This is a unique film in Disney Production's history. This film is essentially a propaganda film selling Major Alexander de Seversky's theories about the practical uses of long range strategic bombing. Using a combination of animation humorously telling about the development of air warfare, the film switches to the Major illustrating his ideas could win the war for the allies. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
All of Alexander de Seversky's live-action monologue sequences were filmed on the Disney backlot late at night to avoid noise pollution from the nearby Lockheed aircraft factory. See more »
The film claims the German's used air power to break through the Maginot line to conquer France. In reality, the German forces avoided directly engaging the Line and instead completely circumvented it. See more »
Today, a war is very different than the last European war was. Now air power is the dominant feature of military operations. Air power can fly directly to the vital centers of an opposing state and neutralize them. It can destroy the cities, it can wreck the aqueducts, it can knock out the lines of communication, it can destroy the food supplies, and make the people helpless to resist.
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When I was about 13 years old around 1978, our school teacher had our class watch a 16mm print of the first part of Disney's "Victory Through Air Power", which is all in animation and is about the history of aviation. I loved it. In the decades since, I'd always clearly remembered the comical shot of an early WWI fighter plane pilot using a machine gun before the technology to synchronize machine guns with propellers had been developed.
When I became interested in Disney animation several years ago, I hoped to find a copy of that one. But I learned that it had never been released on any videotape or videodisc format, and that my only glimmer of hope of ever seeing it again was to buy a 16mm film projector and find an old 16mm print, and probably pay a lot for it. More than any other, this title had me seriously thinking about doing that.
It's been some time since I've kept up with new DVD releases. I was shopping at Costco today and stumbled across some of Disney's "Treasures Limited Edition" tins. I already had some of those, but I noticed that these were titles I hadn't seen before. I tossed the Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck titles into my cart, passed on one that was about Tomorrow Land, and dug through to make sure I hadn't missed any. I could hardly believe my eyes when I picked up one that said "On the Front Lines" and "The War Years". My first thought was to wonder if it included that aviation history I had seen in 1978. I turned it over and yes, it said it included not only the aviation history part I had seen then, but the entire film!
Somewhat in a daze, I went straight to the checkout line, then straight home, then straight to the DVD player. Even my wife watched it with me, I guess because she could see how excited I was about it.
I loved it in 1978 on 16mm, and I loved it again in 2004 on DVD. It's at once an interesting history, attractive animation, and fun entertainment. I was also interested to see the realism in animation of planes I had learned about over the years.
The live action part was also very interesting and well worth watching, if a little on the tedious side at times, especially for my wife. It's certainly very interesting to consider how this movie may have changed the course of the war, or more precisely, this movie may have brought enough attention to the book that inspired it, and to that book's brilliant and prophetic author, to have changed the course of the war.
It was so interesting, I plan to watch it again soon -- though my wife probably won't.
I'm struggling to articulate how it feels to suddenly stumble across this title on a very well-made DVD, after not seeing it at all for 26 years and having more or less given up any serious hope of ever seeing it again. It's still almost a little hard to believe.
When I looked up this DVD title on the web, I was a little startled to find that I had bought it on the very day it was released! (May 18th, 2004)
It looks like Disney has let the earlier "Treasures Limited Edition" tins go out of print, and undoubtedly they will do the same with "On the Front Lines". If you have any interest at all in aviation history, and/or in WWII, and/or in rare Disney animation gems, then "On the Front Lines" is a must-have, just for Victory Through Air Power. (I haven't even watched most of the shorts on the DVD yet.)
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