Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Saludos Amigos {1942}

{Animated Disney Film #6 of 52}

Saludos Amigos is sort of a mix of travelogue and Fantasia, with a bit more story. :)

This film (and the next on my list, The Three Caballeros) has a bit of interesting history behind it. Apparently there was a growing Nazi influence in Latin America in the early 1940s. So the US government commissioned Walt Disney to take a group of his artists/composers/etc. on a "goodwill tour" to South America, because Mickey Mouse and other characters were popular there. They hoped this would improve relations, or at least balance out the Nazi influence.

So Saludos Amigos was the first result of that trip. It's a 40 minute film divided into four sections, each featuring a different South American country. Each section has a bit of real travel footage that was filmed there, which is followed by a humorous animated section.

Let me just say that I know next to nothing about the countries, customs, and people of South America. (So if there's a mistake in the information here, please excuse it.) I really didn't know what to expect with this little film. It wasn't a favorite, by any means, but I did enjoy it more than I expected to.

Saludos Amigos focuses on parts of Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. The first part is about Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. This was probably of the most interest to me...Aida, the little girl who I sponsor through Compassion (she turns twelve next month!) lives in Bolivia. And in one of her most recent letters to me (which, of course, was still written months ago), she mentions that she and her family went to the city of La Paz and "had fun in a lake in a boat." After seeing this film, I can't help but wonder if it was Lake Titicaca that she was talking about! It was neat to make that little connection, anyway. :) The animated bit of this section features Donald Duck being a goofball. (Am I the only one who honestly can't understand half of what he's saying?) And there's a dancing llama. Yeah.

The second part was about Chile, and there was a fairly long animated section about a little mail airplane named Pedro. He has to go on his first flight through the (sometimes treacherous?) mountains to pick up air mail. The third part is about Argentina, or more specifically, the Argentine pampas. Goofy is an American cowboy who is floated down to learn the way of the gauchos there. (This part made me remember a story that was in one of my reading books in elementary school...I did some research and I think it was this one.)

The last part takes place in Brazil. The animated section is called "Watercolor of Brazil," and it was really lovely. Donald Duck is in it, as well as the new character José Carioca, but it's the animation that's really special...the scenes are "painted" by watercolor as the characters go along. As someone who's fascinated with the idea and look of watercolors, I just thought it was neat. :) Plus, I knew the song that was playing during most of it. It's called Brazil and is on one of my favorite vinyl records: Fancy Meeting You Here, performed by Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney. :)

Overall, I enjoyed Saludos Amigos. It's like a comedic travelogue. The live action bits of the different countries are interesting, since I don't know much about those areas. Also, it's unusual to see Walt Disney and the animators actually appearing in one of their films. :) That sort of thing is usually confined to special features. The animated bits are funny, with the pleasant narrator making calm, ironic remarks while Donald Duck and the others fumble around South America as American tourists. :) And there's tons of toe-tapping music.

Up next is another Latin American themed film: The Three Caballeros. I got these through Netflix, where they come lumped together on one disc. That means I watched them the same I hope I'm able to say something different about the next one than I've said here. :)

P.S. If you're interested in learning more about the goodwill tour that Disney took, they actually made a documentary about it several years ago called Walt & El Grupo. It's available on DVD and on Netflix!

Until next time,


  1. This is one of the few Disney movies I haven't seen: the only others are The Three Caballeros, The Black Cauldron, The Sword in the Stone, and Atlantis. None of them particularly interest me, but I suppose I'll get around to watching them someday so I can say that I've seen every theatrically released animated Disney film :)

  2. Nice review, Kristin. I hadn't even heard of this film until you started the animated Disney film review series and I looked up the complete list. Now, even if I never see it, I'll at least know what it's about. You make it sound more interesting than I imagined though, so maybe I will someday. :D


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