Song of the South

Song of the South is a 1946 American live-action/animated musical comedy-drama film directed by Harve Foster and Wilfred Jackson, produced by Walt Disney, and released by RKO Radio Pictures. It is based on the Uncle Remus stories as adapted by Joel Chandler Harris, and stars James Baskett as Uncle Remus in his final film role. The film takes place in the U.S. state of Georgia during the Reconstruction era, a period of American history after the end of the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery. The story follows seven-year-old Johnny (Bobby Driscoll) who is visiting his grandmother's plantation for an extended stay. Johnny befriends Uncle Remus, an elderly worker on the plantation, and takes joy in hearing his tales about the adventures of Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox, and Br'er Bear. Johnny learns from the stories how to cope with the challenges he is experiencing while living on the plantation. Walt Disney had wanted to produce a film based on the Uncle Remus stories for some time. In 1939 he began negotiating with the Harris family for the film rights, and in 1944, filming for Song of the South began. The studio constructed a plantation set, for the outdoor scenes, in Phoenix, Arizona, while other scenes were filmed in Hollywood. The film is predominantly live action, but includes three animated segments, which were later released as stand-alone television features. Some scenes also feature a combination of live action with animation. Song of the South premiered in Atlanta in November 1946 and the remainder of its initial theater run was a financial success. The song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" won the 1947 Academy Award for Best Original Song and Baskett received an Academy Honorary Award for his performance as Uncle Remus. Since its initial release the film has attracted controversy, with critics characterizing its portrayal of African Americans and plantation life as racist. As a result of the film's controversial legacy, Disney has not released Song of the South on any home video format in the United States, and the film has never been available on its streaming platform Disney+. Some of the musical and animated sequences have been released through other means, and the full film has seen home video distribution in other countries, as well as fan-made 4K remasters that can be viewed at the Internet Archive. The cartoon characters from the film continued to appear in a variety of books, comics, and other Disney media for many decades after the film's release. The theme park ride Splash Mountain, located at Tokyo Disneyland and formerly located at Disneyland and Magic Kingdom, is based on the film's animated sequences.

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