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Fantasia (1940)

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A collection of animated interpretations of great works of Western classical music.


James Algar (uncredited), Samuel Armstrong (uncredited) | 10 more credits »


Joe Grant (story direction), Dick Huemer (story direction) | 23 more credits »
4,686 ( 181)
8 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Deems Taylor Deems Taylor ... Self - Narrative Introductions
Leopold Stokowski ... Self - Conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra
The Philadelphia Orchestra The Philadelphia Orchestra ... Themselves


Disney animators set pictures to Western classical music as Leopold Stokowski conducts the Philadelphia Orchestra. "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" features Mickey Mouse as an aspiring magician who oversteps his limits. "The Rite of Spring" tells the story of evolution, from single-celled animals to the death of the dinosaurs. "Dance of the Hours" is a comic ballet performed by ostriches, hippos, elephants, and alligators. "Night on Bald Mountain" and "Ave Maria" set the forces of darkness and light against each other as a devilish revel is interrupted by the coming of a new day. Written by David Thiel <d-thiel@uiuc.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The ultimate in sight and sound See more »


G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


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. See more »


The character Chernobog, the demon in the sequence "A Night on Bald Mountain", switches from no nipples on his chest to having nipples numerous times. See more »


[first lines]
Deems Taylor: How do you do? Uh, my name is Deems Taylor, and it's my very pleasant duty to welcome you here on behalf of Walt Disney, Leopold Stokowski, and all the other artists and musicians whose combined talents went into the creation of this new form of entertainment, "Fantasia". What you're going to see are the designs and pictures and stories that music inspired in the minds and imaginations of a group of artists. In other words, these are not going to be the interpretations of trained ...
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Crazy Credits

This is the second Walt Disney feature-length film ("Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" was the first) on which the credit "Walt Disney presents" never appears. It appeared on all the other feature-length films that Disney personally produced. See more »

Alternate Versions

The 1982 re-release featured an entirely re-recorded soundtrack conducted by Irwin Kostal; the first-ever digitally recorded soundtrack for a motion picture. Deems Taylor's narration was replaced in this version by Hugh Douglas. Kostal's soundtrack was reused when the film was then re-released in 1985, but Taylor's narration was dubbed over yet again, this time by Tim Matheson. The 1982/1985 version has never been released on video, although the "Nutcracker Suite" segment (with the Kostel re-recording) has been used on a Disney compilation Christmas TV special on The Disney Channel. See more »


Referenced in Leonard Bernstein: 'The Rite of Spring' in Rehearsal (1987) See more »


A Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria
"A Night on Bald Mountain" (1867) Composed by Modest Mussorgsky (as Modeste Moussorgsky)
"Ave Maria, Op. 52 No. 6" (1825) Composed by Franz Schubert
Orchestrated by Leopold Stokowski (uncredited)
Both Works and Transitional Material Arranged by Leopold Stokowski (uncredited)
Played by The Philadelphia Orchestra
Special Lyrics for "Ave Maria" by Rachel Field
Sung in English by the Westminster Choir of Westminster Choir College with soprano soloist Julietta Novis
Choral Director: Charles Henderson
Conducted by Leopold Stokowski
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User Reviews

Now there are three kinds of music on this program … Fantasia
5 April 2009 | by jaredmobarakSee all my reviews

Our screening of the original uncut 1940 Roadshow, 35mm Disney Studio Archive Print, (yes, it came from the "vault"), of Fantasia was introduced by Disney historian and author John Culhane. He relayed a story about when he spoke with Walt in 1951 and mentioned how great he thought this mix of sound and images was. Walt responded by saying, "but it hasn't made any money yet". And that was ten years after its release. He did say that Disney still held strong to his convictions that it was what he needed to make at that time. In 1940, he believed that showing a visceral experience like Fantasia was just what the medium called for; it was the natural evolution of animation in his mind. You have to respect that, no matter how much money he lost after its four-year creation process, employing thousands of animators, it was all about the craft. When you look at the state of the genre today, with about ten films a year from multiple studios, many of them drivel, it is definitely a treat to go back seventy years and see what actual hands drew for the world to see. Frame by frame, note by note, you really can't deny the brilliance of this film, even if you probably will fall asleep at least once each viewing.

I remember the first time I had seen Fantasia, I was young and it was one of the few Disney films I had yet to experience. I hated it. It was the most boring thing I'd ever seen. Even when Mickey Mouse finally showed face, with that wizard hat I had seen in so many pictures, I could care less. Truthfully, I might not even have finished it, (when intermission came halfway through, I told my friend that I couldn't even remember what else there was, all my memories had played in Act 1). But I kept thinking about the film each year later. As I grew older and started pursuing a career in the arts, it nagged at me that I didn't appreciate the feat. Then Fantasia 2000 came out and I began to see what I missed in the original so many years before. So, when it was announced that Fantasia was coming to Buffalo's premier theatre Shea's, it was an invite that was tough to pass up.

Admittedly, I almost nodded off a few times during the two-hour duration. But that is not meant to detract from the wonder this film instills, not at all. From the narration amongst the Philadelphia Orchestra by Deems Taylor, in partial silhouette, complete with a prologue to each song, (whether they be the kind of music that tells a definite story, the kind that has no specific plot, or that which exists simply for its own sake), to the image of conductor Leopold Stokowski standing alone on his platform, to the animation on screen, working from the music, telling its story, you will be transported to a different world. It is not for everyone—especially little children this day and age with no attention spans, (many parents left with their offspring early on)—but if you're willing to let it wash over you, and enjoy the works of Bach, Tchaikovsky, etc., you won't be disappointed. It's a concert film above all else; you're just watching animation rather than the musicians and their instruments.

And you cannot deny the artistry of it all, oftentimes hearkening to future films Disney would be making. You can see the precursors to Tinkerbell in the naked fairies flying around as well as the donkey used that same year in Pinocchio. The abstract illustrations are intriguing, but my favorites are definitely the ones steeped in some biomorphic form. I absolutely love the "Nutcracker Suite" vignette, find the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" to be wonderful, and really get blown away by some of the finale, the combo of "Night On Bald Mountain" and "Ave Maria". In that final sequence you get to see some amazing artwork in the devilish, winged creature as well as the architectural forms during the "light" moments at the end. At times you see frames with immense amounts of gradation and depth, moments where the stark flat colors usually seen, meld into still frames gorgeously painted as though works of art, not something to be seen for a fraction of a second. I'm not sure exactly what causes this, but those freeze-frames are my favorite part of the film.

So, is Fantasia a great film? I don't really know how to answer that question. I can appreciate it for what it set out to do, and deem it a complete success in that regard, but would I rather watch it then the likes of Disney classics like Alice in Wonderland, Beauty and the Beast, or Robin Hood? No. That said, though, I would recommend it to anyone out there with an open mind and ability to see past the commonplace and mainstream. Some may say you can only truly enjoy your experience if you are on drugs, that the creators themselves were at the time, but that is a disservice. Fantasia is a world that needs to envelop you and become your sole visual focal point for two hours. If you are willing to put in the time, Disney's epic will not lead you astray.

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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

19 September 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Walt Disney's Fantasia See more »


Box Office


$2,280,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$980,798, 10 February 1985

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (2000 roadshow restoration) | (1942 cut) | (1991 VHS release) | (1946 cut)

Sound Mix:

3 Channel Stereo (RCA Sound System) (as Fantasound)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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