Disney animators set pictures to Western classical music as Leopold Stokowski conducts the Philadelphia Orchestra. "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" features Mickey Mouse as an aspiring magician who oversteps his limits. "The Rite of Spring" tells the story of evolution, from single-celled animals to the death of the dinosaurs. "Dance of the Hours" is a comic ballet performed by ostriches, hippos, elephants, and alligators. "Night on Bald Mountain" and "Ave Maria" set the forces of darkness and light against each other as a devilish revel is interrupted by the coming of a new day.Written by
David Thiel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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. See more »
In the full-length introduction to the "Nutcracker Suite", heard only in the roadshow version of "Fantasia", Deems Taylor states that this music is from a longer ballet called "The Nutcracker", which "nobody performs it anymore". The full-length "Nutcracker" had not been performed in the U.S. yet in 1940, but in both Russia and England it had been staged in 1934, and had already been staged in Russia twice before that, in 1892 and 1919. However, although the "Nutcracker Suite" was immensely popular even in 1940, the full-length ballet was still a long way off from becoming the annual phenomenon it now is in the United States. See more »
How do you do? Uh, my name is Deems Taylor, and it's my very pleasant duty to welcome you here on behalf of Walt Disney, Leopold Stokowski, and all the other artists and musicians whose combined talents went into the creation of this new form of entertainment, "Fantasia". What you're going to see are the designs and pictures and stories that music inspired in the minds and imaginations of a group of artists. In other words, these are not going to be the interpretations of trained ...
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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 »
In February 1956, the film was re-released in widescreen SuperScope, with the film image cropped to conform to the anamorphic widescreen ratio. The stereophonic "Fantasound" tracks were transferred to a magnetic tape source by RCA (across high-fidelity telephone lines, as Disney's only operating Fantasound system could not be moved from the Disney lot). The audio tracks were then re-mixed into four-track optical sound. See more »
I first remember hearing about this movie when I was very little, and ever since I first watched it on VHS, it has always been one of the many examples of my favorite movies of all time. This is so unique, because unlike a typical Disney movie, in this movie we do not hear any dialog from the characters, and all of the music is instrumental (except for "Ave Maria" at the end). The film is divided into eight sequences, each of them being introduced by a guy named Deems Taylor, who was a very well-known music critique.
The eight segments are as follows:
1.) "Tocatta & Fugue in D-minor" composed by Johanne Sebastian Bach. This segment consists of shots of the Philadelphia Orchestra and their conductor Leopold Stokowski with a lot of cool shadow and color effects during the first three minutes, then we see a lot of shapes and random objects that Taylor would suggest to us might pop into our brains when listening to the music.
2.) "The Nutcracker Suite" composed by Tchaikovsky. In this part of the movie, we listen to excerpts of the famous ballet suite, and we see various fairies, flowers, fish and other nature-related creatures.
3.) Everyone's favorite "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" starring Sorcerer Mickey and Yen Sid (the sorcerer whose name is "Disney" spelled backwards). This is also the only segment to be seen again in this film's sequel, "Fantasia/2000" 60 years later, and in it the apprentice brings to life a magical broomstick to try to fill a cauldron with water, and the spell goes wrong so the apprentice gets reprimanded. This is then followed by Mickey greeting conductor Stokowski.
4.) "Rite of Spring" composed by Igor Stravinsky. This segment takes place billions and billions of years ago with the coming of the dinosaurs, where we see the creation of Earth in the beginning of time, and are later introduced to all of the different dinosaurs including the tyrannosaurus rex, which become extinct in the end of the segment.
5.) "Intermission/Meet the Soundtrack". At this point in the film, Deems Taylor introduces this string thingamajigger called the "Soundtrack" that he asks to make a lot of sounds resembling various instrument sounds.
6.) "Pastoral Symphony No. 6" composed by Beethoven. This segment is about a day in the countryside, and in it we see a lot of Greek mythology creatures like unicorns, satyrs, centaurs and centaurettes, cupids, Bacchus, Zeus, Iris, Apollo and Diana.
7.) "Dance of the Hours". This is where we see dancing ostriches, alligators, elephants and hippos. Each part of the piece suggests different hours of the day, and it all ends with a triumphant finale where the dancing hippo takes center stage.
8.) A combination of two pieces that are utterly different in mood and tone. They are "Night on Bald Mountain" in which a bat villain named Chernabog has Satan's evil spirits dance furiously until the coming of the sacred dawn, and then Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria" which is the one and only part of the whole film in which we hear lyrics sung, and then the movie ends.
I simply must say that not only is this film one of my all time favorite animated masterpieces, but it is also an example of a big highlight of the 1940's in cinematic history, all because of the ways it is so unique and special. In addition to this masterpiece, I also think "The Wizard of Oz", "Gone with the Wind", "Citizen Kane" and "Casablanca" are main icons of cinematic successes. I definitely think this should have been the first animated movie to be nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award instead of "Beauty and the Beast".
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