#6 Saludos Amigos

#6 Saludos Amigos

Pack your bags – we’re going on a trip!

This week we look at Saludos Amigos and kick off a series of “package films” that constitute the rest of the 1940’s. These package films are made up of several short segments, rather than one single plot. Saludos Amigos has perhaps the most interesting origin of any Disney film as it is based on foreign policy: the State Department actually commissioned Disney to make the film as part of the Good Neighbor Policy, hoping that it would help to curb South America forming ties with Nazi Germany. Saludos Amigos is sort of part documentary, part film, going back and forth from animated segments to actual footage of the animators journey and the people of South America. Apparently, it really opened the eyes of American audiences to South American culture. Supposedly (according to Wiki, I don’t know if there’s really a way to tap into in-the-moment audience perception without a time machine), audiences were surprised to see footage that depicted skyscrapers, big buildings, shopping, and other modern things, which is like a whole other thing to unpack, but I think it’s cool if this film actually did have an impact and showed that South American cities were just as developed as North American and European ones.

While Fantasia was a film I hadn’t see but had definitely heard of and knew a little about since I was a kid, I didn’t know Saludos Amigos (and all the package films, actually) existed until a few years ago. It’s only 41 minutes long, so if you’d like to watch along, it won’t take you long. Let’s take off!

My thoughts on Saludos Amigos:

  • Oh dear how culturally insensitive is this going be
  • I never thought about how long Christ the Redeemer has been around but I’m surprised to see it in a movie in the 40s
  • This is more documentary-like and informative than I thought
  • Ok this isn’t SO bad
  • “their music is strange and exotic” hmmm
  • Llamas!!!!
  • “a llama can make you feel awfully unimportant”
  • Donald is annoying
  • “the visitor is never satisfied until he tries on the native’s costume” well, at least they’re self-aware about their appropriation
  • How did Donald not realize he was on a bridge until he was in the middle of it??
  • I feel like Donald is constantly self-sabotaging, no matter what movie he shows up in, he should really go to therapy for that
  • The landscape artwork is really pretty and it’s pretty amazing if they did that from memory
  • The planes look like the planes in Planes
  • That was a Disney movie right? Yes, it was
  • Strange how certain movies (usually those from the Walt Disney Animation studio) are just like forgotten and never mentioned again….
  • I’d feel bad for them if they weren’t probably lame (tbh i don’t think I’ve seen many)
  • This family of planes is cute
  • “Powerful male plane” vs “female plane” not so cute
  • A baby plane!!! Named Pedro!!
  • “He was taught anatomy” *shows airplane model* HA that’s a good visual gag
  • TIL that Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere
  • Author’s Note: Aconcagua wound up being part of a question on the Jeopardy online test so WOW thanks Saludos Amigos
  • Between learning about the altitude and winds of Lake Titicaca and these mountains, this movie is teaching me more about geography than expected
  • Pedro’s going on his first big flight!
  • Picking up the mail
  • Wow there’s a statue marking the boundary of Chile and Argentina in the mountains
  • Pedro got his mail! Good job!
  • Oh now he dropped it
  • “that’s precious cargo” is it though? Isn’t it probably just like letters? Important to people but not like vital information
  • Did…are they suggesting the mountain made it rain?
  • Pedro is risking his life for the mail, boy loves his job

The Narrator At Any Point During the Pedro Sequence:

  • Can Pedro hear the narrator? Or is he like a sports commentator who is watching in real time but can’t be heard?
  • “I knew you could make it!” this narrator is his biggest fan
  • Oh no he’s out of gas
  • *whisper* “he’s gone”
  • This got dramatic
  • Aww pedro i know you’re not dead
  • And he’s back! Wow! Didn’t see that coming!
  • The narrator just called him “Petey boy” lol What?
  • The MAIL
  • “the mail that all important cargo” okay narrator
  • It’s one postcard! I knew it wasn’t going to be anything important!
  • Well, good job pedro
  • “Flew happily ever after” aww
  • “Buenos Aires – the third largest city in the Western Hemisphere” I’m learning so much!
  • I like the actual footage of the people
  • This portion on the gauchos seems really informative
  • This dance part is interesting, I like that it’s focused on a culturally traditional dance that’s been taught for generations
  • And they point out that it’s similar to old line dances in North America, it’s funny how some things are kind of universal
  • Ok little interest in goofy and the horse
  • I like that the narrator is giving the Spanish words for everything

Anyway, here’s Wonderwall…

  • Where did the horse get a horse-sized dress from??
  • WAIT – Goofy is a dog, why does he have human feet?!!
  • I like when they show the sketches and concept art of the landscapes, it’s really pretty
  • I really like when the movie shows live footage
  • Oh my goodness these Carnival floats are amazing!
  • There’s a whole sequence on the landscape, flowers, and animals of Brazil, and it’s so colorful and pretty!
  • Jose’s enthusiasm is cute but no person (or bird) would be that excited to meet Donald
  • He’s like the least cool member of the Mickey Mouse gang and notoriously grumpy
  • So Jose can play his umbrella like a flute? The talent
  • And like a guitar?? Love a multifaceted tool
  • Love this day drinking and cigar smoking in this kids film
  • Ok that wasn’t as bad as i thought it would be

So, Saludos Amigos was definitely an intriguing film. It’s like part animated movie, part documentary, part geography lesson, part presentation on South American traditions and customs. I didn’t find it to be very disrespectful of exploitative, which was a nice surprise, and it was actually very informative. I think the biggest critique I have is that (based on the credits, I don’t know how the team worked on their trip nor back at the Disney HQ) it doesn’t seem like they involved many animators/musicians/creators of South American descent; I know that’s a general issue with the time period, but if they were making a film focused on a certain place, I feel like they should have people working on it…from that place?

BUT, that South American spirit isn’t going anywhere, because next week brings The Three Caballeros!

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