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Fantasia (1940) Poster

(1940)

Trivia

Even after more than 60 years after its release, Disney still receives complaints from parents claiming the "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence terrified their children.
The only Walt Disney animated feature film that reaches the two-hour mark.
The animators secretly modeled elements of the Sorcerer in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" on their boss, Walt Disney. The raised eyebrow was regarded as a dead giveaway. They call the character Yen Sid, which is "Disney" spelled backwards.
During production, the animators were given no instructions for coloring. Walt Disney instructed them to use any colors they wanted--a first.
Walt Disney himself related the story of a chance meeting with Leopold Stokowski at Chasen's restaurant. They agreed to have dinner together. As they talked, Disney told of his plans to do "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and other possible projects using classical music with animation. Disney said that he was stunned when Stokowski, then one of the two most famous conductors in the country (the other being Arturo Toscanini), responded by saying, "I would like to conduct that for you." It was an offer he couldn't pass up.
The filming of the final "Ave Maria" sequence was plagued by mishaps. To achieve the effect of moving through the scene, several panes of painted glass were used. The whole setup was over 200 feet long and had to be redone three times. The first time the wrong lens was placed on the camera, and the subsequent film showed not only the artwork but the workers scurrying around it. The second time around an earthquake struck the studio, and the shot was once again scrapped. The next morning the shot was redone, the film was shipped to the lab, processed and couriered to the premiere in New York where it was spliced into the final print with only four hours to spare.
The first American film to use stereophonic sound as well as the first and only film recorded in Fantasound.
The surrealist painter Salvador Dalí made some illustrations for the movie, but his ideas were later discarded.
The primeval Earth scene was filmed using a mixture of porridge, mud, and other ingredients and was enhanced by animation; apart from the orchestra sequences, it is the only live-action sequence in the whole movie.
Early on, Walt Disney and Leopold Stokowski considered having fragrances dispersed into the theater at certain points in the movie to heighten the experience. Suggestions included cereus for "Claire de Lune," jasmine for the "Waltz of the Flowers" segment of "The Nutcracker Suite," incense for "Ave Maria," and gunpowder for "The Sorcerer's Apprentice." Disney dropped the idea because of the difficulty of clearing one scent from the theater before spraying in the next one.
At 124 minutes in length, this is the longest Disney animated feature.
For "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", Mickey Mouse was redesigned by Fred Moore to give him a more modern look and eyes with pupils for the first time. By the time the movie was finally released (two years after "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" was supposed to be finished as a stand-alone short), four regular Mickey Mouse films (starting with The Pointer (1939) and the promotional short Mickey's Surprise Party (1939)) had been completed and released using the new Mickey design.
The orchestra that appears in the interstitial segments of the film is not the actual The Philadelphia Orchestra, but rather a collection of local Hollywood musicians and Disney studio employees such as Paul J. Smith and James MacDonald.
In the "Pastoral Symphony" segment there was originally a scene showing stereotyped black assistant centaurs shining the hooves of white centaurs. The chief of these was Sunflower, who had a very stereotypical look: big, red lips and wild, messy hair. It was not until the 1969 re-release that this was thought to be objectionable, and all subsequent releases until 1980 had an abrupt cut at this point. Every subsequent release after 1990 includes the scene, but with the section blown up so that it only shows the faces of the white female centaurs.
This is thought to be the first American film to be released with no credits at all shown on-screen except for the intermission title card (not even the customary "Walt Disney presents"). Other than the film's title, the phrases "Color by Technicolor", "copyright 1940 by The Walt Disney Company", "certificate # 5940", and "RCA Sound Recording" are on the one frame. Programs containing the credits were distributed to patrons at the initial showings of the movie in 1940. The data was added to the 1990 50th anniversary edition at the end of the movie and is used in IMDb's credits as though they were in the original movie.
When Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971, the only featured composer still living in 1940) was contacted about the rights to use "The Rite of Spring," he offered to compose a completely new piece for Walt Disney. This was not taken, and Stravinsky hated Leopold Stokowski's re-orchestration and re-organization of the piece, the original order of the sections was jumbled, and two of them were completely left out.
This is Steven Spielberg's favorite animated movie of all time.
Bela Lugosi served as a live-action model for Chernabog, the demon named after the god of evil in Slavonic mythology in "Night on Bald Mountain". Lugosi spent several days at the Disney studios, where he was filmed doing evil, demon-like poses for the animators to use as a reference. However, Bill Tytla, the animator in charge of Chernabog, was dissatisfied with Lugosi's performance, and had sequence director Wilfred Jackson pose for the cameras. Thus it was Jackson, not Lugosi, who appeared on-screen as Chernabog. Tytla supervised the animation of both him and the sorcerer in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", whose name Yen Sid (Disney spelled backwards) was originally going to be used for Chernabog. The animators modeled sorcerer after Nigel De Brulier but secretly added in some elements of their boss, Walt Disney. The raised eyebrow was regarded as a dead giveaway.
Disney digitally re-recorded the soundtrack for the 1982 re-release because the original Leopold Stokowski soundtrack from 1940 sounded dated and very limited in fidelity. However, for the 1990 50th Anniversary release Disney reverted to the original soundtrack from 1940, which they cleaned up as well as possible (although the limited fidelity could not be corrected) and this is the soundtrack the film has today.
The initial wide release was a dismal box-office failure. In later years some theater chains, which would normally run any Disney release, would not book the reissues of this film. However, by the 1969 reissue the film attracted considerable interest for its supposedly psychedelic imagery and Disney marketed the film accordingly to take advantage of it. The reissue was successful and the film's reputation and popular appeal grew from that point to where its first home video release in 1991 broke records for sales.
Walt Disney originally wanted to re-release the film each year with new music segments, but this proved overambitious. Among the pieces that were at least storyboarded for insertion were Jean Sibelius' "Swan of Tuonela," Richard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries," Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" and Carl Maria von Weber's "Invitation to the Waltz" (a new concept that would have starred Peter Pegasus from the "Pastoral" segment). Some of the other originally unused ideas were later incorporated into Fantasia 2000 (1999).
The Night On Bald Mountain sequence was cut from the film when originally released on video. When the sequence was shown in 1940 the studio was overrun with calls and letters from parents who complained that the sequence scared their children. It has since been restored to its original place in the film on subsequent home video releases.
Unused cell-prints exist of the "Pastoral Symphony" sequence during the bathing scene in the brook, which show the female centaurs as bare-breasted while they wash themselves.
Character actress Ruby Dandridge served as the live-action reference model for Hyacinth Hippo in the "Dance of the Hours" sequence.
"Ave Maria" is the only piece in the film to feature vocals. All others are strictly instrumental.
The 2000 restoration was the first time the longer, so-called roadshow version of the film was seen after the initial release. This version contains much longer interstitials from Deems Taylor explaining what will be seen. The picture of these segments was easy to find and was cleaned up, since most of them were used in the 1990 restoration, but the soundtrack for the segments that had not been seen since the 1940s either could not be found or was in terrible shape. After much debate, actor Corey Burton was called in to dub all of Taylor's dialog, but the original narration can be heard in the soundtrack sequence halfway through the picture.
At the beginning of the Chinese Dance segment of "The Nutcracker Suite," Hop Low, the little mushroom, does a little jump while criss-crossing his legs. Animator Art Babbitt got the idea from The Three Stooges--it's one of Curly Howard's signature moves.
Originally Gabriel Pierné's "Cydalise" was to have been the musical choice for the Greek mythology setting, but Walt Disney decided it wasn't expressive enough for the story, so Ludwig van Beethoven's "Pastoral Symphony" was chosen instead.
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James Wong Howe served as cinematographer for the live-action segments uncredited.
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The images of dinosaurs from the "Rite of Spring" segment went on to inspire the "Primeval World" diorama following the "Grand Canyon" diorama on the Disneyland Railroad.
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Before Leopold Stokowski agreed to conduct the music for the film, Arturo Toscanini was considered as conductor. In the 1990s book "Fantasia", John Culhane describes how he was told that members of the Disney staff were busy listening to a 78-RPM album of Toscanini conducting 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice', but quickly hid it when they heard that Stokowski was actually on his way to the studio.
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The static title card was originally shown at the film's midway point instead of at the beginning to introduce a 15-minute intermission used in the roadshow release; the "FANTASIA" title would remain projected on the house curtains until the beginning of the film's second act. Subsequent edited re-releases of the film shifted the title card from its intermission to its actual beginning, but for the 2000 DVD restoration the title card is returned to the original midway-point, and even includes the RKO Radio Pictures distribution credit.
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The first film to be presented to the general public in full digital sound. In February 1985, the digitally re-recorded soundtrack premiered at the Plitt Century Plaza Theatre in Century City (Los Angeles). The theater was equipped with the Digital ready HPS-4000 sound system and had the acoustic power equivalent to 10 symphony orchestras.
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After initially considering and then rejecting the suggestion that Dopey (from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)) would be the star of what he saw as the ultimate Silly Symphony, Walt Disney decided that his favorite, Mickey Mouse (a character whose future on the silver screen was a prime concern for Walt), should play the key role in an animated special featuring the music "L'Apprenti Sorcie" ("The Sorcerer's Apprentice") by French composer Paul Dukas instead.
When the ostrich slips and falls on her rump, there is an added drum beat to the score. It was omitted (possibly overlooked) in the 1982 digital re-master since it was not part of the original score. It has since been restored.
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The 1947 re-release was distributed with Peter and the Wolf (1946), which was originally a segment in Make Mine Music (1946), shown as a featurette, much the way the first two or three Disney "Winnie the Pooh" shorts were shown before the main feature in theaters. This was the closest Walt Disney ever got to continuously updating "Fantasia" with new segments, although the "Peter and the Wolf" cartoon was not actually incorporated into "Fantasia."
In June 2008 it was ranked #5 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Animation".
