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 <email@example.com>
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. 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 »
How do you do? Uh, my name is Deems Taylor, and it's my very pleasant duty to welcome you here on behalf of Walt Disney, Leopold Stokowski, and all the other artists and musicians whose combined talents went into the creation of this new form of entertainment, "Fantasia". What you're going to see are the designs and pictures and stories that music inspired in the minds and imaginations of a group of artists. In other words, these are not going to be the interpretations of trained ...
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The roadshow cut shows the title card at the intermission rather than the beginning, as on most prints. See more »
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 »
Fantasia was to be the crowning achievement of Walt Disney Studios, their magnum opus, a work of art that finally convinced the people that animated films could be more than "mere" children's entertainment. Unfortunately, it was too much too soon. People went in expecting children's entertainment - after all, that's what Disney was known for - and instead were treated to high art. Nothing wrong with that, but you need to expect it first. And thus, Fantasia flopped financially, and what was meant to be a continuing series of films, remained just one until the turn of the century.
But oh what a film it is. Music by the best classical composers ever lived, performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, hosted by Deems Taylor, featuring some the finest animated segments Disney had ever done. It's a stone cold classic, was from the very first moment, and it's a shame it didn't do so well. Luckily it has gone down in history as one of Disney's finest and will be watched and appreciated for centuries to come.
As for the individual segments, they're not of equal quality, though they are all very good in their own ways.
The opening segment, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, is not one of my personal favourites, but it works as a good opening intro to the idea behind Fantasia and is pretty to look at in its own way. It hasn't aged as well as some of the other segments, but it does its job more than adequately.
Nutcracker Suite, on the other hand, is fantastic. Beautiful images, perfectly accompanied by one of the most recognizable pieces of music there is. After seeing this segment once, it's hard not to see fairies and seasons dancing around whenever you hear the piece.
And then there's The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Everyone knows this one and has most probably seen it, even if they haven't seen the whole film. It's the segment with the most story and is one of the strongest Mickey Mouse shorts ever made. Grandeur, funny and even a bit threatening, it's probably the film's strongest moment.
Rite of Spring is another one with a story, this time about the history of our small blue orb floating in the space. It's intriguing to watch, but once again the animation shows a bit of its age and it's perhaps even a little bit too ambitious for its running length. Not the strongest segment, but once again very good nonetheless.
The Pastoral Symphony and Dance of the Hours, the next two segment, are to me very similar and while they're both fine, I cannot admit to liking them all that much. They're mostly just general gallivanting and while that's fine and fits the music, it can become a bit boring. The Pastoral Symphony is also the segments that has aged the least gracefully with some really rough character designs.
Luckily we have Night on Bald Mountain and Awe Maria to close the film. And they are awe-inspiring. The devil on his lone mountain top is one of the scariest images Disney has ever produced and the rest of the segment is equally haunting, eerie and threatening. Which is why the following tranquility and quietness of Awe Maria works so well and allows you to drift over the finish line with a smile on your face and peace in your heart.
Fantasia is not a perfect film, but it's still one of the finest pieces of art I've ever seen and a perfect introduction to animated films meant for adults. As a child I found it slightly boring. As an adult I'm in awe.
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