
On this day 67 years ago, Song of the South debuted at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgia. Click here to view photos from the worldwide premier.
Also of special note: The Wren’s Nest is celebrating 100 years! The Wren’s Nest was the home of Joel Chandler Harris from 1881-1908. Harris authored the Uncle Remus stories that Walt Disney himself grew up with, and was the basis for Song of the South.
The Wren’s Nest. Photo courtesy of Lain Shakespeare.
The Wren’s Nest has been operating as a museum since 1913, was the Uncle Remus Memorial Carnegie Library until 1930, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962. If you want to learn more about Joel Chandler Harris, there’s no better place!
For more information about The Wren’s Nest and Joel Chandler Harris, please visit the Wren’s Nest official web site at www.wrensnest.org.
Disney Legend Floyd Norman has posted on his MrFun’s Blog about a recent visit to the Fox Theater, where Walt Disney’s Song of the South debuted on November 12, 1946:
That morning, I strolled through the lobby of the Fox theater and tried to feel what it must have been like on that evening back in . Though hardly perfect, Walt Disney and his creative team put a lot of love into “Song of the South.” Let’s hope that one day this amazing motion picture can be appreciated for what it is – rather than what some would like it to be.
His full post can be read here:
Mr. Norman was the first African-American animator at Walt Disney Studios. His work began in the late 1950s, and includes such classics as Sleeping Beauty, The Sword and the Stone, The Jungle Book, Robin Hood, and later The Little Mermaid, Monsters, Inc., and Toy Story 2. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007, joining the ranks of many animators who created some of my fondest childhood memories.
Last month, Mr. Norman went on tour in Atlanta to promote his new book “Animated Life” and discuss Song of the South. His visit was partly sponsored by the Wren’s Nest, the official museum of Joel Chandler Harris, the author of the Uncle Remus stories from which Song of the South was based.
It’s especially heartening when Disney’s own animators encourage Song of the South to be released. Thank you Mr. Norman! And special thanks goes to Gavin for informing me of his post and to Ralph Ellis for letting me know about the tour.
Last month, “What’s the Attraction?” reviewed Walt Disney World’s Splash Mountain, the popular attraction based on Disney’s Song of the South. The podcast, posted in two parts, talks about the history of the ride, a descriptive ridethrough, critical analysis, and even some background on Song of the South itself.
This month, by popular request, “What’s the Attraction?” is back to discuss the movie itself! Creators SurferClock and TAP-G have posted their first “Theme Park Reel-View”:
In this inaugural segment, we take a look at the 1946 film, Song of the South, discussing its story, music, characters, and animation before giving a final overall review and rating. Peppered in are nuggets of knowledge both widely-known and rather obscure, and we also discuss some of the elements keeping it from a re-release. Is this film really -that- offensive? And what do SurferClock and TAP-G think of it? Find out by tuning in!
So, what are you waiting for? Have a listen! http://youtu.be/INBy7DrY-vI
Special thanks to Kyle Blanchette for the news report, and to SurferClock and TAP-G for making the review!
“What’s the Attraction?” is a weekly podcast dedicated to reviewing theme park attractions in the central Florida area. Creators SurferClock and TAP-G have recently posted Episodes 55 and 56, reviewing the ever-popular Walt Disney World theme park ride Splash Mountain. As you probably know, Splash Mountain is based on Walt Disney’s 1946 film Song of the South.
The two-part podcast is both informative and fun, going over the history of the ride, descriptive walkthrough, critical analysis, and even some background on Song of the South itself. With special guests Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, Brer Bear, and Uncle Remus, the review is interwoven with a story in true radio show fashion. The character impressions are spot-on, and I found the review to be very entertaining!
Even if you may know everything there is to know about Walt Disney World’s Splash Mountain, I would highly recommend listening to the podcasts if just for the unique story and how it’s presented. Special thanks to Kyle Blanchette for letting me know about these podcasts, and to SurferClock and TAP-G for their hard work that went into making these. Keep up the great work!
You can read about the latest reviews from “What’s the Attraction?” on Blogspot, like them on Facebook, and subscribe to their YouTube channel.
LoneStarCon 3, the World Science Fiction Convention to be held in San Antonio, Texas, had planned to present Song of the South as one of several animated films and cartoons for its upcoming 71st annual convention. However, they have since canceled the presentation:
August 21 – Statement re. Song of the South
LoneStarCon 3 had previously announced a presentation of Disney’s Song of the South, to be shown in conjunction with a talk about the period when the film was made, the historical reality of the time, and the changing perspectives of the film in the light of the Civil Rights movement.
We accept that while we fully intended to show the film in context, this was not adequately explained in the text published on our website and in our Pocket Program. Moreover, to continue showing the film in the light of the public concern expressed over the last few hours would send entirely the wrong messages about our event’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. We will therefore no longer be presenting this film as part of our program.
We got this wrong, and we apologize unreservedly to anyone who has been offended, concerned, or in any way been given cause to doubt the welcome that LoneStarCon 3 will extend to all of our members next week.
The convention runs from August 29th through September 2, 2013. Thanks to Zack Paslay for the news report!