The soundtrack album, a three-LP set of all the music used in the film, was not released until 1957. In 1990, in conjunction with the film's 50th Anniversary restoration, it was released on CD (the soundtrack for the 1982 version, newly recorded in digital sound and conducted by Irwin Kostal instead of Leopold Stokowski, had already been released on CD but was soon deleted in favor of the Stokowski version.)
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In "The Nutcracker Suite," considerable live-action footage was shot of Joyce Coles and Marge Champion (who, as Marjorie Belcher, had modeled for Snow White), in long ballet skirts to simulate the movements of the blossoms for "The Dance of the Reed Flutes." For the same segment, Walt insisted that his effects technicians devised a way of transferring Elmer Plummer's (an art teacher at the Chouinard Art Institute) preliminary drawings into animation. After various attempts were rejected, they finally came up with stippled cels, on which the painted characters had a delicate pastel-like look.
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The first major Hollywood film to be released with no written credits appearing onscreen except the intermission title card.
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For the ostriches and alligator in the "Dance of the Hours" and the demons in the "Night on Bald Mountain" number, Walt Disney hired the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as live-action reference models. Among the dancers who posed for the animators: Léonide Massine, Tamara Toumanova, Alexandra Danilova, Irina Baronova, Frederic Franklin, Nathalie Krassovska, Milada Mladova, Cyd Charisse, and Marc Platt.
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Sterling Holloway recorded narration for "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" before the idea was scrapped. He later lent his voice for the "Peter and the Wolf" sequence in the "Fantasia"-esque film Make Mine Music (1946). Both tracks are featured on the 2015 Legacy Collection soundtrack of this film.
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The music for "The Dance of the Hours" was previously used in an early Silly Symphony cartoon, Springtime (1929).
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Early story treatments for the "Rite of Spring" extended the time line to the evolutionary appearance of humans and the discovery of fire. However, creationists threatened to cause trouble for the film if that was included. That, along with other factors, resulted in the segment being cut to what is shown in the film.
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While perceptions of dinosaurs by both scientists and the public at large have changed considerably since this film was released, aspects of their depiction in the film are considered more progressive and accurate than most of their contemporaries. They were generally depicted in the film as "dynamic and agile" creatures, while most of the contemporary depictions had them as slow-moving reptiles. Certain scenes portray them as social animals and the image of the baby Triceratops staying close to his/her parents implies family life. This was nearly unheard of in contemporary depictions.
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The name of the dancing hippo in the "Dance of the Hours" segment is Hyacinth, the Ostrich is Mlle. Upanova, and the alligator is Ben Ali Gator.
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The music for "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" was the only piece that was not recorded by The Philadelphia Orchestra. It was recorded by a hand-picked orchestra on a shooting stage that had been configured as a recording stage at the Pathé Studios in Culver City (later the RKO Pathé Studios, Desilu Studios, and now the Culver Studios, part of Sony Pictures Entertainment), sometime around 1938-39. The rest of the music was recorded in Philadelphia by The Philadelphia Orchestra.
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The movie was named as one of the 20 Most Overrated Movies of All Time by Premiere Magazine.
All prints made between 1941-56 were re-mixed in monaural sound. The stereo was not restored until the 1956 re-release.
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On the 1982 digital re-recording of the soundtrack, Irwin Kostal decided to use Modest Mussorgsky's original orchestration (which was previously unpublished until 1968) of "Night on Bald Mountain," which is said to be much fiercer than the version orchestrated by Leopold Stokowski that was used on the original.
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Despite its reputation as one of Disney's biggest box-office flops, subsequent re-releases have made the film a hit in its own right. As of 2012, it has grossed $76.4 million in domestic US revenue alone.
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Premiered at the Broadway Theatre at 1681 Broadway at 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019.
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Chernabog was referred to as "Yen Sid" in the pencil tests for the "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence. Eventually "Yen Sid" was used as the name of Mickey Mouse's magic teacher in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" scene in the film. The animation of both characters were supervised by Bill Tytla.
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A segment featuring Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune" was animated and intended as part of the original release but cut due to the film's already excessive length. "Clair de Lune" was reworked and rescored as the "Blue Bayou" sequence in Make Mine Music (1946). A restored version of the original "Clair de Lune" sequence, released in the 1990s as a stand-alone short, can be found on the "Fantasia Legacy" supplemental DVD. The framing Leopold Stokowski footage for the segment could not be found, however, so the sequence is framed by recycled footage from the "Toccata and Fugue" segment.
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The main theme in "Dance of the Hours" is adapted from the opera "La Gioconda," composed by Amilcare Ponchielli (1834-86). This theme can also be heard in the song "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (A Letter from Camp)", sung by radio comic Allan Sherman (1924-73). This was also not the first time that the music was heard in a Disney film; it was previously heard in the 1929 Silly Symphony cartoon Springtime (1929).
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Keeping in the tradition of "Fantasia" being a stereophonic sound revolution at the time of its original release, Disney has always re-issued the film in the latest theatrical surround sound systems at the time of each re-issue since 1956: optical stereophonic sound (1956); digital re-recording of the soundtrack (Dolby Stereo reissue 1981-82); restored FantaSound Dolby Stereo reissue (1990). For home theater systems: Dolby Surround 3-4 channel sound (VHS, 1991), Dolby Digital 5.1 sound (DVD, 2000), and DTS 7.1 channel sound (Blu-ray Disc, 2010) There has never been a re release in theatrical Dolby Digital or DTS sound because the movie was released solely for the home video market since its VHS release.
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This film is credited with popularizing "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor". While previously performed as one of many works attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), it was not among the better known ones. Leopold Stokowski's orchestration helped cement its reputation as a masterpiece and a signature work of Bach. It became more famous and started being performed with more frequency.
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Both the "Nutcracker Suite" (1892) and "The Nutcracker" (1892) are inspired by an established story, but this film never used its plot or characters. The original work is the short story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" (1816) by E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776-1822). It is a Christmas story where the toy nutcracker of a young girl comes to life. The Hoffmann story and its derivative works have developed a relatively large cast of of characters, which were available for use.
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First appearance of Mickey Mouse in a Disney animated feature film.
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The introduction to "The Rite of Spring" attributes the extinction of the dinosaurs to a gigantic Dust Bowl event The term "Dust Bowl" was more familiar to the original audience of the film than to modern ones. It was coined to describe a period of severe dust storms in the 1930s, caused by severe drought and wind erosion in the North American area of the Great Plains. The weather event started in 1930 and continued until 1939--a year before the release of this film.
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The design of the human upper part of Sunflower, the black African centaurette, derives from the coon iconography of the early to mid-20th century. Like Sunflower, Africans and African-Americans were typically depicted with dark skin, big lips and wide eyes. Her hairstyles, with their multiple braids, derive from the typical depictions of the Pickaninny. Pickanniny was a term for caricature depictions of dark-skinned children, usually (though not exclusively) of African descent. Besides other features associated with the type, the Pickanniny was typically depicted with hair styled in multiple braids and sticking out in all directions. Pickanniny characters were popular at the time this film was produced. They were featured in children's literature, films and occasionally animation.
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There are at least four different female Centaurs with black African features depicted in the "Pastoral Symphony". The one acting as a servant and beautician to other Centaurettes has been named Sunflower. Due to her having three different hairstyles in various scenes, there is speculation that she may represent more than one character. The one rolling the red carpet down for Bacchus has been named Otika. The two with the lower bodies of zebras instead of horses have never been named. Collectively they are the first black African (or African-American) characters featured in a Disney animated feature film.
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The characters of Sunflower and Otika were animated by Milt Neil. Neil was involved in the creation of several Disney feature films and shorts of the 1940s. He is mostly remembered as the designer of a non-Disney character called Howdy Doody.
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The first feature film to be shown in multichannel sound. The original prints featured soundtracks that were recorded in a process known as Fantasound, a four-track directional stereophonic system that was invented especially to record the soundtrack for the film by RCA and the Walt Disney Studios technical team, led by William E. Garity. The Leopold Stokowski-conducted orchestra audio was recorded onto eight separate soundtracks (six channels recorded individual sections of the orchestra, the seventh recorded a mix of the first six channels and the eighth recorded a distant pickup of the entire orchestra), which were then mixed down to three tracks (left, center and right). The three music tracks were optically matted with a fourth control track (containing signal tones that varied the speaker dynamics) onto a filmstrip separate from the projector print. Over 90 speakers were used for the playback of the Fantasound audio during the premiere of the film on 12 November 1940. A more typical Fantasound setup used three speakers behind the screen and 65 others placed around the other three walls of the theater. However, Fantasound was discontinued due to the amount of sound equipment required and the time necessary to make the installation. The advent of wartime conditions also precluded the possibility of developing mobile units that could have lessened installation time and costs. Therefore, only 12 venues ever played the original Fantasound version of the film, and only 16 Fantasound-equipped prints were ever created. When RKO took over distribution for the roadshow version in January 1941, the film was shipped with a conventional monaural track. Disney technicians recreated Fantasound for the 50th Anniversary release in 1990 using modern digital technology and the original sound cues from the Disney archives, and this mix was encoded into the subsequent VHS and laserdisc releases. This mix is active, and even aggressive at times, with music swirling or jumping around the room. However, the DVD's mix sounds considerably different. While no official verification can be found that it was changed, the DVD's surround mix is more passive, with the music in the front channels and only concert-hall reverb in the rear channels. The sound is cleaner, but it is not Fantasound as it was described in 1940 and as it appeared in 1990.
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The film was rather unusual in combining "Toccata and Fugue in D minor" with abstract animations, rather than horror scenes. "Toccata" had become associated with horror films in the silent film era, when the dramatic music was used to illustrate horror and villainy. In the sound era, it served the same role in such hit films Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) and The Black Cat (1934).
