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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>
RKO Radio Pictures (Disney's usual distributor) saw no profit in this movie, and refused to carry it. Walt Disney therefore contracted with United Artists for theater distribution. 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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Based on the book by Major Alexander de Seversky published in 1941, this film is basically Disney's vehicle for pressing De Seversky's military plan upon Roosevelt, Churchill and the people of America and Britain. De Seversky argued that we should use bombers to attack Axis factories, farms, lines of transportation and resources. Basically, he argued that America and England should begin killing civilians by the tens of millions. And it's a Disney film.
After a brief homage to General Billy Mitchell, the first major animated sequence of the film you've probably seen: "History of Aviation." It starts with the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, and documents the beginning of flight. It then moves on to the formation of the American Air Corps in 1908, early achievements in flight. It shows how aircraft were used in World War I, with the first surveillance planes, the first fighters and the first bombers.
The film moves on to give a history of World War II up to that point, but there are several factual errors, including a sequence where the German Army uses air cover and tanks to break the Maginot Line. In reality, Germany simply invaded France through Belgium. It shows that the invasion of Crete was a great victory for Germany, while it was actually a disaster that nearly failed.
The film then goes on to describe America's role in the war, describing America as the "Arsenal of Democracy." It argues that since American supply lines are thousands and thousands of miles long and German/Japanese supply lines are very short, Japan and Germany have a decided advantage over us. The solution? Stop attacking Hitler's tanks and soldiers, and begin attacking the factories, farms, workers and farmers which build those tanks and feed those soldiers.
The film has a decidedly unsettling tone about it. It begins as a typical Walt Disney cartoon documentary, light-hearted and funny, but it ends describing some of the most disturbing tactics of modern combat, such as blowing up dams to flood the enemy, and employing bombs that will cause earthquakes, perhaps a metaphor for nuclear weapons. It's definitely not for children.
The version found on The Disney Treasures set "On the Front Lines" is only 65 minutes long, and doesn't have the scene that argues that America is the greatest nation for aviators by insulting every nation in Europe, including our allies, France and Britain.
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