Not for children
Based on the book by Major Alexander de Seversky published in 1941,
this film is basically Disney's vehicle for pressing De Seversky's
military plan upon Roosevelt, Churchill and the people of America and
Britain. De Seversky argued that we should use bombers to attack Axis
factories, farms, lines of transportation and resources. Basically, he
argued that America and England should begin killing civilians by the
tens of millions. And it's a Disney film.
After a brief homage to General Billy Mitchell, the first major
animated sequence of the film you've probably seen: "History of
Aviation." It starts with the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, and
documents the beginning of flight. It then moves on to the formation of
the American Air Corps in 1908, early achievements in flight. It shows
how aircraft were used in World War I, with the first surveillance
planes, the first fighters and the first bombers.
The film moves on to give a history of World War II up to that point,
but there are several factual errors, including a sequence where the
German Army uses air cover and tanks to break the Maginot Line. In
reality, Germany simply invaded France through Belgium. It shows that
the invasion of Crete was a great victory for Germany, while it was
actually a disaster that nearly failed.
The film then goes on to describe America's role in the war, describing
America as the "Arsenal of Democracy." It argues that since American
supply lines are thousands and thousands of miles long and
German/Japanese supply lines are very short, Japan and Germany have a
decided advantage over us. The solution? Stop attacking Hitler's tanks
and soldiers, and begin attacking the factories, farms, workers and
farmers which build those tanks and feed those soldiers.
The film has a decidedly unsettling tone about it. It begins as a
typical Walt Disney cartoon documentary, light-hearted and funny, but
it ends describing some of the most disturbing tactics of modern
combat, such as blowing up dams to flood the enemy, and employing bombs
that will cause earthquakes, perhaps a metaphor for nuclear weapons.
It's definitely not for children.
The version found on The Disney Treasures set "On the Front Lines" is
only 65 minutes long, and doesn't have the scene that argues that
America is the greatest nation for aviators by insulting every nation
in Europe, including our allies, France and Britain..
Wow -- \"Victory Through Air Power\" on DVD!
When I was about 13 years old around 1978, our school teacher had our
watch a 16mm print of the first part of Disney\'s "Victory Through Air
Power", which is all in animation and is about the history of aviation. I
loved it. In the decades since, I\'d always clearly remembered the comical
shot of an early WWI fighter plane pilot using a machine gun before the
technology to synchronize machine guns with propellers had been
When I became interested in Disney animation several years ago, I hoped to
find a copy of that one. But I learned that it had never been released on
any videotape or videodisc format, and that my only glimmer of hope of
seeing it again was to buy a 16mm film projector and find an old 16mm
and probably pay a lot for it. More than any other, this title had me
seriously thinking about doing that.
It\'s been some time since I\'ve kept up with new DVD releases. I was
at Costco today and stumbled across some of Disney\'s "Treasures Limited
Edition" tins. I already had some of those, but I noticed that these were
titles I hadn\'t seen before. I tossed the Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck
titles into my cart, passed on one that was about Tomorrow Land, and dug
through to make sure I hadn\'t missed any. I could hardly believe my eyes
when I picked up one that said "On the Front Lines" and "The War Years".
first thought was to wonder if it included that aviation history I had
in 1978. I turned it over and yes, it said it included not only the
history part I had seen then, but the entire film!
Somewhat in a daze, I went straight to the checkout line, then straight
home, then straight to the DVD player. Even my wife watched it with me, I
guess because she could see how excited I was about it.
I loved it in 1978 on 16mm, and I loved it again in 2004 on DVD. It\'s at
once an interesting history, attractive animation, and fun entertainment.
was also interested to see the realism in animation of planes I had
about over the years.
The live action part was also very interesting and well worth watching, if
little on the tedious side at times, especially for my wife. It\'s
very interesting to consider how this movie may have changed the course of
the war, or more precisely, this movie may have brought enough attention
the book that inspired it, and to that book\'s brilliant and prophetic
author, to have changed the course of the war.
It was so interesting, I plan to watch it again soon -- though my wife
I\'m struggling to articulate how it feels to suddenly stumble across this
title on a very well-made DVD, after not seeing it at all for 26 years and
having more or less given up any serious hope of ever seeing it again.
still almost a little hard to believe.
When I looked up this DVD title on the web, I was a little startled to
that I had bought it on the very day it was released! (May 18th,
It looks like Disney has let the earlier "Treasures Limited Edition" tins
out of print, and undoubtedly they will do the same with "On the Front
Lines". If you have any interest at all in aviation history, and/or in
and/or in rare Disney animation gems, then "On the Front Lines" is a
must-have, just for Victory Through Air Power. (I haven\'t even watched
of the shorts on the DVD yet.)