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At the time the film was produced, "The Nutcracker Suite" (1892) by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-93) had the distinction of a being a popular work originating from an unsuccessful ballet production. Tchaikovsky composed the suite as part of a longer score intended to accompany the ballet "The Nutcracker" (1892), which was choreographed by Marius Petipa (1818-1910) and Lev Ivanov (1834-1901). The ballet performance flopped, with both the choreography and the dancing performance savaged by critics. However, the music received positive reviews. The suite was extracted from the original score and performed on its own, soon becoming one of Tchaikovsky's most popular works. When "Fantasia" was produced, the suite was famous and the original ballet was rarely performed. A few successful performances started vindicating the reputation of the ballet around 1944. By the late 1960s, it became highly popular.
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Some of the dances in "Fantasia" which are used to accompany the "Nutcracker Suite" (1892) are inspired by characters appearing in the ballet "The Nutcracker" (1892) . Including the "Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy", which is named after a specific character.
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While the character Mickey Mouse plays in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is based on the unnamed sorcerer's apprentice in the 1797 original story and inherits his characterization, the sorcerer Yen Sid is more of an original Disney creation. In the original story, the unnamed sorcerer appears only at the finale, rescues his apprentice from the out-of-control magical objects, and speaks only two lines. Then the original story ends abruptly with no time for the sorcerer to react to his apprentice's misuse of magic and the consequent mess. The sorcerer receives no physical description and no real characterization. The Disney staff were free to decide what the sorcerer would look like and how would he react to Mickey's blunder. They created a stern-looking figure who is silently angry by the finale.
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While the "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" apprentice story is original to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), several of his story elements are much older. Goethe is thought to have partly based his story on a passage of "Philopseudes" ("Lover of Lies") by Lucian (c. 125-180), an ancient writer specializing in satirical works. "Philopseudes" is a collection of supernatural stories, presented as humorous tall tales, and connected by a frame story. In one of them, the elderly character Eucrates narrates a story of his youth. He supposedly spent time in Egypt and met a local sorcerer by the name of Pancrates. Pancrates had various extraordinary abilities, but his most impressive feat was the ability to animate inanimate objects by performing an incantation. He reportedly habitually used this power on door bars, brooms and pestles. The chosen object would be dressed like a man and move about like a man. The animated objects would serve as servants and perform chores for Pancrates, fetching water, buying provisions, and cooking. Then Pancrates would return them to their original inanimate state. Eucrates was impressed and wanted to learn this power for himself, but Pancrates refused to share his knowledge. So one day, Eucrates spied on him and overheard the incantation. The following day, Eucrates felt ready to perform the incantation himself and animated a pestle. He turned his new magical servant into a water-carrier. When the thistle returned with a full pitcher of water, Eucrates attempted to return it into its original state. Only to discover he did not know how to do so. The pitcher continued to automatically repeat the original order and fetch more water, until the house Eucrates stayed in was full with it. Desperate to stop it, Eucrates took an axe and cut the pestle in two. This did not stop the magic, it merely duplicated it. Both halves of the pestle continued to follow the original order and fetch more water. The situation ended when Pancrates appeared and turned the two water-carriers back to inanimate objects. Pancrates then reacted angrily to the misuse of magic by Eucrates, and severed all ties with him. The narrator finishes the story by lamenting that to his old age, he never learned how to stop the spell. He still knows how to animate objects, but does not dare to do so.
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The sorcerer Yen Sid is a silent character in this film. Several of his subsequent roles were also silent or with little dialogue. He never received a regular voice actor until the release of the video game Kingdom Hearts II (2005), where he was voiced by Corey Burton. Burton has since voiced all major appearances of Yen Sid.
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The lifting of the eyebrow that Yen Sid does when angry is attributed to the animators basing him partly on Walt Disney. The animators of "Fantasia" were familiar with this particular movement of Walt, because it was part of the "dirty look" he gave them when unsatisfied with their work.
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Yen Sid's role as the mentor of the sorcerer's apprentice served as the inspiration of the magical mentor character Balthazar Blake from the Disney live-action film The Sorcerer's Apprentice (2010).
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One frequent complaint against "The Rite of Spring"'s depiction of the extinction of the dinosaurs is that it never depicts how the climate change that did it started. The current dominant theory is that it was caused by the Chicxulub asteroid whose impact caused prolonged winter conditions and consequently killed the plants and plankton. The food chain was disrupted and other species started dying out. What is often overlooked by those who express this complaint is that "Fantasia"'s creators could not have known of this theory. The current dominant theory derives from a 1953 original hypothesis, which was confirmed and further elaborated in 1980. It did not really become the scientific consensus until the 1990s.
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For "The Rite of Spring" and its depictions of prehistoric animals, Walt Disney and his stuff consulted experts. Palaeontologists Roy Chapman Andrews (1884-1960), Barnum Brown (1873-1963) and evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley (1887-1975) served as advisers for its production. Andrews had become famous in the 1920s for discovering several previously unknown species of dinosaur, such as the Protoceratops and Velociraptor, and uncovered the first nests full of dinosaur eggs. Brown was the paleontologist who discovered the first known remains of Tyrannosaurus Rex. Huxley was an expert in zoology, biology and taxonomy.
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The fight between the Tyrannosaurus Rex and the Stegosaurus in "The Rite of Spring" segment has been cited as an exemplary depiction of the "survival of the fittest" concept. Stegosaurus is a giant in size, his long coat of scales serves as his armor and the four huge spikes of his tail serve as his weapons. The Tyrannosaurus has powerful jaws and saber-sharp teeth, and is large and strong. Both are powerful fighters, and the Tyrannosaurus only manages to win by breaking the neck of his opponent--in other words, they use the characteristics evolution has equipped them with in a powerful struggle for life, and the fittest of the two survives.
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The "Pastoral Symphony" segment and its characters were based on Greco-Roman mythology. It makes "Fantasia" the first animated feature film to use Classical mythology as a source, instead of fairy tales and more recent literature.
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The "Pastoral Symphony" segment's depiction of unicorns and pegasi includes juvenile individuals with coats of various colors, and is considered the oldest such depiction in film. Several sources point that in concept, design, and coloration they resemble the unicorn and pegasus ponies from the "My Little Pony" franchise, originally created in the 1980s. There is speculation that "Fantasia" served as a direct influence on the later work.
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This is the first of two Disney animated feature films to feature Centaurs among the cast. The other is Hercules (1997), which includes the centaur Nessus as a minor villain.
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The character Sunflower from the "Pastoral Symphony" is a minor but rather famous character in this film. Sunflower is a Centaurette (female centaur) who is depicted as being a hybrid of a young black African girl and a donkey. She is shown performing duties as a servant and beautician to the other Centaurettes. In the 1960s there was controversy that the character represented a racist and negative depiction of black people, including both her design and her subservient role in the film. Reacting to the controversy, Disney deleted her scenes from the film in 1969. In 1990 the scenes were restored, but the shots involving Sunflower were cropped so that she could not be seen, which has remained true for all subsequent releases. However, the unedited scenes were preserved in old tapes and circulated among those interested in the character and her depiction. The scenes are widely available on the Internet, with a few articles and pages devoted to analyzing them. Sunflower and her depiction have also been discussed in published works by film critics and scholars specializing in the depiction of minorities in film and animation. Despite Disney's efforts to de-emphasize her, Sunflower has more of a presence in public consciousness than most other characters from the same film.
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The African centaurettes Sunflower and Otika have similar designs and are occasionally confused with each other.
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While most of the Centaurettes were unnamed in official Disney publications relating to this film, the official draft of the scenes did assign names to them. The names were used to help the animators working on them distinguish one from the other. The names in order of of appearance in the draft were Sandra, Hilda, Melinda, Judy and Cabina. Melinda was the only name to survive in in official publications about the film. It was assigned to the the centaurette with the pale blue body and yellow hair in pigtails, who receives her own scene. She is depicted sadly sitting under a tree, having been the only centaurette who failed to pair up with a centaur. The cupids play matchmaker and hook her up with Brudus, a male centaur with pale blue skin who was also sad and lonely.
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Sunflower helps prepare the Centaurettes for their upcoming search for a mate by polishing their hoofs and decorating their tails with flowers. The scene likely derives from depictions of Southern belles and their female slaves/servants. The belles were often depicted being helped by their servants to improve their appearance for upcoming social events, in hopes of attracting suitable suitors. A few online commentaries suggest that the scene was likely inspired by the most famous depiction of the Southern belle/female slave relationship of the pre-Civil War era. In Gone with the Wind (1939), for example, the female slave Mammy helps beautify Southern belle Scarlett O'Hara. The earlier film was released while "Fantasia" was in production.
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A scene of the "Pastoral Symhony" segment depicts an unnamed, pink-haired centaurette walking with a garland of flowers around her waist. Sunflower prances proudly along behind her, holding the other end of the garland high in the air as if it were the train of a wedding gown. The draft of the film seems to describe the scene simply as "Atika (colored centaurette) holds Hilda's train." While Hilda was likely the working name of the pink-haired centaurette, the meaning of Atika is less clear. It has been interpreted as either an early name for Sunflower, as a confirmation of the theory that the three versions of Sunflower's hairstyle were originally meant to represent three look-alike characters, or as an indication that the draft of the centaurette scenes included characters who did not make it to the film.
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The film was originally known as The Concert Feature or Musical Feature. Hal Horne, a publicist for Disney's film distributor RKO Radio Pictures, wished for a different title, and gave the suggestion Filmharmonic Concert. Stuart Buchanan then held a contest at the studio for a title that produced almost 1,800 suggestions including Bach to Stravinsky and Bach and Highbrowski by Stokowski. Still, the favourite among the film's supervisors was Fantasia, an early working title that had even grown on Horne, "It isn't the word alone but the meaning we read into it."
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Disney's third animated feature.
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While the film depicts numerous prehistoric species, only the Tyrannosaurus Rex is actually named by Deems Taylor.
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While the causes are not fully explained in the film, "The Rite of Spring" segment depicts the extinction of dinosaurs as a result of climate change. The environment that formerly sustained them changes and they cannot handle the change. From the vegetation needed for the herbivorous dinosaurs, only ruined trees and branches remain. In place of the water they all need, only dried-up pools remain. There are no clouds, only a mercilessly burning son. Without food, water and cover from the sun, dinosaurs are depicted first suffering and then leaving only their bones behind. This is probably the earliest film to depict climate change in such dramatic terms. It can be seen as a precursor to apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic films that use climate change as an element.
