Learning from Mickey, Donald and Walt

Essays on Disney’s Edutainment Films

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About the Book

Throughout its long and colorful history, Walt Disney Studios has produced scores of films designed to educate moviegoers as well as entertain them. These productions range from the True-Life Adventures nature documentaries and such depictions of cutting-edge technology as Man in Space and Our Friend the Atom, to wartime propaganda shorts (Education for Death), public-health films (VD Attack Plan) and coverage of exotic cultures (The Ama Girls, Blue Men of Morocco). Even Disney’s dramatic recreations of historical events (Ten Who Dared, Invincible) have had their share of educational value. Each of the essays in this volume focuses on a different type of Disney “edutainment” film. Together they provide the first comprehensive look at Walt Disney’s ongoing mission to inform and enlighten his worldwide audience.

About the Author(s)

A. Bowdoin Van Riper is a historian specializing in depictions of science and technology in popular culture. He is the reference librarian at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, and is the author or editor of a wide range of volumes, ranging from science to science fiction to horror.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by A. Bowdoin Van Riper
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 274
Bibliographic Info: chart, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-5957-5
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8475-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix

Introduction

A. BOWDOIN VAN RIPER      1

Section I: War and Propaganda

1. The Canadian Shorts: Establishing Disney’s Wartime Style

BELLA HONESS ROE      15

2. “Desiring the Disney Technique”: Chronicle of a Contracted Military Training Film

DOUGLAS A. CUNNINGHAM      27

3. Cartoons Will Win the War: World War II Propaganda Shorts

RICHARD J. LESKOSKY      40

4. Cartoon Combat: World War II, Alexander de Seversky, and Victory Through Air Power

JOHN D. THOMAS      63

Section II: Science, Technology, Mathematics and Medicine

5. The Promise of Things to Come: Disneyland and the Wonders of Technology, 1954–58

A. BOWDOIN VAN RIPER      84

6. A Nation on Wheels: Films About Cars and Driving, 1948–1970

A. BOWDOIN VAN RIPER      103

7. “A Journey Through the Wonderland of Mathematics”: Donald in Mathmagic Land

MARTIN F. NORDEN      113

8. Paging Doctor Disney: Health Education Films, 1922–1973

BOB CRUZ, JR.      127

Section III: Nature

9. “Nature is the Dramatist”: Documentary, Entertainment, and the World According to the True-Life Adventures

EDDY VON MUELLER      145

10. Sex, Love, and Death: True-Life Fantasies

RONALD TOBIAS      164

11. It Is a Small World, After All: Earth and the Disneyfication of Planet Earth

EDDY VON MUELLER      173

Section IV: Times, Places and People

12. A Past to Make Us Proud: U. S. History According to Disney

MARIANNE HOLDZKOM      183

13. Reviving the American Dream: The World of Sports

KATHARINA BONZEL      201

14. Beyond the Ratoncito: Disney’s Idea of Latin America

BERNICE NUHFER-HALTEN      209

15. Locating the Magic Kingdom: Spectacle and Similarity in People and Places

CYNTHIA J. MILLER      221

16. America’s Salesman: The USA in Circarama

SARAH NILSEN      237

About the Contributors      255

Index      259