Looks like we’ve finally gotten our video issues sorted out. What better way to celebrate than with a clip from the ne’er-released-on-home-video film, Song of the South.
Folks call or come to the Wren’s Nest all the time wondering if we are indeed the Song of the South museum.
To these type questions and comments my stock response is this: “Have you heard of Pearl Harbor?” And of course they answer yes. Then, “Well what about Pearl Harbor starring Ben Affleck?” And then–“No, we do not sell the film.”
The degree of conflation of Song of the South (1946) and the Uncle Remus Tales (starting in 1876) is astonishing. With perhaps the exception of Gone With the Wind, the confusion between the source material and the film is unprecedented, in my humble opinion. No doubt this is because very few people have actually seen the film in the last 60 years.
The waiter behind the counter made it clear that he was a film enthusiast, and I mentioned that this film was a direct descendant of Song of the South, and he said, “Well yeah, but it’s just so terribly racist.”
It was unclear whether or not he’d actually seen the film, but this sort of confident dismissal happens all the time.
I’ve no shortage of opinions on the film, but today I’ll just leave you with some facts–
- The Harris family sold Disney the rights to adapt the Harris versions of the Brer Rabbit stories for $10,000 in 1939.
- Clarence Muse, a black actor and screenwriter, quit working on the film because of the screenplay’s treatment of black characters.
- Song of the South debuted at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta on November 12, 1946.
- Zip-a-Dee-Do-Dah won the Academy Award for Best Song in 1948.
- James Baskett (Uncle Remus) was awarded an honorary Academy Award in 1948 for his portrayal of Uncle Remus.
- James Baskett was the first live actor hired by Disney.
- The film is not banned, it’s just not been made available; Disney has re-released the film in theaters in 1956, 1972, 1981, and 1986. Up until 2001, the film was available for purchase in various international markets.
Have you seen the film? What do you think?
Links for further exploration–
AJC Article on Song of the South and the Wren’s Nest
Song of the South fan page with extensive links
The Wren’s Nest Ramblers versions of the Brer Rabbit stories