Fantasia (1940)

FANTASIA (1940)
Article #714 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-27-2003
Posting Date: 7-27-2003
Featuring Leopold Stokowski, Deems Taylor

Several pieces of classical music are presented with accompanying animation.

At least one of my reference books points out that most animated movies would fall under the category of fantastic cinema, what with their obsession with talking animals and the like, but I have covered precious little animation so far, because the books I’ve been using so far for this project omit them on principle. This is one of the exceptions, which may seem odd for what is essentially a series of mood pieces. Nonetheless, it definitely qualifies; fantasy fans can enjoy “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (with Mickey Mouse trying to keep an animated broom under control) and Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. The latter features an endless parade of satyrs, centaurs, unicorns and flying horses, all done in Disney’s cutest style, and would win my vote for what is far and away the dullest segment of the movie. Science fiction fans can enjoy the “Rite of Spring” segment, which covers the creation of the world and features extensive dinosaur animation (and not a single dinosaur has a squeaky “land-before-time” kiddie voice, thank goodness), while horror fans can enjoy the demonic and very un-Disneyesque “Night on Bald Mountain” segment; rumors abound that the demon here was drawn around footage of Bela Lugosi. Horror fans will definitely recognize the melody of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, even if it’s played by a full orchestra and not John Carradine at an organ. Nonetheless, my favorite segment is “Dance of the Hours”, a ballet populated by the most singularly ungraceful array of creatures to ever dance their way to your funny bone. Disney had hoped to regularly rerelease the movie with new segments on a regular basis, but that plan was axed when the movie proved to be a monumental flop on its initial release. Time has been more than kind to it.

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