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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Original Production Cel of Br'er Bear from "Song of the South," 1946


Original hand painted and hand inked production cel of Br'er Bear from "Song of the South," 1946; Set on a custom hand prepared background; Size - Br'er Bear: 6 1/2 x 5 1/2", Cel: 10 1/2 x 21 1/4", Image 9 1/4 x 21 1/2", Mat 15 1/4 x 27 1/2"; Double Matted.


"Song of the South" from 1946 is a live-action/animated musical film produced by Walt Disney and released by RKO Radio Pictures. It was based on the Uncle Remus stories collected by Joel Chandler Harris. Harris created the character of Uncle Remus in 1876 and began writing the Uncle Remus stories as a serial series to, in his words, "preserve in permanent shape those curious mementoes of a period that will no doubt be sadly misrepresented by historians of the future." President Teddy Roosevelt said of Harris, "Presidents may come and presidents may go, but Uncle Remus stays put. Georgia has done a great many things for the Union, but she has never done more than when she gave Mr. Joel Chandler Harris to American literature."

"Song of the South" was Disney's first feature film using live actors, who provided a framework for the animated segments throughout the film. The character of Uncle Remus, who was presumably a former slave, was played by James Baskett. The film includes several folk tales of the adventures of anthropomorphic Br'er Rabbit and his enemies, Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear. The film's song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" won the 1947 Academy Award for Best Song and is used often by both Disney and in popular culture. The film also inspired the Disney theme park water log attraction, "Splash Mountain."

Because of the film's depiction of black former slaves and of race relations in Reconstruction-Era Georgia; the film has been controversial since its original release. A number of critics, both at the time of its release and in later decades, have described the film as racist. Consequently, "Song of the South" has never been released in its entirety on home video in the United States.


Close up of the Br'er Bear cel.

Br'er Bear is slow-witted (compared to Br'er Fox and Br'er Rabbit) and prone to violence when provoked. He is gullible which leaves him open to being tricked repeatedly by Br'er Rabbit, even when he accompanies the more sly Br'er Fox. Br'er Bear is a tall grizzly bear, with brown fur, a cream muzzle, large black nose, wearing a blue unbuttoned dress shirt, and a red fedora.  He was animated by Marc Davis, Ollie Johnston, and Eric Larson and was voiced by Nicodemus (Nick) Stewart, who was an American television and film actor. Stewart was best known for his role as Lightnin' (Willie Jefferson) on the "Amos and Andy" television show.


Pan cel and pan background with the matting removed.

Br'er Bear may be one of the most cruel and heatless of all the Disney villains. And, in referring to Br'er Rabbit, his most memorable quote is "I'm just gonna knock his head clean off!" Br'er Bear cels and drawings are extremely rare, as is any original production artwork from "Song of the South." This is a wonderful pan cel with a large hand painted and hand inked production image of Br'er Bear measuring 6 1/2" x 5 1/2", with the pan cel measuring an incredible 10 1/2" x 21 1/4"! Br'er Bear is full figure with his eyes and mouth open and he is placed on a pan hand prepared background; and the entire work has been double matted.


Double matted original production cel of Br'er Bear.