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A Walt Disney wartime propaganda look into the mind of Hans, a boy born into a German family. Watch as his attitude about the value of human life degrades as he is exposed to Hitler Youth and other Nazi organizations and attitudes. Written by
Brent Thomas <Bcthomas@io-online.com>
Along with Der Fuehrer's Face (1942) Disney once said that this film will never be released again in any format. However, both films have been released on a DVD set chronicling the studio's WWII films in 2004. See more »
One day, Hans became sick. His mother is praying that her son get well. She knows that the unfit are taken away by the state... and are never heard of again.
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Is this the scariest Disney wartime cartoon? Of the very few I've seen, it is.
The tone of most of the cartoon is pretty grim. How many others can you name that prominently feature a book-burning?
A boy is born to a German family. Much of the film is in German (!) -- high quality German too, by the way -- with English voice-over. A name must be chosen for the boy, once the parents have proven their Aryan ancestry, naturally. The chosen name can't be on the proscribed list, those Old Testament prophets so offensive to Aryans.
There is a comic interlude where Germany's saviour, Hitler in silver armour, rescues Germany from the evil witch, Democracy. Germany is personified by an unusually stout Brünnhilde from Wagner's Ring cycle, who sings the words "Heil Hitler" to the tune of the Valkyries' cries of "Heiaha" from Act III of "Die Walküre". This is an opportunity as well to parody that famous Nazi painting -- by whom I don't recall -- of Der Führer wearing a glorious suit of shining steel as did the chivalric heroes of yore. (The one where Hitler looks like an extra from Boorman's "Excalibur".)
We see the boy being indoctrinated into cruelty by his teacher at school. Then the boy happens to fall sick. That's not allowed in Nazi Germany; a German "soldat" does not get sick. That scene is very well animated. It reminded me of the endearing Darling family in "Peter Pan" (1953), not coincidentally directed by Clyde Geronimi too.
Eventually the boy does become a "soldat", one of a long line of interchangeable soldier faces, much like the row of gleaming boots in "Battleship Potemkin".
The soldiers march neatly in line over the brow of the hill, where they perform their final designated service to the Führer, by turning into a row of crosses.
Nothing terribly funny about this one, folks. For that, you'd need Donald Duck remakng Charlie Chaplin in "Der Fuehrer's Face" (1943).
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