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While the "Pastoral Symphony" (1808) is the only such work by Ludwig van Beethoven, pastoral symphonies were hardly uncommon to his era. An historical study of symphonies estimated there were over 70 with pastoral themes by various creators. Storms, however, were relatively rare as a theme. The study listed only ten of them.
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While the donkey character Jacchus is not based on any mythological character, having a donkey serve as the steed of Dionysus/Bacchus is consistent with ancient depictions. In vase paintings, Dionysus is often depicted riding a donkey. In one of the legends of Dionysus as a child, the god escapes his enemies by fleeing on the back of a donkey. Also, Aristophanes' hints about the Dionysian Mysteries, the main cult of the god, include mention of a donkey carrying something sacred.
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Sunflower appears in relatively few scenes of the film, but still manages to have three different hair styles.In her first appearance, Sunflower's hair is styled in four braids and each braid has its own ribbon. In her second appearance, she has two only two braids (with ribbons) and a large sunflower on the rest of her hair. In her third and final appearance she has two braids again and two small sunflowers on them.
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The film's program opens with "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor", which is credited to Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). However, the authorship of this famous work is actually in dispute. The time, place and circumstances of its composition are unknown and the first known publication dates to 1833. The only known 18th-century manuscript version of the work is a copy by minor composer Johannes Ringk (1717-78). The manuscript attributes the work to Bach, but the title and music notations it provides are Italian rather than German. This implies an Italian source for the manuscript. Some passages of the work actually closely resemble surviving works of teacher and student composers Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706) and Johann Heinrich Buttstett (1666-1727).
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The idea to combine Leopold Stokowski's orchestration of "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" with abstract animations is credited to Oskar Fischinger (1900-67). Fischinger was an animator who specialized in the abstract. He was the one who designed the relevant sequence in "Fantasia" but never received credit for it. While the film was still produced, he quit the Disney studio in protest. Walt Disney had decided to alter the original designs of the artist to be more representational. When the film was released, the designs had been rendered semi-abstract.
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"The Sorcerer's Apprentice" segment is built upon "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (1897) by Paul Dukas (1865-1935), which is a tone poem based on the story "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (1797) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). Both Dukas's and Disney's adaptations closely follow the plot of Goethe's original story.
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While the story depicted in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" segment can be traced back to the 1797 story by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and the ancient prototype by Lucian, it also bears resemblance to other well-known tales. Since antiquity, there are stories where a character learns to perform an amazing feat by power of magic, science or technology but then does not know how to stop or control whatever he/she created or unleashed. An ancient example is the story of Midas, where the King of Phrygia gains the magical ability to turn everything he touches into gold but cannot control this power. A more recent example is the novel "Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus" (1818), where Victor Frankenstein learns how to give life to his creations, but can neither handle dealing with them nor control them.
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Composer French Dukas (1865-1935), who created "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" music, has the somewhat unflattering distinction of being mostly famous for this one work. Dukas wrote a fair amount of music, but was a perfectionist and destroyed many of his pieces out of dissatisfaction with them. Only a few of his compositions remain, and none but "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is frequently performed.
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The sorcerer Yen Sid was adapted to the Disney comics in 1941. He has had relatively few appearances in comic books over the years. His most notable stories include a "Li'l Bad Wolf" story from 1951, an adaptation of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" with additional scenes from 1953, a Fethry Duck story from 1974, another adaptation of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" from 1991, a crossover story from 1993 where he battles Magica DeSpell and Mad Madam Min, a crossover story from 2007 where he encounters Maleficent, the comic book adaptation of "Epic Mickey" from 2010, and a sequel to the "Epic Mickey" story from 2012.
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Besides "Fantasia" and a few comic book stories, the character Yen Sid rarely appeared in Disney media. In more recent years, this has changed. He had several appearances in the television series House of Mouse (2001) and its spin-off film Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse (2001), had more prominent roles in the video game series Kingdom Hearts (2002) and Epic Mickey (2010), served as a god-like creator of worlds in the video games Fantasia: Music Evolved (2014) and Disney Magical World (2013) and had a role in the novel "Descendants: Isle of the Lost" (2015)
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Since the name of Yen Sid is not spoken in "Fantasia", it remained obscure for years. A 1971 episode of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (1954) called him "Merlin", which is the name of another Disney character, the sorcerer from The Sword in the Stone (1963).
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Yen Sid's design closely resembles a later Disney character and has been suggested as a template for him. The character is Kashekim Nedakh, King of Atlantis from Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001). Both characters are slender, elderly, with long white hair and beards, balding at the top, and are dressed in robes.
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"The Rite of Spring" (1913) by Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971), used in the film, is famous as an orchestral concert work, but was originally composed for a ballet. It was created on commission by the Ballets Russes, a traveling ballet company. It was the third work for this client created by Stravinski, following "The Firebird" (1910) and "Petrushka" (1911).
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The title "The Rite of Spring" of the composition refers to the term "rite" as a synonym of ritual. The 1913 ballet for which the composition was composed features a fantasy depiction of a pagan spring ritual. It involved several characters and episodes, including an old woman acting as an augur and seer, ritual dancing, an old male sage who ritually blesses the earth and acts as head priest, and a young girl chosen as a ritual sacrifice and dancing to death. Part of the idea and presentation came from Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) himself, deriving from his own conception of paganism and its rituals. The rest came from his consultations with archaeologist and mystic Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947), who was considered an expert on the subject.
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Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) attributed the inspiration for "The Rite of Spring" and the accompanying pagan story to a vision he had for an original story: "I saw in my imagination a solemn pagan rite: sage elders, seated in a circle, watching a young girl dance herself to death. They were sacrificing her to propitiate the god of Spring." Some of his biographers, however, have questioned whether his idea was actually original or based in a previous work by another writer. Stravinsky was familiar with the work of poet Sergey Gorodetsky (1884-1967), as he had adapted some of Gorodetsky's poems to musical works. One of Gorodetsky's poems, called "Yarila" (1907), involves "pagan rites, sage elders, and the propitiatory sacrifice of a young maiden".
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While "The Rite of Spring" (1913) is regarded today as one of Igor Stravinsky's better known and most popular works, its early reception was decidedly mixed. Audiences and critics were divided on whether it was an innovative work with beautiful music, or mere cacophony, barbarism and a blunder by Stravinsky. Fellow composer Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) described it as "the work of a madman". Performance of the music alone in concerts started in 1914 and gained Stravinsky many admirers. The reputation of the music vastly improved over later performances.
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While "The Rite of Spring" (1913), used in the film, is regarded as part of 20th-century classical music, it is considered to have very little in common with its predecessors from previous eras. Its creator, Igor Stravinsky, incorporated in the work his experiments in tonality, meter, rhythm, stress and dissonance. He broke with the traditions of classical music and the work is often considered an example of avant-garde music.
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Composer Gunther Schuller (1925-2015) was first introduced to "The Rite of Spring" (1913) by viewing this film. He cited it as a key moment in his life and an influence on his musical career. He believed that the same was likely true for other musical professionals. In his words, "I hope [Igor Stravinsky] appreciated that hundreds--perhaps thousands--of musicians were turned on to 'The Rite of Spring' . . . through 'Fantasia', musicians who might otherwise never have heard the work".
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"Fantasia" is the first animated feature film to prominently feature non-avian dinosaurs.
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Dinosaurs and other prehistoric species in "The Rite of Spring" segment include the Anchisaurus, the Ankylosaurus, the Apatosaurus, the Archaeopteryx, the Brachiosaurus, the Brontosaurus, the Camarasaurus, the Camptosaurus, the Ceratosaurus, the Chasmosaurus, the Cladoselache, the Compsognathus, the Corythosaurus, the Dimetrodon, the Dimorphodon, the Diplodocus, the Edmontosaurus, the Elasmosaurus, the Eusthenopteron, the Gryposaurus, the Hallopus, the Hypsilophodon, the Kannemeyeria, the Kritosaurus, the Massospondylus, the Nothosaurus, the Ornithomimus, the Oviraptor, the Parasaurolophus, the Plachochelys, the Plateosaurus, the Plesiosaurus, the Polypterus, the Psittacosaurus, the Pteranodon, the Stegosaurus, the Struthiomimus, the Triceratops, the Trilobite, the Troodon, the Tylosaurus, and the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Surviving concept art indicates that there were plans to include more of them, but they never materialized.
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During the fight between the Tyrannosaurus Rex and the Stegosaurus, the Stegosaurus is depicted using his spiked tail as a defensive weapon. This has been cited as the earliest depiction of the concept in film. It has since been a common part of the depictions of the Stegosaurus in popular culture.
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The film states that dinosaur translates to "terrible lizard", though it does not really explain the etymology. The term derives from the Latin name "Dinosauria" which was coined in 1842 by Richard Owen (1804-1892). It derives from the Greek terms "deinos" (which variously means "terrible", "horrible", "fearful", "astounding", "marvelous", "mighty", "powerful", "wondrous", "strange") and "sauros" ("lizard", "reptile"). "Sauros" is a variation of the more common Greek term "saura" which has the same meaning.
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The film names Tyrannosaurus Rex but does not explain the origins and meaning of the name. The name was coined in 1905 by Henry Fairfield Osborn Jr. (1857-1935). It derives from the Greek terms "tyrannos" ("tyrant", "absolute ruler"), and "sauros" ("lizard", "reptile") and the Latin term "rex" ("king"). The full name therefore translates to "tyrant lizard the king" or "King Tyrant Lizard". The name was chosen to emphasize the animal's size and perceived dominance over other species of the time.
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A curious statement in the spoken introduction to "The Rite of Spring" segment is that dinosaurs were primarily "vegetarians". The proper term is "herbivorous", animals adapted to primarily adapted to eating plant material. However, this makes it sound as carnivorous dinosaurs were rare. The many known species of carnivorous dinosaurs known to science render the implication inaccurate.
