the atom, a friend?

27 05 2009

with all the news about the threat of nuclear bombs, especially the news about north-korea, as well as news about some more wanna-be nuclear powers in other parts of the world, I am not sure if I should stay with the original title of disney’s film OUR FRIEND THE ATOM. it was released jan. 1957, produced in cooperation with the U.S. navy and General Dynamics ( builders of the nuclear submarine USS nautilus ). the narrator of the mixed live action/animation/documentary show, first on the air in disney’s DISNEYLAND tv-show, was german professor HEINZ HABER, a pretty popular science presenter in germany. the show uses clips from disney’s 20.000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, the famous fisherman and the genie in the bottle fable and some very well done historic development pieces to come up with the conclusion ‘here lies our chance to make the atomic genie our friend’. I always liked the 60 min long show, directed by HAM LUSKE, the character design is very unique, as well as the very stylized backgrounds. following are some screen captures, judge yourself

1our friend the atom vid

© disney enterprises, inc




8 responses

27 05 2009

I love this film, but it’s also a good reminder of how Disney was interested in teaching us something, instead of just playing down to us. Those were the days…

27 05 2009
Ignacio Carlos Ochoa

I didn’t know that the Aladin’s genius had worked for Disney before the musical of the 90’s.
The two backgrounds below Disney picture looks so great, those remember me the Fleisher’s Superman .

from hans –
you are right, I never noticed that – there are certain similarities between the two genies!

28 05 2009

Lovely site!! There is so much information and art to absorb. By the way, I loved your book Dream Worlds it was a constant companion of mine during film school, so thank you 🙂

28 05 2009
Oswald Iten

I clearly remember the day our chemistry teacher showed us this show on a disintegrating U-matic video cassette with Walt dubbed into German – very strange. Nevertheless, it made a strong and lasting impression on me, even if its implications somehow made me uncomfortable.
Actually it was around the time Disney’s Aladdin came out, so the genie resemblance stood out too obviously.

But when our teacher asked who this guy was (meaning Walt), I was shocked that I was the only one recognizing him. Up until then I thought everybody would recognize Walt Disney. But obviously times had already changed, even back in 1992.

from hans –
your teacher must have been an animation fan. I can’t imagine another reason to show this film at school in 1992. there are scientifically more updated films on the market.

28 05 2009
Ignacio Carlos Ochoa

I believed that the genius designed by Eric Goldberg was unique, but we cannot deny the great influence of this character. Both have a lot of similarities !!!
You know who are the character designer from this short?


I don’t know. I could imagine that TOM OREB was involved, he was one of the best designers in the studio, worked on the SLEEPING BEAUTY characters, especially beauty. and probably WARD KIMBALL.
you should read CARTOON MODERN by AMID AMIDI. it is the best book about the styling of backgrounds and characters in fifties animation.

29 05 2009
David Cousens

It’s not just the genie that’s familiar, the guy with the white moustache that’s trying to open the lamp looks like he was the inspiration for the narrator/salesman (also voiced by Robin Williams) that appears at (and sings) the intro.

29 05 2009
Ignacio Carlos Ochoa

Thanks Hans. On IMDB site appear the names of the animators, backgrouds artist, layout artist, and animation art stylists (Claude Coast and John Hench), but not the character designer’s names.
I will try to have the Amid’s book. This is not easy from here, Argentina.
Thanks again.

2 06 2009
Floyd Norman

Seeing these images bring back wonderful memories. I worked for the talented Disney animator, Cliff Nordberg while on this picture. Seeing Cliff’s drawings, it almost feels like yesterday.

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