Der Fuehrer’s Face

Der Fuehrer’s Face (originally titled Donald Duck in Nutzi Land) is a 1943 American animated anti-Nazi propaganda short film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released in 1943 by RKO Radio Pictures. The cartoon, which features Donald Duck in a nightmare setting working at a factory in Nazi Germany, was made in an effort to sell war bonds and is an example of American propaganda during World War II. The film was directed by Jack Kinney and written by Joe Grant and Dick Huemer from the original music by Oliver Wallace. The film is well known for Wallace’s original song “Der Fuehrer’s Face”, which was actually released earlier by Spike Jones.

Der Fuehrer’s Face won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 15th Academy Awards. It was the only Donald Duck film to receive the honor, although eight other films were also nominated. In 1994, it was voted Number 22 of “the 50 Greatest Cartoons” of all time by members of the animation field. However, because of the propagandistic nature of the short, and the depiction of Donald Duck as a Nazi (albeit a deeply reluctant one), Disney kept the film out of general circulation after its original release. Its first home video release came in 2004 with the release of the third wave of the Walt Disney Treasures DVD sets.

Plot

Because of wartime rationing, Donald’s breakfast consists of bread that is so stale and hard it resembles wood (and must be sliced using a saw), coffee brewed from a single hoarded coffee bean, and an aromatic spray that smells (and, apparently, also tastes) like bacon and eggs. The band shoves a copy of Mein Kampf  in front of him for a moment of reading, then marches into his house and escorts him to a factory with Donald now carrying the bass drum and Göring kicking him.A German oom-pah band—composed of Axis leaders Joseph Goebbels on trombone, Heinrich Himmler on snare drum, Hideki Tōjō on sousaphone,Hermann Göring on piccolo and Benito Mussolini on bass drum—marches noisily at four o’clock in the morning through a small town where everything is shaped like swastika, singing the virtues of the Nazi doctrine. Passing by Donald Duck’s house (the features of which depict Adolf Hitler), they poke him out of bed with a bayonet to get ready for work. Here Donald then faces and “Heils” the portraits of the Führer (Adolf Hitler), the Emperor (Hirohito), and Il Duce (Mussolini), respectively, then goes to fix himself breakfast. 

Donald salutes the Führer

Upon arriving at the factory (at bayonet-point), Donald starts his 48-hour daily shift screwing caps onto artillery shells in an assembly line. Mixed in with the shells are portraits of the Führer, so he must perform the Hitler salute every time a portrait appears, all the while screwing the caps onto shells, much to Donald’s disgust. Each new batch of shells is of a different size, ranging from minute shells to massive shells, as large as Donald if not larger. The pace of the assembly line intensifies (as in the Charlie Chaplin comedy Modern Times), and Donald finds it increasingly hard to complete all the tasks. At the same time, he is bombarded with propaganda messages about the superiority of the Aryan race and the glory of working for the Führer.

After a “paid vacation” that consists of making swastika shapes with his body for a few seconds in front of a painted backdrop of the Alps as exercise, Donald is ordered to work overtime. He has a nervous breakdown with hallucinations of artillery shells everywhere, some of which are snakes and birds, some sing and are the same shape of the marching band from the start, music and all (some of the animation from this sequence is recycled from the “Pink Elephants on Parade” sequence from Dumbo).

When the hallucinations clear, he finds himself in his bed, and realizes that the whole experience was a nightmare, but he sees the shadow of a figure holding its right hand up in the form of a Nazi salute. He begins to do so himself until he realizes that it is the shadow of a miniature Statue of Liberty, holding her torch high in her right hand. Remembering he is in theUnited States, he embraces the statue, grateful of his United States citizenship.

The short ends with a caricature of Hitler’s angry face, and a tomato is thrown at Hitler’s face and forms the words The End.  /Gjithqka Nga Pak –  for more see the advertisment.

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