Perri was the first "True-Life Fantasy" in Walt Disney's immensely popular documentary series - True-Life Adventures. This series, begun in 1949 with the Oscar-winning short Seal Island, brought the vast outdoors into the theatre in brilliant Technicolor, introducing youngsters, and adults alike, to the secret life of animals and the wonders of nature.
Initially, critics had mixed reviews about the documentaries, but as the series progressed they couldn't deny their appeal. Since these shorts were technically classified as documentaries, Disney's staff had to restrain from cuing the creatures to act in a particular way. No trained pets were allowed in the documentary territory. Tacking the "fantasy" title onto the True-Life Adventure series gave the staff free rein to let the footage of the animals revolve around a story. They could create characters, set-up scenes, and even allow trained animals to perform these parts ( provided they belonged to a union, of course ).
This particular film focuses on the trials and tribulations of a young female squirrel - "Perri" - in the woods of Colorado, from her birth to the day she fell in love and prepared herself to be a creator in the endless stream of life - which just so happens to be the underlying theme of the film.
Nine cameramen spent nearly two years capturing the footage of squirrels, hawks, owls, bobcats, beavers, and martens throughout four seasons to bring Perri into the theatres. Paul J. Smith penned a marvelous orchestral score setting sunrises, moonlit nights, and the changing seasons to music. This is highlighted by three choral songs written by the talented George Bruns.
For anyone who has not yet seen a True-Life Adventure film, they are truly dazzling, combining gorgeous filming with lush musical backgrounds. Perri is no exception, and one particular scene of beauty to keep your eyes out for is the midnight winter fantasy of the young squirrel.
To read more about Disney' True-Life Adventures and James Algar, the man responsible for these great films, read our post : James Algar - Imagineer and Director.