Jun 28, 2007

Pop Quiz on a subject of some obscurity: Mickey Mouse--in Vietnam?

UPDATE 7/2: Didier Ghez, on his Disney History blog has come through yet again with actual images from this rare short, scanned from the book "Bon Anniversaire, Mickey!" by Thierry Steff. Many thanks , Didier.
By the way, if you haven't lately--please do pay a visit to ogle the rarities and terrific links always available on Didier's blog. Its an essential resource.

My friend Ennio here at work is looking for some inforrmation on this short film--one I'd never heard of and had no idea existed-"Mickey Mouse In Vietnam".
Below is pretty much all I was able to find, from Wikipedia:

"Mickey Mouse in Vietnam" is a 16mm underground short movie. The director was Lee Savage. It features the Disney character Mickey Mouse being shipped to Vietnam during the war. Moments after arriving, he is shot dead. It was produced independently in 1968 or 1970.

Sounds a little like "Bambi meets Godzilla" in terms of pacing. The name Lee Savage is barely familiar to me. I have several books about independent animation that date from the late 1960s-early 70s so perhaps I've read about him there.
But this short: has anyone ever seen it? Was it inked and painted, or done in any style attempting to be true to a classic Disney look? Is it available to see, either commercially or elsewhere?

Today it's more the norm to look at this kind of shock value approach and see it as obvious and heavy handed--and maybe it was, even then. But Mickey Mouse and friends were still sacred icons that represented a kind of wholesome, intact, optimistic America that was taking an awful beating in those years, so he of all characters must have seemed the ultimate target for political/sociological statements of one kind or another. I think much of that stuff was wildly overdone, but it was new once. At any rate I've no idea how well done--or not--this film was. I'd be very curious to see for myself--and Ennio wants to track it down for a friend who's writing about wartime cartoons.
Can anybody offer some input? All much appreciated!


notarysojack said...

You can get it here for a mere $75, part of a DVD titled "For Life, Against the War."

more info:

Jenny Lerew said...

Thanks, Larry!

notarysojack said...

One of the write-ups says it's in pencil and lasts something like a minute. It was done as part of the "Week of the Angry Arts" in 1967. (thank you, Google).

Didier Ghez said...


I will try and scan a few screenshots of this for you (those shots appeared in a French book a few years ago).

J. J. Hunsecker said...

I too have heard about this cartoon but never seen it. I would be interested to have watched it, but unfortunately the surprise ending has been ruined since the notoriety of the film surpasses it's availability on video.

I just wanted to comment on "shock value" for a moment. Those words have a perjoritve taint to them, which I don't think is fair. There is nothing wrong with shocking an audience out of their complacency and expectations. It is just another tool of the filmmaker. Is it so bad if a filmmaker is angry over some injustice and wants to figuratively throw cold water in the audiences face to wake them to this realisation?

I can understand why you would see a similarity between Bambi Meets Godzilla and this cartoon, but I think there is a big difference between the two. In the former, the cartoon is simply a silly punchline -- there is nothing more to it than that. In the latter, there is a political comment being made, mostly against the pro-war propaganda that characters like Micky Mouse espoused during WWII. I think that sort of commentary elevates it beyond its one note joke. (Of course, I haven't seen the cartoon, and for all its good intentions it could still be a poor piece of art.)

Didier Ghez said...


I have just posted scans of the while short on the Disney History Blog.

Jenny Lerew said...

Thanks, Didier! You've anwered a lot of questions with your scans. We owe you one yet again!