For the first time, I have to write a post about a Disney movie I didn’t watch.
Yes, in my quest to watch every Disney full-length animated film, I have been unable to watch Make Mine Music. It’s not for lack of trying, though.
This collection, a 1946 release of ten animated shorts set to music (in the style of Fantastia), has suffered from numerous edits over the years, due to content that has been deemed objectionable by Disney. The only edition available that I can find has numerous negative reviews due to these massive edits, including the removal of the entire first segment deemed too violent for children, titled “The Martins and The Coys”.
I searched in vain for a way of viewing this film in its original format, even going so far as to search YouTube for the segments individually (the only version of “The Martins and The Coys” available is dubbed in Italian). Unfortunately, there are simply no other means of watching this film as it was originally released, a fact I find rather disheartening.
This is not the first time I’ve addressed Disney’s desire to edit its own films. A similar situation was faced with Fantasia, in which a racist depiction of a character was removed. Certainly, I can understand Disney’s desire to edit their films to make them more appropriate for a modern audience. Just because they’re the original versions doesn’t make these depictions acceptable viewing material for kids (or for anyone, for that matter). However, from an historical standpoint, erasing their existence entirely is wrong. Sure, Disney wants to distance itself from any of its film segments which might support prejudices of a past time, but by removing any and all trace of these events, Disney is obscuring the truth. Yes, Make Mine Music had gun-slinging cowboys in its original edit. Subsequent versions had this segment removed after it was decided that it promoted gun violence. That doesn’t change the fact that at one point in time, Disney thought it perfectly acceptable to include this story in one of their movies. Should guns be thrown about haphazardly in a kids movie? No. But neither should they be completely erased from history because Disney is worried about a sullied reputation.
To support their kid-friendly initiative without jeopardizing their own history, the Disney company should have released their edited version of the film, but either released a separate unabridged edition, or included options on the DVD to view the film in its original format as well. The fact that this has not been done yet is upsetting, seeming as though Disney is choosing to rewrite its own history and edit out anything it deems objectionable.
I respect the truth, and I respect a company that can admit its own failings. These segments, although perhaps less than ideal, are a part of Disney’s past, and therefore an important part of their story. No company can last for generations without a misstep or two, but Disney’s insistence on erasing their errors creates an incomplete and false history, both of the company and world views of the time. I would much rather have a complete view of Disney’s past, flaws and all, than an edited version meant to make them look infallible.
As it stands, its sad that I’m unable to watch this film in its original format, and I refuse to watch such a heavily edited version. Hopefully one day Disney will realize the importance of keeping their history intact and will re-release these films without these extensive edits. Until then, I’m forced to skip over this production, unable to experience Disney’s 8th animated feature film due to the company’s own insistence on preserving their pristine image.