In 1941, Walt Disney Studio was struggling
and the animators went on strike. During that time, the US
government asked Walt Disney to be a cultural ambassador to South America (in an attempt to make sure
that the countries didn’t side with Nazi Germany). Walt took 18 of
his key artists from the studio on the trip and gather material for animated films which lead to the making of SALUDOR AMIGOS. WALT & EL GRUPO is the
telling of that fascinating story of one part of the history of Walt Disney Studios.
The film uses 16mm movies that Walt Disney shot on the trip, photos, artwork produced during the trip, press clippings,
and interviews with the people still living (and their descendants).
WALT & EL GRUPO is a tale told from
both sides of the equator. Theodore Thomas (son of animator Frank Thomas, one of the El Grupo animators) is
able to tell this tale in a rich visual way. The trip had a last effect on Walt Disney Studios in addition to how
it made an impact on the USA and the world. SALUDOS AMIGOS was one of the films inspired by the trips and it stands
out against some of the usual Walt Disney animated fare of the time. I'm glad I know about this piece of Walt
Disney history. The animation hertiage of Walt Disney has a long and varied history. Thisdocumentary
is one you should watch with WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY to get two pieces in the history of Walt Disney Studios. Both
documentaries take place in times where teh studio was struggling only to keep rising like a phoenix.
the audio commentary is with director Theodore
Thomas and historian J.B. Kaufman (who also wrote a book on the story told in this documentary). Kaufman reveals the
South America trip was delayed due to the artists strike (and not the way the documentary makes it feel like Disney needed
to get away only to come back to a changed studio).
Three deleted scenes are included in the
extras in a section called FROM THE DIRECTOR'S CUT.
PHOTOS IN MOTION show rare photos are used
in various ways in help telling the film's story.
SALUDOR AMIGOS- the original 1942 release
version is included with Goofy smokinga cigar (removed from later versions). Rounding out the extras are the original
theatrical trailers for SALUDOR AMIGOS and THE THREE CABALLEROS.
FINAL ANALYSIS: WALT &
EL GRUPO is a fascinating tale of a trip that changed all who went on it including Walt Disney. It is a tale of
Walt Disney's history I haven't heard until now (but I have heard the Walt Disney was frozen myth which is repeated in the
this DVD review is (c)11-29-2010 David
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