Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Video: Disney's American Legends

I was looking for information on Johnny "Appleseed" Chapman (mentioned in a book I've been reading to my son) and stumbled upon these videos from a Disney collection of short films called American Legends. A nice collection about American legends that will probably be completely forgotten fifty years from now.

Johhny Appleseed parts 1 and 2

Paul Bunyan parts 1 & 2

John Henry parts 1 and 2

has something very interesting to say about the John Henry film:
In 2000, Walt Disney Feature Animation completed a short subject film based on John Henry, produced at the satellite studio in Orlando, Florida, directed by Mark Henn, written by Shirley Pierce and produced by Steven Keller. Keller, Henn and Pierce worked collaboratively with the Grammy Award winning group "The Sounds of Blackness" to create all new songs for the film. The film also featured the voice talent of actress Alfre Woodard. "John Henry" created a strong positive response around the animation community, won several film festivals both domestically and abroad, and was one of seven finalists for the 2001 academy awards in its category.

However, Disney was uneasy about releasing a short about a black folk hero created by an almost completely white production team, and aside from film festivals, industry screenings and limited theater screenings required for academy award consideration, a slightly cut down version of John Henry was released only as part of a video compilation entitled Disney American Legends in 2001. This became the nation's top-selling children's video for several weeks upon its release. Disney Educational Productions has also made the film available as a stand-alone product for video use in schools. The film is often shown on The Disney Channel, particularly during Black History Month.

The Brave Engineer