Walt & El Grupo - DVD movie review

From Sept 26, 2013


As I've said, I'm a sucker for documentaries... I also love anything involving WWII era, so it's not surprising that I like it.

The film is directed by the son of Frank Thomas (one of Disney's Nine Old Men animators). He made a great documentary about the Disney Strike as well as the period just prior to the Disney Studio being taken over by the U.S. Government to make propaganda war films during WWII (yes, that actually happened). From wikipedia: “In 1941, the U.S. State Department sent Disney and a group of animators to South America as part of its Good Neighbor policy, at the same time guaranteeing financing for the resultant movie, Saludos Amigos.” (For more info on the Disney Strike, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disney_animators%27_strike)

‘Walt & El Grupo’ a great documentary with great info about the goings-on at the time, and it also has great music. 
Did I mention that it's great? No? Well, it is.

The film goes over how people from Latin America viewed Americans coming to their countries on “good will” tours (they didn’t appreciate them normally, it seems) and what they thought of Walt Disney in particular (they loved him).

There’s a good bit where they explain that for some reason there is a cultural myth in Latin America that Walt Disney was frozen at one point. They don’t explain if it was supposedly during his life or after his death, but the fact that the majority in Latin America believe this is interesting and funny.

They revisit many of the places caught in photographs from the Good Neighbor trip and many of the people involved, at one point even interviewing a man now in his 90s who was a 19-year-old male dancer at the time he taught Walt to do a traditional dance.

There are also many interesting stories about all the animators who went on the trip. In most cases, their children are interviewed but in some instances they have a widow who reads letters from the time. Very interesting film.