|Classic Caballeros Collection|
Written by Jason Flick
May, 11 2008
If you were asked to name the first things you remember about the years 1942 and 1944, what would you say? For those of you that were growing up back then you would probably say WWII, a sad and tragic event that has scarred our world’s history.
However there were two things that came out during those years that were a welcome change from the bleak rhythms of war. During those years, Walt Disney and a crew of musicians, artists, writers and animators left the USA to visit the exciting locals of Latin America. When they returned after collecting a lot of souvenirs and a ton of research from all over Latin America, they released two films depicting their journeys. The first was called “Saludos Amigos” releasing in 1942 and the second was called “The Three Caballeros”, the sequel to Saludos, in 1944. It is now 66 years later and Disney has brought back these classics back in the Classic Caballeros Collection.
Saludos Amigos, the first film in this two film bundle, was meant to be a good will message to Central and South America to build US relations during the war. This fact however is lost in Disney history and what remains is a fun and informative animated feature for all ages. This film is made up of 4 animated segments that were intertwined with the original 16mm video footage of Walt’s trip. Donald Duck is featured in two of the segments, Goofy in one and a little plane named Pedro in the other.
The first segment is called “Lake Titicaca” featuring Donald Duck, an American tourist, visiting Lake Titicaca (man what a mouthful) to meet the local Incas descendants and one very unforgiving llama. Donald gets a small taste of their way of life while the viewer learns all about their culture and gets a few good laughs.
Pedro, the little plane, and title character in the second segment shows the grueling task of the mail planes as they make their trips over the Andes between Chile and Argentina. The idea for this segment was born on the plan ride over the mountain and largely resembles the Little Engine that could in its approach.
The third segment features the clumsy but loveable, Goofy as he portrays a North American cowboy that is suddenly hoisted out of Texas to learn the about the way of the Gaucho. The Gaucho is the Latin version of our own cowboys. The viewers will learn about the clothing, jobs and daily lives of these hard workers. That and seeing what kind of predicament that good ‘ole goofy can get into.
The last and final segment before Disney and company head back to the States features Donald Duck and the first appearance of Joe Carioca. This segment is titled “Aquarela Do Brasil” and is a beautiful water color representation of Brazil. This is also where Joe Carioca teaches Donald how to do the Samba, a popular traditional dance in Latin America.
Those four segments made up the informative and rather amusing film Saludos Amigos. The part I like the most about this film is the historical aspect to it and the beautifully musical sequence that takes place in Aquarela do Brasil. It to me was the most artistic part of the film.
While Saludos Amigos was certainly funny, the second film in this set “The Three Caballeros” is by far my favorite. While Saludos was mainly informative, Caballeros was just plain fun and a pleasure to watch. Caballeros unlike its predecessor featured 7 main segments. These are all unveiled as presents to Donald Duck. As he opens them one by one he is soon joined again by Joe Carioca and the Mexican rooster Panchito.
In the segment, ”The Cold-Blooded Penguin” a penguin named Pablo, seeks warmer climates as he unlike all the other penguins is tired of freezing to death. So instead of remaining in the Antarctica like a normal penguin he set out to find a little island in Latin America.
The next segment is one of my favorites in this film. It is called The Flying Gauchito. This story involves a little boy from Argentina that is in the middle of hunting condor when he happens upon a flying donkey, which he names Burrito. The little boy gets the idea that he can make a lot of money if he and Burrito enter into a horse race. They end up winning the race but Burrito’s secret is suddenly revealed and the two fly off in to the sky.
Bahia, the third segment, involves a pop-up book trip through Salvador, the capital of the Brazilian state of Bahia, as Donald Duck and José Carioca meet up with some of the locals who dance an interesting samba and Donald starts going gaga for one of the females in the group.
The segment “Las Posadas” is the story of a group of Mexican children who celebrated Christmas by re-enacting the journey of Mary and Joseph searching for room at the inn. "Posada" means "inn", and they are told "no posada" at each house until they come to one where they are offered shelter in a stable. This leads to festivities including the breaking of the piñata, which in turn leads to Donald Duck trying to break the piñata as well.
The Three Caballeros soon find their way into Mexico and end up visiting Patzcuaro, Veracruz and Acapulco. Panchito end up giving Donald and Joe a magical serape ride through these three locals. Along the way several dances and songs are learned here and Donald is riot most of the time. The real fun begins when the boys visits Acapulco Beach. Donald takes on look at a beach that appears to be in habited entirely of women and goes crazy for them. This is actually my favorite part of this second film.
In “You Belong To My Heart” Donald is captivated by a sing lady that appears as the film transitions to a night time setting. This sequence as well as the next is very much a trip to loony land as Donald falls in love with the singing lady. This segment was very well done artistically with both animated characters and live action people.
The final sequence is basically a continuation of the Heart segments. Here Donald is pretty much delirious with love’s kiss and is quite possibly the funniest part of the entire DVD collection. The mix of live actors and animation blend seamlessly into a rather cool looking performance.
Also included on the disc is an excerpt from a CBC interview with Walt on why he went down to Latin America to make a feature film. The reason being the one that I mentioned a couple times in this review, but interesting none the less.
Like many early Disney productions, the people at Disney threw in two 8 minute cartoon shorts for good measure. The cartoons “ Don Donald and “Contrary Condor” both make an appearance on this disc. Both cartoons are a perfect addition to the experience that the viewers see as the subject matter is centered on the same area as the films. The Classic Caballeros Collection retails for around $16 dollars at most retailers.