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!
View the News Archive for extra news articles from 2005 and older (no longer maintained).
A very interesting VHS copy of Song of the South surfaced last year at a yard sale. The following clip was posted on YouTube by MegaRock64 on 8/27/2013, and depicts what appears to be a promotional VHS tape dating to around 1995, including the Disney Masterpiece Collection logo:
The “Song of the South” typeface is identical to that used in the final theatrical release in 1986. It’s entirely plausible that the movie was slated to be released in 1996 for Song of the South‘s 50th anniversary. MegaRock64 has this to say about it:
Well well, you never know what you can find out in the wild, because it goes to show you can find gems like this one. This tape was used for promotional uses only by the distributors of the Walt Disney Company. According to the way it looks, this dates back to 1995, most likely to pair up with the release of “So Dear to my Heart” in 1994. As we all know, Song of the South was never supposed to see the light of day after the very last cinema showing in 1986. Bits of it leaked on various DVD’s such as the “One Hour in Wonderland” segment on the “Alice in Wonderland” DVD, and the short 8 second clip in “The Making of Fun and Fancy Free”. This tape has
1. FBI Warnings
2. Walt Disney Home Video Logo (1986)
3. Buena Vista Logo
Nothing appears at the end of this tape except a “END OF TAPE” bit showing the production stuff and all the other distribution info. So was Song of the South going to have an initial release? We will see soon or later. I have no clue about the origins of this tape, so if you know more, let me know!
If anyone has any additional information about this VHS, please contact me. Special thanks to Christian for the news report.
As you may remember, back in March 2012, Nostalgia Chick over at “That Guy With the Glasses” reviewed Song of the South. Now, Doug Walker has posted his own review of the movie, as part of Disneycember, in which they review the most influential and memorable live action Disney movies:
Doug, like myself, remembers seeing it as a kid in theaters back in 1986. Like Nostalgia Chick, his overall reaction, at least to the live action sequences, is “Meh,” but he urges people to pick up a copy for themselves and “make your own Zip-A-Dee-Conclusion.” Overall the review is entertaining, witty, and honest!
One thing to note: Doug refers to the African-Americans in the film as slaves, when in fact the movie is set in a post-Civil War South. This is a good example of why the film has gotten a bad reputation—some people believe the film depicts slavery. Special thanks to Kyle Blanchette for the news report!
It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Walt Disney’s oldest daughter, Diane Disney Miller. Diane was born to Walt and Lillian Disney in 1933. She passed away at the age of 79 from injuries sustained in a fall. Diane is survived by her husband Ron W. Miller, seven children, 13 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
Song of the South, Diane recollected, “…was a film [Walt] really wanted to do. My dad quoted so much from Uncle Remus’ logic and philosophy.”
We extend our sincere condolences to the Miller family, and thank Diane for everything she accomplished to carry on the legacy of her father. Diane was instrumental in the creation of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, CA and the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, CA. She will be missed.
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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.
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!
“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!
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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:
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!