“Walt Disney Treasures: On the Front Lines” stands out from the rest of the Walt Disney Treasure releases simply because of its historical context. It contains 32 shorts and a full-length feature film “Victory through Air Power” originally released between 1941 and 1945. This makes “On the Front Lines” the most anticipated release of the Treasures series and rightly so. Shorts like “Education for Death” or “Der Fuehrer’s Face” have lost nothing of its potency and putting them into context really shows you the power of the media machine. Most of the material was made for propaganda purposes, supporting the war effort at home and some are educational hence the entertainment factor may not always be given but the historical context of these make them fascinating for generations to come.
Read on for a brief synopsis of the most prominent shorts or click here for the full DVD review over at eyecravedvd.com.
In “Der Fuehrer’s Face” (1942) (8:54) (Donald in Nazi Land was the previous title which got changed later), Donald wakes up as a Nazi and is forced to work by a soldier who shoves “Mein Kampf” into his face. Donald ends up in a factory at the conveyor belt checking shells and artillery at insane speed, shouting “Heil Hitler” every time “Der Fuehrer’s Face” passes by on one of the shells. Eventually, totally wrecked Donald slips out of this nightmare and wakes up back in his bed in good ole America.
“Education for Death” (1943) (10:10) must be Disney’s scariest short to date. It opens with the question “What makes a Nazi” and we see a German couple registering their newborn child Hans. We follow Hans on his way through childhood, his education from kindergarten to school, to marching and “heil”ing, more marching and more “heil”ing and then Hans’s education is complete, his education for death. This is one disturbing short. Be warned.
As far as propaganda goes these shorts contain material that you may consider tactless, ethnically dubious or outright racially offensive, you have to remember that this was made at a time of war and resemble a nations thoughts and sentiments at that given time and it is an integral part of America’s history. Leonard Maltin’s introduction on most of these shorts serve an important purpose of preparing the viewer for what he or she is about to see since an explanation may be necessary for most of the audience.
You cannot really watch everything in one go and so this DVD set will provide you with days filled with fantastic and intriguing viewing, some entertaining, even funny, others educational or even shocking but always fascinating.