In 1946, Disney released its latest feature film, "The Song of the South". This family film is a combination of live action and animated sequences and it depicts the story of a young white boy on a southern plantation and how Uncle Remus, an African American servant/slave, befriends the boy and teaches him valuable lessons in life through his colourful stories of Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear and Brer Fox. Since its initial release, the movie has had a tumultuous history but we may be seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.

At the time of its release, the film was hardly controversial as it was a product of its time. The term "slave" is never used in the movie but it is clear by the interactions between white and black characters of the master-servant relationship, so as society became more self-aware and politically correct, the movie fell out of favour. Despite this, the movie was re-released several times to theater-goers with its last appearance in 1986. After this release, the Disney Corporation essentially disowned the film. The film is not available in the USA in any form (VHS, Laserdisc, DVD). In fact the only evidence that the movie existed at all is the Disney Theme Park waterslide ride "Splash Mountain" (which only mentions the animated characters) and in audio compilations of some of the music from the movie ("Zip-a-dee-doo-dah").

If you are interested in finding a copy of this movie then you have two options: the legal way and the less-legal way.

The legal way includes finding a copy of either the UK VHS release (unfortunately this release is in PAL not NTSC, the standard in the US so you will need to convert it to NTSC somehow) or the Japan Laserdisc release (unfortunately you will need to have a Laserdisc player and while this release does have an English audio track, there are Japanese subtitles during the songs). Numerous used/sealed copies of these two formats exist on eBay.

The less-legal is to find a bootleg copy of the movie (usually in DVD form) produced by faceless and nameless people who are wishing to make illegal money off of this neglected Disney property. I'm sure it must exist on P2P file-sharing networks also.

I have watched eBay in the past for a good price on the Japan Laserdisc version but earlier last week I noticed an explosion of bootleg DVD copies on eBay. Someone was definitely trying to make some serious money off of it as there were no less than 20 auctions for the same product by the same person at a $19.99 "Buy It Now" price. I just looked today and all those auctions are gone so either Disney cracked down or someone reported it and eBay removed them.

One of the shadiest means would be to go to this site, however I have no idea of the source of this print (whether it was dubbed from the PAL VHS or the Japanese Laserdisc or from an actual film print, one of which sold for $8k on eBay in Jan 2005). I am sure Disney will eventually catch wind of this site and work on shutting it down. Before you consider purchasing the movie from the above-mentioned site, please read the rest of my entry for another possibility.

This movie does not exist legally in DVD format. But there may be something from Disney coming on the horizon. There is news out there that Disney recognizes this is their Number One most requested title of all time and are currently trying to figure out a good way to release it to DVD.

Talk of releasing it as part of a future wave of Disney Treasures may be one method, since a large amount of politically incorrect material (such as WWII propaganda shorts and rare racially inappropriate cartoons) has been released in the Treasures in which movie historian Leonard Maltin introduces the now-controversial material (and you can't skip through the Maltin introductions either on your DVD player, you are forced to sit through them). However, the Disney Treasures are usually limited release editions and the demand for this movie probably would exceed the typical 150,000 copies of previous Disney Treasures releases. Thus, it remains to be seen how the film will be released, but I anticipate that we will see this movie officially released in some form by Disney in 2006. Coincidentally, 2006 is the film's 60th anniversary so I consider it a lock... well, I remain hopeful anyway.

The news from Amazon is that this title is the second-most requested DVD of all their products (the most-requested DVD through Amazon is the Second Season of Twin Peaks!). If you're interested in helping give Disney the message that they should release this title, go to Amazon and put in your email address to be notified of the title's release - and do the same for Second Season Twin Peaks DVD too!

§12 · January 14, 2005 · Cartoons, Entertainment, Movies · · [Print]

Leave a Comment to “The Blog of the South”

  1. Rob says:

    Twin Peaks was just fine with one season. Is there anywhere that I can request that the second season not be released?

  2. Jeff Schiller says:

    The main murder isn’t even solved in the first season! The second season takes a sharp turn downwards in quality after Episode 16