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The depiction of the Plesiosaurs in "The Rite of Spring" segment is considered inaccurate. Their necks crane upwards and seem to be flexible. More recent understanding of this group of animals was that their necks were actually stiff, limiting their flexibility. They could probably move their neck side to side and straight ahead only, not upwards.
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The extinction of dinosaurs depicted in "The Rite of Spring" segment is probably the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, which took place about 66 million years ago. It did kill the non-avian dinosaurs, the mosasaurs, the plesiosaurs and the pterosaurs--along with a number of birds, mammals, other reptiles, marine life and plants--but the segment has been accused by some of exaggerating its effects by having no life survive the extinction event. Actually, many species of the Cretaceous survived the event and were ancestors to many new species during the Paleogene. The effects of the event on mammals, for example, helped them diversify from small, simple forms into larger and more complex ones.
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One aspect of the "The Rite of Spring" segment's depiction of the Plesiosaurs that was considered accurate in the 1940s, has now been disproved. They are depicted congregating on land. The then-current theory was that Plesiosaurs, the marine reptile group, would be able to crawl on land and lay their eggs. The concept derived from the life cycle of modern sea turtles. Both aspects of the theory are now considered ludicrous. They had whale-like bodies and crawling on the land would beach them. Also it was discovered that they did not lay eggs at all, they gave birth to live young.
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"The Rite of Spring" segment gives rather realistic depictions of several prehistoric species, but pays no attention to the time period each one of them lived. Any animal from the entire lifespan of the dinosaurs (231-66 million years ago) was evidently considered for inclusion by the Disney staff, and there are even a few who predated the dinosaurs.
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One element in "The Rite of Spring" segment which is often overlooked is that none of the dinosaurs and other animals are anthropomorphic or have anthropomorphic facial expressions or emotions. This was an unusual product from the Disney studio, which specialized in anthropomorphic animals. The breaking with studio traditions was intentional, however. Walt Disney aimed to have the depiction of the prehistoric animals as realistic as possible.
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"The Pastoral Symphony" segment uses both the music of the 1808 original work by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) and the basic story structure he had in mind for the work. Per Beethoven's instructions, the work opens with an "awakening of cheerful feelings on arrival in the countryside".It continues with a "scene by the brook",.with an initial motif that clearly imitates flowing water which is then followed by another motif that imitates bird calls. The third section of the work represents a "merry gathering of country folk", followed by the fourth section which represents a violent thunderstorm. The fifth and final section of the work represents "happy and thankful feelings after the storm".
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"The Pastoral Symphony" (1808) by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was reportedly inspired by his love of nature and his experiences with outdoor life. He reportedly loved taking long walks throughout the year, spend his summers in the countryside, and took long nature walks. It is the only known work of Beethoven which actually has a nature theme.
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"The Pastoral Symphony" (1808) by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) is his sixth symphony and was first performed alongside his fifth one. The pairing of the two is not usually attempted. The two works are not very similar and have been described as direct opposites in harmony, pace and mood.
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"The Rite of Spring" segment contains subtle reminders of the concept of a food chain and that predators can also be prey. The first scene to depict this involves a Pteranodon. He hunts for food and manages to catch a fish, being the predator. Then he becomes the prey of a Mosausar and is killed.
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The production of "The Pastoral Symphony" (1808) by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was a slow process. Surviving sketches indicate that Beethoven started developing it in 1803, if not earlier. Most of the work is thought to have been written in late 1807 and early 1808.
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"The Pastoral Symphony" (1808), included in the film, is considered a work of Romantic music, an emerging movement at the time of its composition. The term "Romantic" in this case was meant in contrast and in opposition to the restraint and formality of Classical models. Music historians speak of the end of the Classical period and beginning of the Romantic era during the late 18th century and early 19th century. The nature theme of the work fits with one of Romanticism's characteristics, the preoccupation with nature.
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In an 1896 study of Ludwig van Beethoven;s symphonies, music historian George Grove (1820-1900) suggested that the nature theme and structure of "The Pastoral Symphony" (1808) derive from an older work. He linked them to "Le portrait musical de la nature" ("Musical portrait of nature", 1785) by Justin Heinrich Knecht (1752-1817). The earlier work is also known as "The Pastoral Symphony". As noted by historians who subscribe to this theory, the similarities are striking. Both have five segments. The Knecht symphony opens with a segment representing an introduction to a beautiful countryside. The second section represents the sky darkening and sounds of a coming storm. The third segment is devoted to the storm itself, and the fourth to the storm's end and the sky clearing. The fifth and the final segment is nature's thankful song following the storm.
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According to an assessment of the "Pastoral Symphony" (1808) by composer Hector Berlioz (1803-1859), the work has a larger scale than the depiction of a stormy day. He viewed the thunderstorm passage as representing "a frightful cataclysm, a universal deluge, the end of the world".
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The dance-like parts of the "Pastoral Symphony" (1808) were inspired by Ludwig van Beethoven's impressions of Austrian country dances, which typically took place in the late afternoon. The participants in the dance were usually farmers who enjoyed themselves following their daily work in the fields. The scherzo even contains imitation of the amateur-like musicians who played in rural bands, and represents a humorous depiction of their ineptness. Beethoven was reportedly inspired by watching a specific band of this type, where the oboist could not find the downbeat and the bassoonist was drunk and kept dozing off mid-performance.
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The happy song following the storm in the "Pastoral Symphony" (1808) was initially supposed to be religious in nature, thanking God the Creator for the end of the storm. A working title for this part was "O Lord we thank thee", but the final title became the non-religious "Shepherd's song".
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Beside's Ludwig van Beethoven's own love of nature and some musical influences by previous works, the loving depiction of nature in the "Pastoral Symphony" (1808) can be traced back to a popular book of the time. The religious book "Reflections on the Works of God in Nature" (1785) by Christoph Christian Sturm (1740-86) had a strong nature theme. The book was at once a detailed study of nature containing up to date references to scientific studies of it, a nature-loving paean to the beauties of the physical world, and a theological book connecting every aspect of nature and the natural world to the wisdom and kindness of God. It was one of the of the most popular works of the late 18th century and Beethoven owned a copy. His copy of the work survives and includes his detailed annotations on the content, indicating he studied it for years.
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Despite the reputation of the "Pastoral Symphony" (1808) as simpler in theme and composition than other symphonies by Ludwig van Beethoven, its creation was probably among the more difficult and complex ones of his career. Music historians have noted that the surviving sketches and re-writes of the work, prior to reaching its final form, are way too many for it to be a simple process. Most of his other works required fewer sketches to reach their final form.
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The published notes for the "Pastoral Symphony" (1808) indicate that the bird calls at the end of the second segment were meant to represent three different birds. Ludwig van Beethoven specifically chose a cuckoo, a nightingale and a quail.
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The "Pastoral Symphony" (1808) is a rather typical symphony in topic, having a strictly secular subject matter. However, the work may not have started this way. The storm scene has been compared to the use of storms in the religious-themed oratorios of Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) and the final segment of the "Pastoral", "the Shepherd's song", was initially conceived as a folk song equivalent of a prayer. A theory is that the work may have been a rare experiment of Ludwig van Beethoven in sacred music, possibly to compete with Haydn. He probably ended up writing a symphony instead, because it was the genre Beethoven was more comfortable with. From a commercial point of view it would make sense for Beethoven to write yet another symphony instead of an oratorio. His symphonies ranked among the most critically and commercially successful works of his career. His previous efforts to write sacred music included the oratorio "Christ on the Mount of Olives" (1803) and the mass "Mass in C major " (1807), and both are considered flops.
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The "Pastoral Symphony" was written and first performed during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-15). Unlike the fifth symphony, which is often interpreted as inspired by the wars, the "Pastoral" seems to make no reference to contemporary military events or to the figure of Napoleon. There is, however, a theory that the "Pastoral" is a political allegory. In this view the early scenes and the revelry of the peasants represent the time of peace before the wars, the storm scene represents a crisis that disrupts civilian life and either stands for the wars or for Napoleon himself, and the joyous "The Shepherd's Song"--which completes the symphony--stands for a hoped end to the wars and the return of peace.
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The "Pastoral Symphony" (1808) was first performed as part of a Ludwig van Beethoven concert at the "Theater an der Wien" of Vienna. In this concert, Beethoven himself participated in the performance as a piano soloist. It was the last time he actually performed his own works.
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The "Pastoral Symphony" and other Ludwig van Beethoven works released in 1808 helped improve their creator's reputation and contributed to a conflict between musical patrons in 1809. Beethoven had spent most of his musical career in Vienna and financially depended on the patronage of the city's upper class. Some of his works earned him considerable rewards, but his income was far from steady. In January, 1809 he received an offer of permanent employment by Jérôme Bonaparte, King of Westphalia (1784-1860, reigned 1807-13). His patrons in Vienna, led by Archduke Rudolf of Austria (1788-1831), counteroffered a permanent contract and an annual payment of 4,000 florins. Beethoven's financial prospects at the time were the best of his career, and he was able to secure a decent contract with his Viennese patrons.
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The "Pastoral Symphony" was the most controversial segment of this film when it was released and still has its detractors. The decision to combine Ludwig van Beethoven's music with images and characters from Greco-Roman mythology was itself considered peculiar, but it was the depiction of the myths and general mood of the segment that was deemed inappropriate. It was considered too comical, too cute and too kitschy to take seriously.
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The "Pastoral Symphony" makes this film one of two Disney animated feature films based on Greco-Roman mythology. The other is Hercules (1997). The two even share some characters.
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The central figure of the "Pastoral Symphony" segment is Bacchus, as most of the other characters gather to celebrate his arrival. There would hardly be a plot without him.
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Bacchus, the deity depicted in the "Pastoral Symphony", uses the Roman name for the Greek god Dionysus. Under the name Dionysus, the same character appears in a minor role in Hercules (1997) and in a major role in a few episodes of the spin-off television series Hercules (1998).
