Reason and Emotion
Studio: Disney Release Date : August 27, 1943
Cumulative rating: No Ratings Posted


A subtle propaganda film features the two halves of a man's (and woman's) mind; the rational half and the emotional half, as they each try to gain control over a person's actions.


Note: "Unverified" credits may not be correct and should be taken with a grain of salt.


Bill Roberts (unverified)


Ward Kimball (unverified)
Oliver M. "Ollie" Johnston, Jr. (unverified)
Milt Kahl


Frank Lee Graham (unverified)
James "Jimmy" MacDonald (unverified)


Nominated for the Academy Award (Oscar): Best Short Subject


RKO Radio Pictures

Included in:

Man is His Own Worst Enemy

Cut Scenes

  • References to World War 2 have been cut out, including a scene with "Reason" and "Emotion" in a Nazi concentration camp.

Inside Jokes

  • The caveman type "Emotion" character was drawn as a caricature of animator Ward Kimball.


United States

Disney Treasures : On the Front Lines

Technical Specifications

Running Time: 7:55
MPAA No.: 9321
Animation Type: Standard (Hand-drawn-Cel) Animation
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1
Color Type: Technicolor
Sound Type: Mono: RCA Sound Recording
Print Type: 35mm
Negative Type: 35mm
Cinematographic Format: Spherical
Original Language: English

Reviews and Comments

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From Jerry Edwards :

This World War II propaganda short under the disguise of entertainment studies the conflict in the mind between Reason, shown to be sensible, and Emotion - shown to be primitive and out of control. The short makes the point that reason must be used to keep emotions under control. In addition to everyday decisions, such as staying on a diet - how to deal with the rumors of the war are included, such as "we've been invaded," "all our food is being sent to Europe and we'll starve," and "we won't survive if we can't get to work without tires and gasoline."

An excellent caricature of Hitler is shown, using fear, sympathy, pride, and hate to turn the Emotion of the Germans against their Reason. A very effective scene shows Emotion enslaving Reason in a concentration camp.

The ending shows Reason and Emotion working together as co-pilots flying a war plane to defeat the enemy.

The uncensored version has probably not been seen by most people. A censored version with all war related items deleted, narrated by Ludwig Von Drake, was part of the Disney TV show "Man Is His Own Worst Enemy" (10/21/62), later released on video as "Ducking Disaster With Donald Duck."

This short is effective as propaganda of that time, but contains little entertainment value, even when redone with Ludwig Von Drake.

From Ryan :

This is one of my favorite Disney cartoons of all time. I remember seeing the censored version on a "Walt Disney Presents" episode back in the late 80's/early 90's. Since I was a little kid back then, I didn't understand the humor in it. When I saw this short recently, I loved it. One part I like is where Reason (portrayed as an egghead) is "driving" the human mind of the male with Emotion (portrayed as a caveman)in the passenger seat. Emotion sees a woman and urges the man to go up to her and put the moves on her, but Reason urges him to "maintain proper respect for womanhood." Unfortunately, for the man, Emotion overpowers Reason. The result of this act is a slap in the face for the man. Meanwhile, in the woman's mind, there are female versions of Reason (portrayed as a female egghead) and Emotion (portrayed as a whiney teenager). Emotion urges the woman to go to the local restaurant and eat a bunch of high-calorie foods like ice cream and french fries. Reason, however, who reminds the woman that she is on a diet, suggests something light like tea and toast. Like the man, Emotion overpowers Reason in the woman. The result of this is a rather large figure.

From Jennifer Wilson :

I loved this short when I was a kid. Please put in on video or a special DVD. I would buy it in an instant. The emotion characters crack me up!

From Baruch Weiss :

This cartoon was pretty good. I have seen it countless times on the video Ducking Disaster not realizing that all World War 2 situations have been cut out of the cartoon. My favorite part was when the girl kept arguing about what to eat and trouble ensues.

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project :

Of all the wartime shorts that we have looked at so far, Reason and Emotion is the one that is the best, because if you really look at it, it has everything that a short like this should have. There is great comedy, fantastic animation and layers of meaning that has all sorts of meaning, even today.

It’s a simple idea, as the best shorts are. The animators take us inside the head of the average American, demonstrating the balance between the hot-headed emotion and the calm and measured reason. It begins with showing emotion in charge as the person is a baby, but as the baby allows emotion to carry it down a flight of stairs and get hurt, reason shows up.

Then, things track through the first half of the short with great comedic effect, as we see an average American man and woman and how reason or emotion drive them. The man is driven by emotion to hit on the woman, and the woman is driven by emotion to eat some fattening foods.

The thing that struck me about this is that popular culture depictions of men and women and what is driving them has not changed all that much in the intervening 60 years. Think of your favorite sitcoms, and are the men still easily distracted by women? Yes, they are. Are the women worried about what they eat, and always indulging in ice cream after breakups? Sure are, aren’t they? Things have not changed too much.

It’s a clever twist, then, to take that cultural stereotype and the light humor of what reason and emotion are doing to that point in the short and then apply it to Nazi Germany. Leaving the mind of the average American, and heading into the mind of a German, the animators try to show how things are different when emotion leads the way.

Adolf Hitler is shown manipulating emotions, playing on fear, sympathy, pride and hatred in order to drive the response he wants. Emotion completely overwhelms reason in the German mind, and propels the German to devotion to Hitler’s cause. Again, the parallels with current times are frightening. Think of how politicians of all stripes will use fear or sympathy to influence your vote.

Reason and Emotion is an amazing piece of work to me, because if you replaced Hitler with a different politician or updated the clothing, it would still hold up. It’s remarkable in one sense that things have not changed, and even more that America continues this struggle between reason and emotion. It’s a fantastic piece of work that deserves to be studied.