Disney animators set pictures to Western classical music as Leopold Stokowski conducts the Philadelphia Orchestra. "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" features Mickey Mouse as an aspiring magician who oversteps his limits. "The Rite of Spring" tells the story of evolution, from single-celled animals to the death of the dinosaurs. "Dance of the Hours" is a comic ballet performed by ostriches, hippos, elephants, and alligators. "Night on Bald Mountain" and "Ave Maria" set the forces of darkness and light against each other as a devilish revel is interrupted by the coming of a new day. Written by
David Thiel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
While the Centaurs as depicted in the "Pastoral Symphony" segment are treated as creatures of myth, there are various theories that they were based on memories of historical people of events. The most common theory holds that the idea of centaurs came from the first reaction of a non-riding culture to nomads who were mounted on horses. The theory suggests that such riders would appear as half-man, half-animal. Similarly, the Aztecs are thought to have mistaken conquistadors riding on horses for centaur-like creatures. Robert Graves (1895-1985), in his influential interpretations of ancient myths, suggested that the various hybrid creatures of Greco-Roman legends were based on memories of tribesmen with animal totems. In his theory, the Centaurs were a tribe with the horse as its totem. He wrote extensively on their supposed cultural practices. Historical novelist Mary Renault (1905-83), who also reinterpreted Classical legends, theorized they were a reclusive, primitive tribe. See more »
In the full-length introduction to the "Nutcracker Suite", heard only in the roadshow version of "Fantasia", Deems Taylor states that this music is from a longer ballet called "The Nutcracker", which "nobody performs it anymore". The full-length "Nutcracker" had not been performed in the U.S. yet in 1940, but in both Russia and England it had been staged in 1934, and had already been staged in Russia twice before that, in 1892 and 1919. However, although the "Nutcracker Suite" was immensely popular even in 1940, the full-length ballet was still a long way off from becoming the annual phenomenon it now is in the United States. See more »
How do you do? Uh, my name is Deems Taylor, and it's my very pleasant duty to welcome you here on behalf of Walt Disney, Leopold Stokowski, and all the other artists and musicians whose combined talents went into the creation of this new form of entertainment, "Fantasia". What you're going to see are the designs and pictures and stories that music inspired in the minds and imaginations of a group of artists. In other words, these are not going to be the interpretations of trained ...
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The roadshow cut shows the title card at the intermission rather than the beginning, as on most prints. See more »
This unusual and very creative classic of animation combines a very interesting idea with quite a bit of imagination, plus visual effects that still hold up quite well. All but a couple of the sequences are quite enjoyable, and some especially so. Even the segments that don't work as well are usually at least interesting, since you can at least appreciate what they were trying to accomplish.
You don't really have to be all that familiar with the specific pieces of music for it to be worthwhile, since in several cases they chose to match the music with material that is rather different in nature from any original context that it may have had. And in any case, the animated sequences are intended to provide the context, in terms of the movie.
No doubt, everyone will have his or her own favorite segments, based on the music itself and on the choice of accompanying visual material. The "Sorcerer's Apprentice" sequence, with Mickey Mouse, is certainly one of the most memorable. The adaptation of "The Rite of Spring" is quite imaginative in using an entirely different setting for the music. "Night on Bald Mountain" has striking and sometimes bizarre visuals.
Many of the classic Disney features still hold up well as family entertainment, but "Fantasia" is unique for its combination of imaginative concept and visual creativity. Not every minute of it works, but that's the price of being willing to experiment. It's an enjoyable and satisfying feature that well deserves to be remembered.
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