Let’s take a little trip down memory lane with Disney and this incredible film. How much this film did to influence the free world is debatable but what it does do is show it’s contempt for the Nazi regime and the indoctrination of Germans into the Nazi way of thinking. By the end of this film one is supposed to think that all german soldiers have no heart at all and are “nazi robots”. We all know differently now although many german soldiers were so indoctrinated they “just followed orders” without any thought that what they were doing were crimes against humanity.
What this film shows to me and why I posted it here is to demonstrate the power of art, in particular animation. The use of humor and drama in the same piece is brilliant especially the segment of a cartoony Hitler and an obese female as a symbol of Germany. The animation is brilliant as are the characterizations. And while we can view this seventy years later and chuckle at the ridiculous theatrics it probably stirred up fervent nationalism in American audiences when it appeared in theaters across America.
During the war years, Disney and his organization, were responsible for scores of war-training and war-propaganda movies for the navy, army, and especially the air force. Disney had read the book, “Victory Through Air Power, written by a Russian author, Alexander P. DeSeversky, that became the basis for the most pivotal of Disney’s war films, and that gave strong persuasion for the success inherent in airpower. When Bambi was finally completed, a long project, he immediately started to work on the movie “Victory Through Airpower,” Seversky even coming in to assist. He [Disney] applied his skill to explaining bomb sights and factory methods with the “same zeal that he had to recounting the exploits of Mickey Mouse and Snow White.” The Dwarves themselves were actually featured on a war film produced during that time period. Donald Duck also was used in a cartoon where he wakes up from a dream working in a Germany munitions factor, with a song and the famous duck saluting Adolph Hitler. It delighted audiences, although it was banned in Germany.
The Disney team often did their wartime work with little thought to making money. Disney animators designed 1,400 insignia emblems for military uniforms at the mere cost of $25 each, making no money on the project. “I had to do it,” Disney is quoted as saying, “Those kids grew up on Mickey Mouse, I owed it to them.” The ideology of heavy use of air power, was part of Disney’s philosophy for the war, and his movies on this subject had a profound influence on Winston Churchill, who sent to the United States for a copy of Disney’s war film. This led to a decision by Churchill in the use of airpower, which broke a deadlock in war strategy, when the United States and Britain were planning assaults on Germany. Churchill was in conference at the time with Roosevelt. The Disney movie proved to be the tie-breaker, and a huge air offensive was planned and implemented; it proved to be a part of the Allied forces winning strategy for D-Day. Roosevelt was amazed by the way Disney’s airplanes masterfully wiped ships off the seas. The Joint Chiefs of Staffs also viewed the film and it had a powerful influence on their war plans.
Details of ways to eliminate hydropower dams of the enemy were visualized by Seversky and animated by Disney, before actually carried out by the Royal Air Force, who went on to bomb the Rhineland dams, in almost the exact method proposed by Seversky and later in Disney’s films. When Walt was in Washington he was invited to a meeting with high naval offices who complained about his neglect of naval power and emphasis on air power. Walt stuck to his strong support for air power and it continued to be a major theme of his war effort in animated films until the end of World War II, when Disney studios resumed their emphasis on children’s cartoons.
Segment source: Winmentalhealth.com