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Walt Disney's Song of the South Movie Review

Updated on August 15, 2015
Disney's Song of the South
Disney's Song of the South | Source

Fast Facts

  • ACTORS: Ruth Warrick, Bobby Driscoll, James Baskett, Luana Patten, Lucile Watson
  • DIRECTORS: Wilfred Jackson, Harve Foster
  • STUDIO: Walt Disney
  • ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: November 12, 1946
  • RATED: G (General Audience)
  • RUN TIME: 94 minutes

What's The Mystery Behind Song of the South?

Walt Disney's Song of the South is a live-action movie with animated portions, based on African-American folktales by Joel Chandler Harris. The movie tells the story of a young boy who is learning about life from his Uncle.

The boy goes to the plantation that his grandmother owns and it is there that he meets his story-telling uncle. His uncle tells stories about three well-known Disney characters: Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox and Brer Bear.

This movie was Disney's FIRST live-action movie and since animation was Disney's strong suit at that time, it was felt that some portions of the movie should be animated. From this perspective, people consider the movie interesting and well done.

Also noteworthy is the fact that the music in Song of the South features some very popular, very good Disney music. Nominated for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture, it won an Oscar for Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah and an honorary Oscar for James Baskett, who played the uncle.

Finally, and most importantly, is the issue of racism. This movie was a product of its time and is, therefore, racist. Concerns regarding racism is reportedly WHY Disney has not reissued Song of the South. It depicts black people in the post-Civil War South in a manner considered offensive.

All of these factors add up to a movie that is in demand and one that is, despite having been reissued in 1956, 1972, 1980 and 1986, somewhat expensive. It has never been released on DVD and, therefore, demand for the existing stock of VHS videotapes drives the price up on those that are available. If you want to watch Song of the South now, you will have to watch on VHS videotape and you will have to pay a premium to do so.

On this page, learn more about Song of the South, watch the movie trailer, discover a bit more about the controversy and find out how you can go about watching it. I will admit to being curious. Are you?

Have YOU Seen Song of the South?

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Amazon Customer Star Ratings

I am not sure that I have ever seen such a glowing recommendation for a movie as shown in these star ratings or written reviews..

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Order Your Copy of Song of the South

Song of the South
Song of the South

"When I viewed Song of the South, I couldn't understand why Disney has caved in to social pressure over the 'offensive' content. The whole movie overflows with warmth and happiness and understanding, and if the Old South setting bothers some, they need to get over it. History is history, and to deny the positive message of this touching happy film is just tragic. The animation is UN-believable in how the characters mix in with the live-action! The song "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" is a classic, and the characters of Uncle Remus, Brer Bear, Brer Fox, and Brer Rabbit deserve to be discovered by a new generation!" ~ Charles M. Cornell

Like everyone else mentioned in previous reviews, I grew up with Uncle Remus. I remember the wise lessons Uncle Remus taught through Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox and Brer Bear. It had been 25 years since I first saw the movie and was fortunate to obtain a converted copy.

What I saw was a wonderful wise old man who loved children. I saw a small, frightened boy who came to love Uncle Remus.

What I failed to see were racist remarks or portrayals. Slavery was part of our history. It was wrong. What Disney beautifully portrayed was a rich, white boy who called slaves and a share cropper's daughter his friends while purposely avoiding the other rich white little children invited to his birthday party.

Since when is it considered racist to have children of different races and economic backgrounds holding hands and playing peacefully together? Wasn't that Dr. King's dream?

Please bring back Song of the South and allow future generations to find their "Laughing Place." ~ Karol Colbert

"Some critics argue that this movie is racist and even the current CEO of Disney called this movie fairly offensive. I see it like it is. It is a movie that portrays a period of history that involved slavery and the culture that comes with it." ~ Robert G. Ernst

Walt Disney's Uncle Remus Movie Soundtrack

Music from the original soundtrack, containing all of the songs from the movie including Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.

Walt Disney's Uncle Remus Record
Walt Disney's Uncle Remus Record | Source

Do you think Disney should reissue Song of the South?

Despite being extremely curious about Song of the South, I am not sure that it should be reissued. I find Roger Ebert's quote particularly thought provoking:

"Disney has made a corporate decision to hold "Song of the South" from release because of its stereotyping of some of the African-American characters, and I have expressed sympathy with that position because the film is directed primarily toward children who see films literally. I would not want to be an African-American child at a screening of the film, but I would support its screening for mature audiences."

I agree with what he says even though I have not seen the movie. However, knowing that many parents do not worry about what they show their children and that even movie theatres sell tickets to children who are under the recommended age, I do not believe that is possible to control who sees any movie. This brings us right back to the question at hand. Should Song of the South be reissued?

Do you think Disney should reissue Song of the South?

I remember Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah well and can sing along to the lyrics.

"Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay

My, oh, my what a wonderful day

Plenty of sunshine heading my way

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay

Mr. Bluebird's on my shoulder

It's the truth, it's actual

Everything is satisfactual

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay

Wonderful feeling, wonderful day."

Is Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah one of your favorite Disney songs?

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More Song of the South Reading

Uncle Remus Little Golden Book
Uncle Remus Little Golden Book

So. That's The Story. What Do You Think of Song of the South? - Is it a movie you would like to see? Should it be reissued? Or maybe you have seen it? Would you

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    • TreasuresBrenda profile image
      Author

      Treasures By Brenda 4 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: You're not alone with that thought, Dude!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I like it to be reissued so that I can have this in my video collection

    • javr profile image

      javr 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I think that Song of the South should be reissued.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Hi Brenda, congratulations on your Purple Star!

    • NYtoSCimjustme profile image

      NYtoSCimjustme 6 years ago

      I saw this movie in the theater when I was about 7 - close to 40 years ago, I loved it, it made me more accepting of the few black children that were in my school, and I never thought any differently about color - they were just people just like us. The lessons, the music, the vibrant story just proved that love crossed the boundary of color back then just as it does today. Sure wish I could bring it back to let my children see it too.

    • profile image

      Joan4 6 years ago

      I will be ordering a copy for our grandchildren. in VHS. Our children loved this movie. I don't think kids see racism in it.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 6 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I'm fairly sure I saw this movie a very long time ago, but I don't really remember it except for the music. I know the words too, Brenda, and will likely be singing Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah the rest of the day! I think that oftentimes people, adults, "protect" children from things that would in no way hurt them but, instead, would simply entertain them. If the race issue came up, then a family discussion about how life was in the 1940s (when the movie was made) would be in order. Again, I'd have to watch it for sure to decide if my instincts are wrong, but I really do suspect the controversy lies in the PC arena, which I would love to see burn down for the good of us all.

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 6 years ago

      I don't believe I have ever seen Song of the South in its entirety. Maybe I've seen snippets on TV many years ago. I'm not sure. I'd love to see it.

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 6 years ago

      I didn't realize it wasn't available on DVD. Bring it back!

    • TopMovieSoundtr profile image

      TopMovieSoundtr 6 years ago

      Brenda. I love it. I didn't know the complete story of why Disney's Song of the South was no longer available. Thanks for writing a lens about it and also providing an outlet through eBay to obtain a copy to view.