Uncle Remus draws upon his tales of Brer Rabbit to help little Johnny deal his confusion over his parents' separation as well as his new life on the plantation. The tales: The Briar Patch, The Tar Baby and Brer Rabbit's Laughing place.Written by
Paul Penna <email@example.com>
Walt Disney had long wanted to make a film based on the Joel Chandler Harris stories of "Uncle Remus", but it was not until the mid-1940s that he had found a way to give the stories an adequate film equivalent in scope and fidelity. "I always felt that Uncle Remus should be played by a living person", Disney commented, "as should also the young boy to whom Harris' old Negro philosopher relates his vivid stories of the Briar Patch. Several tests in previous pictures, especially in The Three Caballeros (1944), were encouraging in the way living action and animation could be dovetailed. Finally, months ago, we 'took our foot in hand,' in the words of Uncle Remus, and jumped into our most venturesome but also more pleasurable undertaking." The film represented Disney's first foray into live-action filmmaking with story, drama, depth, and heart, although it features animated sequences of the adventures of Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox, and Br'er Bear. Treasure Island (1950), four years later, would be Disney's first all live-action motion picture. For Song of the South, Disney pulled out all the stops to hire the best and well accomplished in Hollywood to work on the film's live-action sequences, including the legendary cinematographer Gregg Toland (The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Citizen Kane (1941), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), The Long Voyage Home (1940), Wuthering Heights (1939)). See more »
Before Uncle Remus tells the story about the Laughing Place, the mud on Ginny's dress disappears and reappears between shots. See more »
There's other ways of learning about the behind feet of a mule than getting kicked by them, sure as I'm named Remus. And just because these here tales is about critters like Br'er Rabbit an' Br'er Fox, that don't mean they ain't the same like can happen to folks! So them who can't learn from a tale about critters, just ain't got the ears tuned for listening.
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This film will never receive a clean bill of political correctness, but neither will any film made before the 1960s. In fact, Song of the South presents some of the least offensive portraits of African Americans you can find from the time. If you really need to compare, go find any other film starring Hattie McDaniel start with Gone With the Wind and note how much more dignity she has in the Disney movie. Uncle Remus (James Baskett, who is utterly, utterly exceptional) is perhaps the most charming character you'll find. He's much more stereotypical of an elderly man than a black man. A smart man with strong morals and a clever way of delivering them, he seems to see things more clearly than anyone else in the film. No, Uncle Remus is a kind man who loves humanity, and this love is infectious. The movie made me very happy to be alive. A more politically correct version of the film would have him rebelling against white society with violence. It's kind of sad that we can't abide blacks and whites actually getting along, preaching brotherhood. The live action bits are very good (although I think Bobby Driscoll is a bit weak in the lead), but it is the animated pieces (and the live action/animation sequences) that make Song of the South great. Br'er Rabbit, Fox, and Bear are wonderful characters, and these three segments represent some of the best animation Disney ever did. The mixed scenes are amazing (was this the first time it was done?). I especially liked when Uncle Remus went fishing with Br'er Frog. Uncle Remus lights his pipe with an animated flame, and blows an animated smoke ring that turns into a square (which is, of course, also politically incorrect). I suspect that the biggest reason this film stirs so many negative emotions is the black dialect used in the film. I think that bugs people a lot. Really, though, blacks from the rural South have and have had their own accents and ways of speaking just as they have and have had in any other region. While the accents in this film are somewhat fabricated, I'm sure, I think that it would be a far cry to think of them as harmful to anybody. The hurt that people feel over this movie is the real fabrication, induced by PC thugs who seem to want to cause rifts between peoples. I think that a re-release of Song of the South could possibly have a beneficial effect on race relations in the United States, as it does depict dear friendships and respect between the races, something that I think we quite need at the moment.
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