The official Turner Classic Movies blog, MovieMorlocks.com, has posted a blog on August 17th discussing Song of the South. Author David Kalat recently celebrated his 20th wedding anniversary at Walt Disney World (congratulations!), when he “ran across an interesting paradox”:
You see, over the years, Disney has retired some rides because their source material was deemed too obscure (bye bye Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride), and even some that didn’t seem all that obscure got the axe to make way for attractions based on the latest releases (bye bye 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea).
Given this policy, the enduring popularity of Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom is something to marvel at, since the ride is based on perhaps the most obscure work in the entire Disney canon, Song of the South. Weirder still, Splash Mountain debuted in 1989, a few years after its source material Song of the South was decommissioned and mothballed. It would have been easier to just forget Song of the South ever existed–but there’s something about this film that is not so easily forgotten.
The full blog post goes into detail on the background and controversy surrounding Song of the South, and includes several screenshots of both the film and the Splash Mountain ride. There’s a good discussion going on in the comments section as well:
Thanks to Stephen Cooke for informing me of the blog post, and to David Kalat for posting it!
Quint over at Ain’t It Cool News has posted his Behind the Scenes Pic of the Day for Friday, entitled “Please don’t throw the Behind the Scenes Pic of the Day in that briar patch!”
This backlot photo features James Baskett (Uncle Remus), Bobby Driscoll (Johnny), Glenn Leedy (Toby), and Luana Patten (Ginny). It was also used in 1986 for Song of the South’s final theatrical release (as line art). This photo appears courtesy of the D23 fan club magazine.
Also of note is the article, in which Quint talks about speaking to an unnamed ex-Disney executive a few years ago, asking him if we’ll ever see this film released on DVD or Blu-Ray. “His response: ‘Never.’ I asked why. ‘Because it’s racist,’ he exclaimed. I know that’s the general perception of this film, but I was still taken aback. I thought for a second and asked, ‘Have you seen it?’ Incredibly he said he hadn’t and that right there is the root of the problem.”
Indeed, this is the exact problem that Disney has created by not releasing this film: it perpetuates the stigma surrounding this film. When Disney’s own executives haven’t seen this movie, yet condemn it as “racist”, something is wrong here. And with that I’ll step down from my soapbox too.
I would encourage everyone to read Quint’s short article that accompanies this great behind the scenes photo. Thank you to the anonymous person that alerted me to this article, and thanks to Quint over at Ain’t It Cool News for posting it!
Print edition of the New York Post article “Exclusively on YouTube”, published 4/7/2013,
Chief Film Critic Lou Lumenick of the New York Post recently published an article on April 7th titled “Exclusively on YouTube“, which chronicles a few different films that are, essentially, just that: movies that the studios have not released on video or DVD and live exclusively on YouTube.com.
One of those films is Disney’s Academy Award-winning and controversial movie “Song of the South”. I was contacted by Mr. Lumenick back in March to get my thoughts on this. Also contacted was Disney historian Jim Korkis (who recently published the book “Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South?“)
So, if you still haven’t seen Song of the South and don’t want to purchase one of the numerous bootleg copies available on the Internet, now’s your chance to go check it out on YouTube. It will be interesting to see whether Disney decides to tighten their enforcement.
The other films mentioned that are currently in the same boat as Song of the South are The Great Gatsby (1949), Christmas Holiday (1944), and Once in a Lifetime (1932). Here’s hoping that all of these pieces of cinematic history get the preservation they deserve and eventually make their way to a home video release. Special thanks to Lou for publishing this article!
The Projection Booth, a web site featuring podcasts on all things cinema, is discussing Song of the South in Episode 102, with special guests Bruce Bickley, Jim Korkis & Jason Sperb. Here is the description from the podcast page:
We celebrate Black History Month by looking at the controversial Disney film Song of the South. Based upon Joel Chandler Harris’s Uncle Remus tales, we discuss Ralph Bakshi’s satire, Coonskin, and the complicated history of the Zip A Dee Doo Dah movie.
You can listen to the podcast here:
Special thanks to Mike of the Song of the South Yahoo Group for letting us know!
“Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South?” by Disney Historian Jim Korkis
Disney Historian Jim Korkis, well known for his columns on MousePlanet.com (including articles about Song of the South, under the pseudonym Wade Sampson), has just released the first ever book primarily focused on the history of Walt Disney’s Song of the South.
The book, entitled “Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South?” weighs in at 291 pages, with nearly 100 pages dedicated to the history, controversy, secrets and more surrounding the film. The remaining chapters detail many, many other “forbidden stories” about Disney. You are guaranteed to learn a lot from this book (I certainly did!)
The foreword is written by Disney Legend Floyd Norman, Disney’s first African-American animator and storyman. The book is also praised by film critic Leonard Maltin, CartoonBrew.com webmaster Jerry Beck, MouseTracksOnline.com webmaster Greg Ehrbar, and yours truly.
The book is currently available on Amazon.com in paperback ($19.95) and digital Kindle edition ($7.99). If you are interested in Song of the South, or just Disney history in general, this book is an absolute must read!
My sincere thanks goes out to Jim for all his time and effort to make this book a reality, and to editor Bob McLain of Theme Park Press. Read the full press release here.