Walt and El Grupo is the new feature length documentary about the two month tour of South America that Walt and his staff (which included Lee and Mary Blair, Frank Thomas and Norm Ferguson) took – by arrangement of the U.S. Government – in 1941. I had a chance to see it last week – and I enjoyed it very much.
Using previously unseen 16mm color home movies, rare newsreel footage and photographs, as well as interviews with relatives, historians (John Canemaker, J.B. Kaufman) and witnesses (several people who interacted with Walt and the group during the trip were located and interviewed!) the filmmakers (Franks son, Theodore with Kuniko Okubo) retrace the entire tour and take us along for the ride.
If you are a fan of the history of Walt Disney, the Disney studio in general, the Latin America themed shorts (and features) – or, if like me, you just like watching candid footage of Walt – you will love this film. In fact, if you fall into those categories, it’s a must-see. This is a whole chapter in the life of Disney we hadn’t seen before, told in depth, bringing us much closer the man behind the mouse.