Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cartoon a Day: The Spirit of '43

The Spirit of '43
Directed by Jack King (uncredited)
Available on: Walt Disney Treasures - On the Front Lines

We continue with out look at the animation studios contribution to the war effort with Disney's "The Spirit of '43." This short begins as a Donald Duck film. It's pay day and Donald has a big wad of cash. Of course, according to cartoon tradition, two alternated versions of our main character come out to tell Donald how what to do with his money. The thrifty version is telling him to save his money so he has enough for taxes, while the "spendthrift" wants him to live it up.

The very vivid imagery you'd expect in a war propaganda short begins when Donald realizes that the swinging doors of the saloon he's being lured to are in the shape of a swastika. From there the film takes on a style more like Disney's animated propaganda feature "Victory Through Air Power."

What follows is very stylized animation of factories producing shells and "guns, guns, guns." The sequence of enemy planes and ships being shot down are very dark and not at all what you would expect from Disney. The large metal Nazi monster is an image that looks more like the animation from "Pink Floyd: The Wall" than something the house of the mouse would produce.

I'm sure this short achieved it's purpose. People probably felt a bit more spirited about paying their taxes..."taxes to sink the axis." It definitely takes an interesting approach, combining a beloved character with horrific and ultimately very patriotic imagery.

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