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While this film was probably among the earliest depictions of the god Dionysus/Bacchus in film, the god was previously adapted to theatrical plays. This already started in antiquity, with ancient plays where the god was one of the main characters. Several Dionysus-themed works failed to survive to the modern era. The two most prominent depictions to survive are the tragedy "The Bacchae" (405 BC) by Euripides and the comedy "The Frogs" (405 BC) by Aristophanes, celebrated in antiquity and still popular in the modern world.
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Part of the large cast of the "Pastoral Symphony" segment is based on ancient depictions of the companions of Dionysus/Bacchus. He was strongly associated with depictions of groups of centaurs, satyrs, and sileni. Centaurs are prominently featured in the segment.
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The Centaurettes featured in the "Pastoral Symphony" segment are considered a peculiar innovation, as female centaurs are not featured in ancient myths. Consequently, they were also a rare theme in art. However, the Disney idea has its own origins. Disney concept artist Albert Hurter (1883-1942) was seeking images of centaurs to use as references of Fantasia. He found rare images of female centaurs in the works of German artist Franz Stuck (1863-1928). Stuck specialized in works inspired by mythology but interpreted it in unique ways. Some of his ideas were adapted by Hurter.
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Ken Anderson (1909-93) based some of his background designs for the "Pastoral Symphony" on the painting "Isle of the Dead" by Arnold Böcklin (1827-1901).
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The donkey of Dionysus/Bacchus in the "Pastoral Sumphony" segment has a name. The Disney staff named him Jacchus. Jacchus' name is Bacchus' name with a "J" replacing the "B". It also sounds similar to the insult/technical term for a donkey "Jackass."
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The Disney staff named the female centaurs Centaurettes for lack of a more established term. However, there are previously established ancient terms for female centaurs, deriving from their rare appearances in ancient works. They are Greek "Kentaurides" and Latin "Centaurides".
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Various criticisms of the depiction of the Centaurettes in this film are aimed at the very idea of a group of feminine and beautiful hybrid creatures. However, the Disney staff likely drew the idea from an established tradition about the beauty of the Kentaurides. Kentaurides were depicted in Greek and Roman mosaics from the Hellenistic era onwards, and their human upper part was always depicted as feminine and attractive. In literature, Ovid described the beautiful kentauris Hylonome and Philostratus of Lemnos (c. 190-230 AD) proclaimed, "How beautiful the Centaurides are".
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Despite her reputation as a racist character and Disney's attempts to de-emphasize her, Sunflower the African Centaurette (featured in the film) has gained a considerable fan following on the Internet. She is also featured prominently in fan art. While her design from the 1940s is considered dated, several artists and fan artists have created images where she is redesigned according to more modern conceptions of African (and African-American) girls.
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The character Sunflower is apparently named after the flower she wears on her hair. Her name derives from the genus Helianthus (sunflower). The scientific name for this flower genus derives from the Greek terms "Helios" (Sun), and "anthos" (flower). There are about 70 known species of flowers in this genus.
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Unlike the other Centaurettes who have the lower bodies of horses, Sunflower has a lower body resembling a smaller species of equine: the donkey. There are various theories why, including that this was chosen to emphasize her younger age and lower social status than the other Centaurettes. An analysis of the film by Prof. Kheli R. Willets has instead suggested that the donkey was chosen to emphasize the character's African origins. The scientific name of the domesticated donkey is "Equus africanus asinus" and derives from the descent of the species from an African ancestor.
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The "Pastoral Symphony" segment features winged humanoids resembling plump babies. Their role in helping the Centaurs and Centaurettes pair up indicates that they are cupids. Alternatively called "Amores" and "Erotes", they appeared in Greco-Roman art as multiple manifestations of the god variously called "Eros", "Cupid", and "Amor". Like their template, they were depicted as winged boys or beardless young men, and personified love and sexual desire. Depictions of cupids have been popular in Western art since the Renaissance.
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The unnamed black centaurettes with the bodies of zebras seem to be more more exotic in design than Sunflower and Otika and do not really resemble then-contemporary depictions of African-American women or children. Various commentaries on the film suggest that the zebra design was chosen to indicate native African origin, since all three known zebra species are native to Africa. A popular theory (that has appeared in several sources) is that the two centaurettes are Nubians. Nubians are a dark-skinned African ethnic group native to Sudan and Egypt, and have been active since the time of Ancient Egypt.
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In 1998 the American Film Institute released a list called the "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies", choosing the 100 best American feature films. "Fantasia" made the list and was ranked 58th. The AFI's criteria for inclusion and ranking were that a film had to have a feature length and a narrative format, to be an American production or co-production, to have received critical recognition, to have won major awards, to have gained popularity and commercial success over the years, to have gained historical significance through innovations, and to have had a cultural impact on American society.
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The Disney company owns a character called "Fantasia". She is a Marvel comic book character introduced in 1989 and has also appeared under the name "Phantasma". She is a sorceress and her name might have been chosen in reference to the "Sorcerer's Apprentice". Like most Marvel characters, Fantasia is currently owned by Disney.
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The centaurette Melinda has a rather modern name, since the name "Melinda" was probably coined in the 18th century. The element "Mel-" of the name, however, is much older in origin. The name was partly patterned after the similar-sounding "Melanie" and "Melissa". Melanie derives from the Greek term "melas" ("black", "dark"). Melissa is an ancient Greek name meaning "honey bee" and derives from the Greek term "meli" ("honey").
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While the "Pastoral Symphony" segment depicts multiple male Centaurs, only Brudus receives much screen time and appears in multiple scenes. He is also the only one of them who has received an individual name.
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Despite their relative obscurity, the couple of Melinda and Brudus have been described as the romantic leads of the "Pastoral Symphony" and "Fantasia" as a whole. They have been compared to other romantic couples from Disney animated feature films, figure prominently in "Fantasia"-related fan art, and have at times appeared on Disney products.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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The studio filmed professional dancers Joyce Coles and Marjorie Belcher wearing ballet skirts that resembled shapes of blossoms that were to sit above water for Dance of the Flutes. An Arabian dancer was also brought in to study the movements for the goldfish in Arab Dance.
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The small, feathered, soaring creature seen during the "Rite of Spring" segment is usually said to be the ancient bird-relative Archaeopteryx. However, it actually looks exactly the same as the so-called Tetrapteryx (also known as Proavis), a purely hypothetical bird ancestor which many scientists of the time thought to have existed. It was thought to have had four wings, would have looked much like a lizard with feathers, and paleontologists used it to show what a transition between reptiles and birds would have looked like according to the scientific understandings of the mid 20th century. Although Tetrapteryx didn't exist in real life, there actually were true four-winged bird-relatives in dinosaur times, such as the Microraptor, first described in 2000.
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To gain a better understanding of the history of the planet the studio received guidance from Roy Chapman Andrews, the director of the American Museum of Natural History, English biologist Julian Huxley, paleontologist Barnum Brown, and astronomer Edwin Hubble. Animators studied comets and nebulae at the Mount Wilson Observatory, and observed a herd of iguanas and a baby alligator that were brought into the studio. The camera was kept at a low position throughout the segment to heighten the immensity of the dinosaurs.
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Over one thousand artists and technicians were used in the making of the film, which features more than 500 animated characters.
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Segments were colour-keyed scene by scene so the colours in a single shot would harmonize between proceeding and following ones. Before a segment's narrative pattern was complete, an overall colour scheme was designed to the general mood of the music, and patterned to correspond with the development of the subject matter. The studio's character model department would also sculpt three-dimensional clay models so the animators could view their subject from all angles.
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For inspiration on the routines in Dance of the Hours, animators studied real life ballet performers including Marge Champion and Irina Baronova.
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Animator John Hench was assigned to work on the "Dance of the Hours" segment, but resisted as he knew little about ballet. Walt Disney then gave Hench season tickets to the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo with backstage access so he could learn more about it.
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According to R. D. Feild's The Art of Walt Disney, in order to draw Hyacinth, the hippo prima ballerina, a woman weighing over 200 pounds (91 kg) was brought onto the live-action stage and her movements were recorded by cameramen, recording the "least quiver of her flesh, noticing those parts of her anatomy that were subjected to the greatest stress and strain".
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The West Coast premiere at the Carthay Circle Theatre was a grand affair, attracting some 5000 people, including Shirley Temple, Cecil B. DeMille, Forrest Tucker, James Cagney, Robert Montgomery, James Murphy, Edgar Bergen, and many other notables in the film industry.
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From the beginning of its development, Walt Disney expressed the greater importance of music in Fantasia compared to his past work: "In our ordinary stuff, our music is always under action, but on this ... we're supposed to be picturing this music-not the music fitting our story." Disney had hoped that the film would bring classical music to people that, including himself, had "walked out on this kind of stuff."
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The Mickey Mouse Sorcerer's Apprentice was originally conceived as a Silly Symphony short. As the short's production costs spiraled, the decision was made to make it part of a compendium movie comprised of other shorts, all set to classical music.
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Not a success when first released as the outbreak of war in Europe cut off about 40% of its potential revenue.
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Leopold Stokowski was so intrigued by Walt Disney's vision for setting classical music to a Mickey Mouse short that he agreed to conduct the orchestra for free. As the film ballooned into something more ambitious, Stokowski signed an 18 month contract with the studio for the film's production.
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Igor Stravinsky's "The Firebird" was originally considered for the dinosaur Rite of Spring segment. This was later incorporated into Fantasia 2000 (1999).
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A UCLA athlete provided visual live action reference for Mickey Mouse running around trying to stop numerous brooms.
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For The Pastoral Symphony segment, the Hays Office insisted that the female centaurs had garlands covering their bare breasts.
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RKO was originally supposed to release the film but balked at the idea of 2 hour plus classical music feature. Disney released the film themselves through a select number of roadshow theaters. RKO would later take on the film for its re-releasing but usually with mono sound, forming part of a double feature with the Western Valley of the Sun (1942).
