1940; Not Rated; 120 Minutes
Featuring Deems Taylor, Leopold Stokowski, Mickey Mouse,
and the Philadelphia Orchestra
Produced by Walt
Disney; Directed by James Algar, Samuel Armstrong,
Ford Beebe, Norman Ferguson, Jim Handley, T. Hee, Wilfred
Jackson, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts and Ben Sharpsteen;
Screenwritten by Joe Grant, Dick Huemer, Lee Blair,
Elmer Plummer, Phil Dike, Sylvia Moberly-Holland, Norman
Wright, Albert Heath, Bianca Majolie, Graham Heid, Perce
Pearce, Carl Fallberg, William Martin, Leo Thiele, Robert
Sterner, John McLeish, Otto Englander, Webb Smith, Erdman
Penner, Joseph Sabo, Bill Peet, Campbell Grant, Arthur Heinemann
and Phil Dike
by DAVID KEYES
may have been aware that "Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs"
would succeed long before the project was released, but
he had probably had no idea of what to expect from the audience
when they saw "Fantasia," a film of which his studio calls
'the grand experiment.' Released in 1940, the film was hardly
a financial success, but was instantly acclaimed a movie
masterpiece, with it's brave tendencies of weaving animation
and music together until the spirited grandeur of art and
classic music was the ultimate combined result.
the movie did not succeed, it has since returned to theaters
numerous times, not to mention finding release on home video,
and experiencing a quick and healthy recovery financially-speaking.
In the years to come, Walt's great experiment will become
his nephew's, since as we speak, Mr. Roy Disney is under
supervision of the studio's next large-scale production
titled "Fantasia 2000," which will continue on the legacy
and beauty that Walt's original vision endured.
"Fantasia" is not simply a cinematic masterpiece. It is,
more or less, a journey through portals and dimensions that
can only exist within the parallel universes of our minds.
And yet, there it is, on screen and alive. The film embodies
Walt's creativity, and deepest enriched imaginations. As
we sit and listen to classic music and envision places and
stories that take place in them, we often get bright and
beautiful pictures, and that is what "Fantasia" brings us;
remarkable reflections of our sub-concious visions within
the music itself.
movie, which was probably a gamble for Disney and his studios
during it's making, is split up into numerous scenes, combining
the talented musical score of our planet's greatest composers
and the imaginative and limitless animation of Disney's
animators. The film opens with Johan Sebastian Bach's "Tocatta
And Fugue In D Minor," assembling the music into what Disney
himself believes what we would see if we were listening
to this music in a concert hall. Strange shapes appear,
objects and colors mix into each other, and several other
numerous things become present while this music plays. As
it ends, we feel we have not seen a film sequence at all,
but actually created it within our minds.
next sequence is even more hard to believe. Tchaikovky's
"The Nutcracker Suite" is filmed with magical and nostalgic
pageantry, as each segment of the suite is portrayed with
actual moving characters rather than just masses of color
like Bach's segment was. "The Sugarplum Fairies," for example,
is envisioned with (you guessed it) sugar plum fairies,
who light up the dark night with their magic, which they
spread on leaves, flowers, and spider webs, silhouetting
the elegance of the setting.
afterwards, the film gets more serious when it presents
the segments of "Rite Of Spring" and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice."
"Rite Of Spring" is a burlesque reflection of what occurred
on Earth long before man came into the picture. It shows
us the creation of our planet, the rapid evolution, and
eventually, the poverty which killed the gigantic dinosaurs.
In "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," we see Mickey Mouse in his
most memorable guise, assisting a magician in the beginning,
but turning his back on him and then attempting to use his
magic as his own. The attempt backfires, of course, and
this ballet of music and animation marks itself the most
memorable of the picture.
next few sequences also demonstrate the artistic beauty
of some composers enduring pieces of music, as well as some
of Walt Disney's most hard-core animation techniques. The
last half of the film contains music by Schubert and Beethoven,
of course, but the best of all these last segments is "A
Night On Bald Mountain," which would suggest the possibility
of evil sneaking around the obstacles of good to people
who probably do not believe in it. The character in this
creepy and surreal sequence, Chernobog, sits atop a mountain
at night and plays with the souls of the dead, who are tortured
in front of his diabolical smile with fire, torment, and
many other deathly obstacles. Even Disney himself might
consider this scene to be one of the scariest things ever
captured in film animation.
sequence ends with good triumphing, set to the tune of Schubert's
lyrical masterpiece "Ave Maria," which is so beautiful to
listen to that watching it in "Fantasia" almost brings tears
of joy to your eyes.
what a joy the movie is. It works on every level, from combining
music and art to displaying energy and ambition. Disney
himself might not consider "Fantasia" to be one of his favorite
pieces of film making, but to me, and to most of the other
audiences, it is an episodic masterpiece. Calling it one
of his greatest achievements is an understatement.
1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.