Sunday, April 9, 2006

Tha' mov'n pic-cha sho' is fantastic, massah!

So, as I was searching for a video clip of Firebird Suite from Fantasia 2000, I happened across these three clips from the original Fantasia--and I do mean the original. They were apparently edited out in the 1969 release, and if you watch them it's not terribly hard to figure out why. But as some are on dial-up and can't watch the videos from YouTube (they're also available for download here, near the bottom of the page; a total of 7 MB for all three clips), I've captured a screenshot for you:

A larger version is in black-and-white here.

This little servile negro centaur, Sunflower by name, is an obvious mish-mash of various stereotypes of blacks, including ones about watermelons:

(image taken from a Fantasia cut-out book)

It's not hard to figure out why they edited her out, although the way in which they do so is apparently rather awkward--they just zoom in on parts of the scene without her. The person who writes about that complains that it's distracting, although when I watched Fantasia I never noticed... but I was quite a bit younger the last time I saw it.

I'm not sure whether they should have kept her in, or even if they had the original version so that they could have restored her at this point. I understand that, being from 1940, this movie was just a product of its times; and I know that if they had restored her it could've potentially opened them up to lawsuits and protests (it is alleged that they scuttled plans to re-release Song of the South because Maya Angelou threatened to protest if they did, but I haven't seen this verified by any reliable source). I just find the contrast of Disney's completely family-friendly, G-rated image with its history rather amusing--probably why I bought The Uncensored Mouse.* I also find the billing of the DVD as the "original uncut version" ironic. Although I suppose they could say that it was "edited", even "censored", but not "cut" because all the scenes are still there, so it might not technically be false advertising.

*Speaking of Disney's history, I just found out that Der F├╝hrer's Face is now available on DVD, along with other Disney WW2 propaganda, which is what they actually call it.

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