Disney Crosses with Politics: Review of Saludos Amigos

4th April, 2011 - Posted by DisAnim - Comments Off on Disney Crosses with Politics: Review of Saludos Amigos

This was the first film in the series that I hadn’t previously seen, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I understood from reading around that it was going to have several clips rather than a single coherent plot, which helped prepare me a bit. I wasn’t expecting a narrator explaining things in a touristy kind of way. I thought that even though there wasn’t a single plot, there would still be some sort of plot. But there’s not. Nevertheless, I still liked it. It was entertaining and funny; I laughed. And I enjoyed the fact that it was set in Latin America. But then again, I’m partial to that sort of thing. And I liked all of the Spanish and Portuguese untranslated. I recognize that I have an advantage in the fact that I understand Spanish… but I don’t understand Portuguese.

Some segments were more interesting than others, but because they were as short as they were, it didn’t take long for the boring ones to get over. The live action shots of the Disney crew visiting the different locations were a bit long at times, but overall they were informative and held the four segments together into a single film. Apparently the trip was partially funded by the US government seeking to build good international relationships. It was during World War II, of course, and not all Latin American governments were on the Allies’ side. For example, I found it amusing that Brazil was singled out as having a fantastic military in the film, with the comment that they would be ready in a world at war. And yet, Brazil was under the control of a fascist government at the time, so if they did enter the war it was very possible that it would have been against the United States.

Politically speaking, it was a good move as Saludos Amigos was very popular in Latin American countries at the time, particularly those that were featured in the film. Apparently Chile felt a little slighted, being represented by a puny airplane. This in part caused Chilean cartoonist René Ríos Boettiger to create Condorito, a rougher cartoon character. Condorito comics are still popular in Latin American countries today. For example, I saw more of Condorito in the Dominican Republic than I saw of Disney characters.

Probably my favorite story concerning the film’s production comes from Time magazine, when a musician drew an umbrella, trying to explain that he wanted to borrow one, the Argentine innkeeper brought steak and mushrooms. I guess the cartoonists had no problem communicating through drawing, but the musicians didn’t.

In the end, the film is what it is. And it is not a feature length film. But it is an amusing window into Latin America through the eyes of North American artists, which is exactly what it purports to be.

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