Fantasia (1940)

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10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great blending of music and art for a truly unique film

Could be tough for younger children, Meet the Soundtrack portion kind of dated

 
Movie Info

Movie Name: Fantasia

Studio: Walt Disney Productions

Genre(s): Family/Musical/Animated

Release Date(s): November 13, 1940

MPAA Rating: G

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Disney and Classical Music…a perfect match!

Music brought to life…interpretational art, Mickey Mouse as a magician’s apprentice, Greek mythology, and even the creation of Earth become the subjects of this amazing film simply about the joy of music.  With Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra at the helm, the music becomes cartoon.

With segments directed by Samuel Armstrong, James Algar, Bill Roberts, Paul Satterfield, Ben Sharpsteen, David D. Hand, Hamilton Luske, Jim Handley, Ford Beebe, T. Hee, Norm Ferguson, and Wilfred Jackson, Fantasia was Disney’s third major motion picture (following Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio) and made up of illustrations of eight classical pieces of music.  Originally, the movie was perceived to be a developing film.  The movie makers would add and subtract stories from the movie and re-release it ever few years with new material.  This never happened.  In 1999, Walt Disney’s idea was finally realized with the release of Fantasia 2000.

The music program includes:

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Music transformed into image!

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (Bach) is the first piece.  It is highly interpretational and one of the tougher segments.  It is a strange choice to start a movie aimed at children with something that is completely abstract.  That being said, the movie does a nice job transitioning between the orchestra and the animation

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An early frost

Nutcracker Suite (Tchaikovsky) shows the seasons and the fairies that bring about the change.  It also has memorable moments with a school of fish, dancing flowers, and mushrooms.

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Follow the bouncing broom!

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Dukas) is the most “Disney” of the segments and was originally going to be released on its own as a Silly Symphony.  It stars Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s apprentice that gets in over his head when he animates brooms to do his work.

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What kid doesn’t love dinosaurs?

The Rite of Spring (Stravinsky) shows Earth’s creation and the evolution and death of the dinosaurs.  There is a lot of great art in this segment, and kids will enjoy it once the dinosaurs show up (though the death is a little scary).

fantasia-soundtrack

How can you make an intermission more boring? Meet the Soundtrack!

Intermission/Meet the SoundtrackThe Meet the Soundtrack is probably the most dated part of the movie.  It shows how sound has a shape by showing how different sounds create different shapes.  It is so common to see the soundwaves today that it is kind of boring to hear it explained.

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Flight of Pegasus

The Pastoral Symphony (Beethoven) is a presentation of Greek mythology and was always a favorite of mine.  It has centaurs, satyrs, and flying horses enjoying a day and a festival with Bacchus.

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Oh yeah…Hippo action!

Dance of the Hours (Ponchielle) is a short fun segment with hippos, ostriches, elephants, and alligators showing the times of the day in a ballet.

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Scary as hell!

Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria is a great contrast between the horrors of the demons of Bald Mountain and the peaceful progression through the forest by monks to Ave Maria.

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The beauty of art, music, & animation meet!

The movie also had a bit of controversy when some of the images.  In the 1960s, parts of The Pastoral Symphony were edited because of content.  Racist portrayals of the centaurs which adopted early African-American art stereotypes were cut out of movie, and have never been restored.  (They can usually be found on YouTube for those curious).

Fantasia can be a difficult movie for some kids to sit through.  It is good to try however.  It is an amazing early example of how art and music can come together.  If some of the interpretational stuff is too dull for them, the dinosaurs of The Rite of Spring, the Greek Mythology of The Pastoral Symphony, or the creepy demons of Night on Bald Mountain might grab their attention.  Fantasia is an interesting movie and should be celebrated…plus, it could turn a child into the next great composer.

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Related Links:

Fantasia 2000 (1999)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by

Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn’t afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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