Allegro Non Troppo (1977)

Article 2382 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-3-2007
Posting Date: 2-19-2008
Directed by Bruno Bozzetto
Featuring Marialuisa Giovannini, Nestor Garay, Maurizio Micheli

And now, presenting, a totally original idea – classical music pieces set to animation. And those guys from Hollywood are lying when they say some guy named Prisney already did this.

FANTASIA was supposed to be the first of a series of similar movies from Disney, but its commercial failure kept it from happening. A sequel only appeared six decades later, after the movie became a critical and cult favorite and achieved classic status. To fill in the gap, we have this tasty little treat, a parody/tribute to the Disney film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It opens with a presenter trying to convince us that this is a totally original idea, only to be interrupted by an angry call from Hollywood when he uses the word “fantasia”. The orchestra consists of little old ladies, the conductor is a cigar-smoking bully, and the animator was convinced into cooperating by being chained to a wall in his cell. We then see six renditions of classical pieces interspersed with live action sequences, the best of which includes a Laurel-and-Hardy inspired tit for tat sequence between the conductor and the animator. Despite the overt comic tone of the movie, not all the animated sequences are comic – “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” is a melancholy tale of an aging satyr, “Bolero” is an ambitious segment which shows the evolution of life on a distant planet that grows from what was left over in an abandoned pop battle, and “Valse Triste” is a wonderful piece about a cat in an abandoned and decrepit building dreaming of the people who used to inhabit it. The other three pieces are more comic – “Slavian Dance” is about a man seeking revenge on his neighbors because they imitate his every act, “The Firebird” shows the travails of a bee trying to sit down to a meal but having to contend with amorous picnickers, and “Concert in C-Major” shows what happens when the serpent from the garden of Eden decides to eat the apple himself. I’m assuming that if the serpent hadn’t scared off the old ladies, we would have gotten a seventh piece, but fortunately, an animated hunchback is on hand to pick out a finale for us. The movie is consistently amusing, and only runs about seventy five minutes in the US version (the original ran ten minutes longer). Recommended.



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