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The film opened at the Broadway Theater in New York City. Tickets were charged at a higher rate because it was such a prestige production (and to cover some of the costs of converting the theater to stereophonic sound). Ticket demand was so high that extra telephone operators had to hired to cope with the number of calls. The film ran for a record-breaking 57 weeks.
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Igor Stravinsky visited the Disney Studios during production and was shown sketches of the segment that would be set to his music. Stravinsky was very impressed with the ambition of the project.
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"The Rite of Spring" segment would have been of great interest to 1940 audiences as the discovery of dinosaur bones and the theories of their evolution and demise were all recent developments.
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"The Rite of Spring" segment was actually shown in many schools for years as a way of educating children about evolution.
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While storms were not rare or innovative as a musical theme prior to the composition of the "Pastoral Symphony' (1808), Ludwig van Beethoven's version of the theme was an unusually violent and realistic depiction of the sounds of rain, lightning and thunder. A theory is that Beethoven was trying to outdo all previous depictions of the theme, specifically including a then-famous one in the oratorio "The Seasons" (1801) by Joseph Haydn (1732-1809).
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The "Pastoral Symphony" (1808) is considered a famous example of pictorial music, music telling a story and containing specific images to illustrate it. It is often considered among the best examples of the genre. It is also, however, one of Ludwig van Beethoven's rare experiments of this nature. While pictorial music was used in many works of his era and clearly had an audience, critics and intellectuals tended to dismiss it as lacking in seriousness, trivial in nature, ridiculous in its imitation of animal sounds, and (in the German-speaking world) too French in origin. Beethoven tended to avoid the genre in fear of his critical reputation suffering.
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The initial performance of the "Pastoral Symphony" (1808) received some favorable reviews, but the music is generally regarded to have been performed ineptly. Ludwig van Beethoven was promised that the work would be played by the professional orchestra employed by the Theater an der Wien. However, several members of this orchestra were unavailable, since the Theater had loaned them to a charity performance elsewhere. The remnants of the orchestra did not contain enough musicians to play all the organs, and amateurs had to be recruited. This resulted in a lack of cohesion in the orchestra and in the typical mistakes associated with amateurs.
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Bacchus is depicted in the "Pastoral Symphony" as a drunk figure who constantly drinks wine. This is a humorous depiction of the ancient deity's Dionysus/Bacchus association with wine. He was the god of the grape harvest, wine-making and wine. He was, however, also associated with other aspects of ancient life, including the patron deity of theatre.
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Dionysus/Bacchus, depicted in the "Pastoral Symphony", was the only major deity in classical mythology who had human ancestry. His father was the chief god Zeus/Jupiter. Various ancient writers attributed to him several different mothers, and gave different origin stories, but the most prominent version of his legend had it that his mother was the mortal woman Semele, Princess of Thebes. Through her, Dionysus/Bacchus descended from several mortal heroes, as well as various other gods.
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The ancient legends of Dionysus/Bacchus, featured in the "Pastoral Symphony", were many and often impossible to reconcile with each other. A few ancient writers theorized that there were multiple gods or deified mortals of the same name. For example, in "De Natura Deorum" ("On the Nature of the Gods") by Cicero (106-43 BC), there is the following passage: "We have a number of Dionysi. The first is the son of Jupiter and Proserpine; the second of Nile--he is the fabled slayer of Nysa. The father of the third is Cabirus; it is stated that he was king over Asia, and the Sabazia were instituted in his honour. The fourth is the son of Jupiter and Luna; the Orphic rites are believed to be celebrated in his honour. The fifth is the son of Nisus and Thyone, and is believed to have established the Trieterid festival."
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The depiction of Dionysus/Bacchus in the "Pastoral Symphony" segment does not really match the ancient depiction of the god in art and literature. The Disney artists chose to depict him as a clean-shaven, obese, and rather unattractive man. The god was a popular art and literature subject and had a few distinctive forms. One was an infant form, accompanied by adult figures. A second one was an adult male form with a long beard. A third was a beardless, youthful form with androgynous features. A fourth one, primarily appearing on coins, featured him with the horns of a ram or a bull.
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Among the ancient legends of Dionysus/Bacchus, featured in the "Pastoral Symphony", was his identification with other deities, often from non-Greek or Roman cultures. He was chiefly identified with the nature god Fufluns (worshipped by the Etruscans), the freedom god Liber (worshiped by the Latins and Romans), the mountain god Orotalt (worshiped by the Arabs), the resurrection god Osiris (worshiped by the Egyptians), the fertility god Priapus (worshiped by the Greek colonies in Anatolia), the horseman god Sabazios (worshiped by the Phrygians and Thracians), the vegetation god Tammuz (worshiped by the Semites)
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The specific origin of the cult of Dionysus/Bacchus, featured in the "Pastoral Symphony" segment, is unknown, but the Greek name of the god apparently precedes the Classical era. Writings in Linear B include the name in the form "di-wo-nu-so". Linear B was the written language of the Mycenaean Greeks and was in use from the 15th to the 12th century BC.
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The name "Dionysus" for the god Bacchus, featured in the "Pastoral Symphony" segment, likely derives from the name of his father. The name "Zeus" was rendered "Dios" in the genitive case and "Dio-" at the start of theophoric names. Similarly, fellow sons of Zeus Castor and Polydeuces/Pollux were collectively called Dioskouri/Dioscuri ( "Zeus' boys").
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The name "Dionysus" for the god Bacchus, featured in the "Pastoral Symphony" segment, had a disputed etymology in antiquity. A popular etymology derived the name from the mountain "Nysa", where the god was supposedly born and raised. However, ancient writers identified this mysterious mountain with locations in different countries, ranging from west in Libya (Africa) to east in India. It might not have existed at all. Another explanation was that the name derived from "nusa", an archaic Greek term for "tree". This etymology derives from the writings of philosopher Pherecydes of Syros (6th century BC). Modern writers have instead suggested that the name has an etymology from languages other than Greek. For example, some connect the name to the city Nesa, an Assyrian and Hittite center in Anatolia. The Hittites called their language "nesili" ("the language of Nesa").
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While the version of the god Dionysus/Bacchus depicted in the "Pastoral Symphony" is clearly a comical character, his reputation in the ancient world was fearsome. Several of his legends are effectively revenge stories, where the god is slighted in some way and then punishes his enemies in rather bloody ways. The most famous legend of this kind was that of Pentheus, King of Thebes. Pentheus was a maternal first cousin of Dionysus and a mortal, rather than a god. He wanted to prevent the spread of the disorderly cult of Dionysus in his kingdom and took measures against it. Dionysus reacted by turning Pentheus' mother Agave and her sisters into frenzied madwomen. Agave and the sisters, in their madness, perceived Pentheus as a wild animal, slayed him, and mutilated his corpse.
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The god Dionysus/Bacchus, depicted in the "Pastoral Symphony" segment, was in antiquity the central figure of the Dionysian Mysteries. They were one of the mystery religions of the Greco-Roman world, restricted to initiates willing to keep its secrets. It was somewhat more open than its contemporaries, accepting among its initiates those marginalized by society: women, slaves and foreigners. The Mysteries and the cult of the god possibly originated in Mycenaean Greece and survived at least until the 5th century AD, when they were suppressed by Christian Romans.
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Some aspects of the depiction of the god Dionysus/Bacchus in the "Pastoral Symphony" segment have been suggested to be based on a different mythological figure. Bacchus is depicted in the segment as a as an overweight, happily drunk man, transported by a donkey. This does not resemble the ancient god, but does somewhat resemble his companion Silenus. Silenus was depicted in the ancient world as bald, fat, perpetually drunk and carried by a donkey. Silenus often appeared as a character in satyr play and comedies.
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Since the "Pastoral Symphony" segment depicts a celebration in honor of Dionysus/Bacchus, some sources suggest that it was Disney's own depiction of the Bacchanalia. The Bacchanalia was the Roman festival to the god, and by reputation used to involve sexual rituals. The term survives in the modern world, its current meaning being uninhibited or drunken revelry.
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While the Disney staff likely named the donkey Jacchus as a joke, the name is not original. Jacchus is an alternative spelling of Iacchus, an epithet of Dionysus/Bacchus. Iacchus was the name used by the god when associated with the Eleusinian Mysteries.
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The donkey Jacchus in the "Pastoral Sumphony", coincidentally shares its name with a real animal species. Callithrix jacchus is the taxonomic Latin name of the common marmoset, a type of monkey. Carl Linnaeus (1707-78) coined the name in 1758, naming the monkey after Jacchus/Iacchus. The Disney character happens to be named after the same mythological figure.
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The donkey character Jacchus has a single horn on his head. This probably serves as a parody of the unicorn concept. The unicorn is typically depicted as a horse with a horn, and the Disney staff probably chose a donkey because it is often considered more comical. Many descriptions of the character simply classify him as a "donkey unicorn".
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The unicorn characters of the "Pastoral Symphony" are somewhat out of place in a world based on Greco-Roman mythology. Unicorns are not found in Greek mythology but rather in the accounts of natural history. A number of Greek writers of natural history were convinced of the reality of unicorns, which they located in India, a distant and fabulous realm for them. The Greek and Roman concept of the unicorn can be traced directly back to a passage of "Indica" by Ctesias (late 5th century BC-early 4th century BC). Ctesias was a Greek physician who spent time in Persia, and recorded stories about the history, people and wildlife of Asia. He was an influential writer who introduced many concepts previously unknown to the Greeks, but his historical accuracy has always been questioned. Some of the surviving accounts traced back to him seem accurate or plausible, but others are outlandish and fairy tale-like. Modern historians consider that Ctesias' work contained material ranging from accurate historical accounts, legendary material and contemporary tall tales to actual fictional works.
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While the film depicts ancient unicorns as horned horses and donkeys, the ancient concept of the unicorn often differed. Pliny the Elder (23 -79), for example, described the unicorn as having "the head of the stag, the feet of the elephant, and the tail of the boar".
