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  • Writer's pictureCollin Souter

Week # 9: "Victory Through Air Power"

(Originally published on 3/1/22)


Victory Through Air Power

Run time: 70 min

Release Date: July 17, 1943

Where/when I first saw it: First time watch

How I watched it today: DVD, Sunday evening.

I wouldn’t quite know where to begin in reviewing something like this, as it’s largely a piece of wartime propaganda, but it makes for an interesting footnote in Walt Disney’s history as an animator and war profiteer. Made as an argument for the US to invest heavily in air power for combat missions, “Victory Through Air Power” acts as a kind of historical lesson on the history of aviation as well as an animated power point of sorts that illustrate (literally and figuratively) why modern aviation and large-scale missiles and bombs are the key to winning a war. It’s not so much a movie, but a wartime, Disney-fied, military infomercial.

No characters here, just narration. The film occasionally cuts back to Major Alexander de Seversky (whose published theories at the time provide the basis for this film’s argument) talking directly to the viewer. The movie stops cold with every one of these detours (again, though, this is for propaganda and educational purposes only). The film’s most compelling aspect is the animation, which is not quite up to par with what the Disney artists had previously produced, obviously, but it does point to the power of the medium in creating visuals that live action footage at this time simply could not accomplish. By using animation to give a sense of the speed of the airplanes or the maps and graphics to illustrate what the enemy can and cannot do given the barriers, it makes sense that the Disney animators were instrumental in the war effort and making the case for air power. The variety of shots needed of planes flying had to be kind of boring and tedious for the animators, but they try their best to make every single one of them count. Some of them succeed quite well. The only sequence that doesn’t quite belong here is a metaphorical conflict between a pissed-off looking eagle (the US) fighting a gigantic octopus (Japan?).

There is certainly nothing else like “Victory Through Air Power” in the Disney catalog. It’s understandable why the studio doesn’t keep it in circulation. It’s not exactly something one would want to keep in a collection for the purposes of re-watching it. File it under “for completists only.” As such, the collection in which it’s included (which consists of dozens of other wartime cartoons) is fascinating and worth the hunt. Just don’t expect any big payoffs. This was a job to bring money in when the studio needed it to strive and survive.


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