Hello and welcome to In Too Deep Into Disney, where I over-analyse every animated Disney film over the course of a year.
And this week we’re watching… something called Sauldos Amigos. Hands up all those that knew that this even existed, let alone have watched it. And hands up those that know why it even exists in the first place. So can I squeeze the average sized blog out of so little? Well lets find out.
First off, lets talk about it’s length. It’s about 43 minutes long, so almost the average length of a TV episode. Now 43 minutes is pretty darn short for a movie, but that’s only because we’re judging that by modern day standards. Because back when this film first came out, TV wasn’t a thing. At least not something ubiquitous with everyday home life (my barometer for that being 1952 when the Queen’s Coronation was broadcast and everyone in England watched it for patriotic reasons). In fact it was a common past time to go to the movies every Saturday morning to watch the latest of cartoons, in which Walt Disney had made his first big break. So to a contemporary audience, the idea of watching a film only 43 minutes in length didn’t seem that unusual. Of course times have changed now, with only Disney and Pixar continuing the trend of short cartoons before movies. And yes, I know other kids movies do the same, but it was Pixar that really got the ball rolling when it came to doing stuff like that all over again. So Sauldos Amigos does show how different audiences from different times can view the same piece of work in different ways.
But there is one other important thing to note about this film: It’s war propaganda designed to keep Latin America on the side of the Allies. Again, nothing to really elaborate on, just a fun little fact that shows why this film was made in the first place. They created four unique shorts and put them together with footage they filmed of the area to justify the themes of the shorts. So there you go. The only Disney film to be officially classed as propaganda. Now onto the shorts.
Lake Titicaca: Donald Duck goes to a lake and meets up with the locals there before engaging in all sorts of wacky hi-jinks. This is one of those shorts that really does highlight why people like Donald Duck so much more than Mickey Mouse. Whilst Mickey Mouse is a non-entity of a character (who I’ll talk about when we get to his last theatrical appearance) Donald Duck is always fun to watch since he represents that hair-breath trigger we all have inside of us. He represents that impulse we have to just go nuts sometimes and lash out at a cruel, unforgiving world. But is this short really the best example of it? No, probably not. So lets move onto the next one.
Pedro: Very much a modern-day fairy tale, well, modern for its time at least. You have the father, the mother and the son. The son has to prove himself as a grown adult by taking on the role of the father, whilst learning how to do his job properly and avoiding the usual monster imagery found in fairy tales. I mean the giant mountain is just like all those classic fairy tale monsters that the parents warn their kids about. It even has a fairy tale ending that makes no sense but still makes us cheer anyway. Nothing more to be said than that it’s a fairy tale.
El Gaucho Goofy: Just like any standard Goofy short really, when you get right down to it. But whilst we’re here, lets ask the question of why Goofy is such a popular character. And it is an interesting question. Truth be told there may be a little bit of pride when it comes to seeing Goofy hurt himself yet again. It gives us a smug sense of superiority over those more foolish than us. It is one of the reasons why idiot characters are so popular amongst our popular culture. We feel better than them, ergo we love watching them make fools of ourselves. Goofy certainly wasn’t the first character to ever be like this, but he is one of the longer-lasting ones, just due to how tied in he is with our childhood (who didn’t know who Goofy was growing up). But the other reason the character has survived for so long is the innocence about him. There is a complete lack of malice to be found in Goofy (making him the perfect offset to Donald, since it makes Donald’s outbursts larger and funnier in comparison). He is forever innocent, so when he gets hurt, we know it’s just to terrible bad luck than anything else. We do feel bad for Goofy, but not malicious at his misfortunes. Hence why Goofy, the idiot character who is just so innocent, is so popular.
Aquarela do Brazil: What can be said here except is was doing Duck Amuck before Duck Amuck was doing Duck Amuck. A lot of it is a play on the good old fashioned fourth wall, having everything being drawn to life and have Donald interfere with the paintbrush. Of course not to the ground-breaking extent of Duck Amuck (which proved that Daffy’s character and personality could survive whatever you throw at it, even when he no longer even looks like Daffy). But this is just a coincidence, nothing more. On the whole there’s nothing really more to this short, or to this movie.
So there you have it. A look at the often forgotten Sauldos Amigos. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.