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The "Pastoral Symphony" segment includes the unicorn in its collection of mythological creatures. In this case, the animal is thought to have started as an ancient misconception for a real animal. The ancient term for the unicorn was "monoceros" ("one-horned", "single-horned") and Aelian mentions "cartazonos" as a synonym. Etymologically this is considered connected to "kargadan", a Persian term for the rhinoceros. Descriptions of the horn of the rhinoceros probably were at the basis of the unicorn legend.
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While the donkey-unicorn Jacchus in the "Pastoral Symphony" segment is considered a humorous Disney creation, it is closer to the original description of unicorns than most modern versions. The surviving description of the unicorn by Ctesias, the writer who first described the creature, starts as following: "In India there are wild asses as large as horses, or even larger. Their body is white, their head dark red, their eyes bluish, and they have a horn in their forehead about a cubit in length." The wild ass or onager is the feral relative of the donkey and somewhat resembles it. Ctesias' information about unicorn-wild asses was later repeated by Philostratus (c. 170-250) and Claudius Aelianus (c. 175-235).
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While the ancient Greco-Roman concept of the unicorn (as depicted in the film) only dates back to the 5th century BC, there are earlier unicorn-like depictions in art. Ancient seals from the Indus Valley Civilization (2600-1900 BC) depict animals with horse-like bodies and a single horn. While this has led some scholars to add two more millennia to the age of the unicorn legend, there is an alternative explanation. The seals are suggested to be profile depictions of the Aurochs, a large type of wild ox with two horns. The other side of the animal and the second horn were simply not depicted in art.
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One reason that the unicorn (as depicted in the film) is well-known to modern audiences is for its supposed depiction in the Bible. The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament from the 3rd century BC, was the first to include the animal. Its example was followed by the Vulgate (a 4th-century Latin translation) and the King James Version (a 17th-century English translation). All three versions are still popular in the modern world and still include the unicorn. But the Hebrew term that they translated as unicorn was Re'em, which appears 9 times in the Hebrew version of the Bible. Modern archaeologists have concluded that this was the Hebrew term for the Aurochs, a large type of wild ox with two horns. In art it was simply presented in profile, with only one horn visible.
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The "Pastoral Symphony" segment features Centaurs living in a fantasy world loosely based on Greco-Roman mythology. The ancient writers actually considered the Centaurs to have been a historical extinct tribe and assigned them habitation in well-known historical regions of Greece. They were said to have lived in the region of Magnesia and Mount Pelion in Thessaly, the Foloi oak forest in Elis, and the Malean peninsula in southern Laconia.
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The "Pastoral Symphony" segment introduces the Centaurs with no origin story for them. Ancient writers actually preserved various accounts for the birth of half-human, half-horse creatures. Most are obscure and only mentioned by a single writer, but two versions were more notable and appeared in multiple sources. In the first and better known version, they are said to be descendants of Ixion, a figure primarily known for sacrilegious acts. The mortal Ixion, King of the Lapiths reportedly lusted after the goddess Hera and attempted to mate with her. He was instead tricked into mating with a creature who took her form, called Nephele ("Cloud"). The result was the birth of the first Centaurs. In the second version they are said to be descendants of an eponymous progenitor called Centaurus, sometimes said to be a son of Ixion. Centaurus reportedly became an outcast and was deprived of human contact. He found mates for himself among the Magnesian mares, resulting in the birth of the first Centaurs.
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The "Pastoral Symphony" segment features Centaurs and Centaurettes as gentle creatures primarily concerned with romance. This contrasts with most of their rather violent depictions in ancient legends. With a few notable exceptions (like the wise Chiron), the Centaurs were described as stereotypical barbarians: wild, untamed, warlike, with a taste for strong wine that led them into violent frenzies, and with a habit to attack and abduct women from other tribes.
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For a film that prominently depicts Centaurs, "Fantasia" is somewhat peculiar in that it does not adapt or allude to their most prominent role in ancient legends: their war (or wars) with their kinsmen and rivals, the Lapiths. The war was one of the major conflicts of classical mythology and features in many written works, with either details of the war itself or giving a character background as one of its veterans. The first mentions of it were in the epics "Illiad" and "Odyssey" attributed to Homer (8th century BC). Subsequent accounts of the war figure in the works of Hesiod Hesiod (8th or 7th century BC), Theognis of Megara (6th century BC), Pindar (c. 522-443 BC), Apollonius of Rhodes (3rd century BC), 'Diodorus Siculus' (1st century BC), Virgil (70 -19 BC), Strabo (64 BC-24 AD), Propertius (c. 50-15 BC), Ovid (43 BC-18 AD), Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-65 AD), Statius (c. 45-96), Gaius Valerius Flaccus (d. 90), 'Pseudo-Apollodorus' (1st or 2d century), Plutarch (c. 46-120), Pausanias (c. 110-180), Claudius Aelianus (c. 175-235), 'Ptolemaeus Chennus' / 'Ptolemy Hephaestion' (2nd century) and Pseudo-Hyginus (3rd century). Some of these writers have influenced later and modern depictions of the Centaurs.
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The "Pastoral Symphony" contains scenes of courting and romance between handsome young Centaurs and attractive young Centaurettes. There is a precursor for this idea and for the visuals of the couples. While it is unclear whether it served as a direct source for the Disney staff, there is an ancient work that features romance between Centaurs. The narrative poem "Metamorphoses" by Ovid (43 BC-18 AD) describes the romance between centaur Cyllarus and centauris Hylonome. Cyllarus is described as an extremely handsome young Centaur: "His beard was just beginning, a golden beard, and golden tresses fell down on his shoulders reaching to his flanks. High-mettled grace shone in his face; his neck, chest, shoulders, hands and every manly part seemed like a sculptor's much-praised masterpiece. Unblemished too his equine shape, nor less fine than his man's. With horse's head and neck he's make fit mount for Castor, so high stood his chest-muscles, so rideable his back. Jet black he was, the whole of him, save that his tail was white and legs were milk-white too." His romantic partner Hylonome is also described as a beautiful female centaur: "In the high woods there was none comelier of all the centaur-girls, and she alone by love and love's sweet words and winning ways held Cyllarus, yes, and the care she took to look her best (so far as that may be with limbs like that). She combed her glossy hair, and twined her curls in turn with rosemary or violets or roses, and sometimes she wore a pure white lily."
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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.
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"Fantasia" has a fan following among fans of anthropomorphic characters and furries. In 2000 the community introduced a new award ceremony (retroactively named the Ursa Major Awards in 2001) and asked fans to vote for the best 20th-century works featuring anthropomorphic characters. "Fantasia" won the award for Best Animated Feature Film.
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The character Brudus shares his name with a figure from Scottish traditional history. Brudus is the name of a leader of the Picts who was reportedly at war with a king named Alpín. He supposedly won the final battle of the war by tricking his opponents into believing that the Pictish cavalrymen outnumbered them. He actually had enough horses but not enough cavalrymen to mount them. So he disguised non-combatants such as camp followers and women into soldiers, then had them mount the horses and ride into battle. Their sheer numbers intimated the enemy. and caused them to panic. The story was popular until the 19th century, though its historicity is in doubt. There have been various efforts to identify the king Alpín involved. Prior to the unification of Scotland, there were several kingdoms in its area and there were several kings of them who had the name Alpín.
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The god Eros/Cupid/Amor, manifested in the "Pastoral Symphony" segment as multiple cupids, received various contradictory origins by ancient writers. One prominent version had him as a primordial deity, one of the first beings of creation. In the depictions of this version in literature, Eros either had no parents at all or was presented as a son of Khaos/Chaos (""emptiness", "vast void", "chasm", "abyss"), Nyx/Nox ("night") alone, or Nyx/Nox and Erebos/Erebus ("darkness", "shadow"). Another version had him as a son of the goddess Aphrodite/Venus, either with no father or fathered by her lover Ares/Mars. A third version had him as a son of Ouranos/Uranus ("sky"), either with no mother or mothered by his consort Gaia/Gaea ("Earth"). Alcaeus of Mytilene presented a fourth version of his origin, which had Eros as a son of Zephyros/Zephyrus ("West Wind") and Iris ("Rainbow"). In this case both parents are depicted in art as winged humanoids. Plato introduced a fifth version of his origin, which had Eros as son of Poros/Porus ("resource", "abundance") and Penia/Penae ("deficiency", "poverty"). Later writer Pausanias had him as a son of Eileithyia/Ilithyia, the goddess of childbirth. These versions were the better known ones, though there were more obscure ones circulating in antiquity.
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The god Eros/Cupid/Amor, manifested in the "Pastoral Symhony" segment as multiple cupids, had a somewhat peripheral role in Greco-Roman mythology. Origin stories of Eros were popular--he appeared as a matchmaker in various stories of gods, goddesses and heroes--but Eros rarely appeared as a protagonist in any story. The major exception was the romance novel "Cupid and Psyche" (2nd century) by Apuleius (c. 124-170), where he is the male lead. In this novel Cupid himself falls in love with the mortal woman Psyche ("soul") and seeks to marry her. Psyche herself has to undergo several tasks to prove herself worthy of marrying a god and in the end achieves divinity. It was very popular in antiquity and has influenced several later depictions of the god in art and literature.
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The term "Centaur" (as used in the film) has a somewhat disputed meaning. The English term derives from Latin "Centaurus" and Greek "Kentauros". The etymology of the Greek term has been uncertain since antiquity. There are theories that it partly derives from the Greek term "tauros" ("bull"). The tern "ken-" of the word is more unclear, though some theories connect it to the verb "kenteo" ("to prick", "to sting", "to hurt") and the noun "kentron" ("center", "midpoint", "focus", "peak", "tip", "needle"). These theories suggest that the term "kentauros" originally meant "the one who pricks bulls", "the one who hurts bulls", or "slayer of bulls". This could derive from ancient practices of cattle herding (needling the animals to control them), hunting of wild bulls, or local forms of bull-fighting (as practiced in Minoan Crete). Other modern theories have suggested a non-Greek origin for the term "Kentauros" and have connected it to possible cognates in other ancient languages.
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