A potential DVD release for the controversial 1946 Disney film Song Of The South got a voice of support last night from Roy E. Disney, nephew of Walt Disney.
Speaking at the 16th Annual Philadelphia Film Festival, where he was receiving the fest’s Inspiration Award, Disney stated that a home video release of the film is overdue.
“I’ve got a bunch of cohorts working with me to convince the powers that be that it’s the smart thing to do,” Disney told the crowd at Philadelphia’s Prince Music Theatre.
Disney’s remarks comes on the heels of a statement made by current Disney President and CEO Bob Iger at the company’s annual shareholder’s meeting last month in New York City where he stated that the company was reviewing the film for a possible release.
Song Of The South has never seen an official home video release in the United States, despite the fact that it was one of Disney’s first films to employ live action actors. Its song “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” won an Academy Award for Best Original Song while star James Baskett was awarded an honorary Oscar for his work as the kindly Uncle Remus. The film has come under criticism for its alleged racist treatment of Southern plantation African-Americans, though many of these criticisms erroneously place the film’s setting pre-Civil War instead of its actual post-Civil War, Reconstruction era. Although Disney announced in a 1970 Variety article that they were “retiring” the movie, it did receive additional theatrical re-releases in 1972, 1981 and 1986. Currently, illegal bootlegs of a 1980s Japanese laserdisc release of the film converted to DVD currently in circulation remain the only way that people can see the film.
Disney’s father Roy O. Disney co-founded Disney Studios with his more famous brother Walt. Roy E. Disney worked at the studio for numerous years as an editor and producer and oversaw the studio’s resurgence in animated feature films in the 1980s through the release of such films as The Lion King and Aladdin.
“[Song Of The South] is a wonderful film that deserves to be back out in the public,” stated Disney. “All it needs is context. Some of that animation is stunning, even by today’s standards.”