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A marching band of Germans, Italians, and Japanese march through the streets of swastika-motif Nutziland, serenading "Der Fuehrer's Face." Donald Duck, not living in the region by choice, struggles to make do with disgusting Nazi food rations and then with his day of toil at a Nazi artillery factory. After a nervous breakdown, Donald awakens to find that his experience was in fact a nightmare. Written by
David Gerstein <email@example.com>
In this marvelously surreal and funny short, Donald Duck is a subject of Nazi Germany, forced to make munitions for the Reich. He has to endure abysmal food rations (wooden bread, Aroma of Bacon and Eggs, and coffee brewed from a single bean), superhuman workloads, 30 seconds of forced calisthenics for his "vacation", and an unrelenting barrage of Hitler portraits which he must hail unfailingly - or else! It's all too much for Donald, who has a nervous breakdown, and the film disintegrates into a bizarre phantasmagoria of dancing missiles and stomping boots. Thankfully, it was all just a bad dream, and Donald is relieved to see that the hailing shadow on the wall is cast by his Statue of Liberty on the window sill. As he kisses it he proclaims, wearing his star-spangled jammies, "Am I glad to be a citizen of the United States of America." This cartoon, perhaps the most savagely satirical Disney ever made, was a sensation in its day, winning the Oscar and spawning a hit song. After the war, however, it was shelved and kept out of public circulation - and not without reason. Now it has been released on DVD as part of the excellent Walt Disney Treasures collection, "Walt Disney on the Front Lines", for discerning film buffs to enjoy. Many will find it disquieting to see a beloved American icon wearing a brownshirt uniform with swastika armband, hailing pictures of Hitler, and goose stepping to work; but then, Donald doesn't seem too thrilled about it, either. In no way does this cartoon promote Nazism. Instead, it punctures its pretensions of superiority by reducing its brutality to absurd slapstick, turning its Ubermensch into buffoonish caricatures. (Bear in mind that at the time of this cartoon the true extent of Hitler's inhumanity was unknown to the Allied countries.) As Mel Brooks has noted, the best way to deal with monsters like Hitler is to laugh at them. So go ahead and laugh, laugh, right at Der Fuehrer's Face.
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