Friday, April 06, 2012

Fantasia (1940)

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
If you, like me, have never seen Fantasia then you might be in for a shock. Rather than containing a soppy Disney story - or even a story at all - it is a celebration of classical music with the background of Walt's animations.

It is split into 5 programs- including the headlining Sorcerer's Apprentice - each with an animation backed by a different famous musical piece and introduced by the master of ceremonies (Deems Taylor).

By today's standards, Fantastia would still be a bit of a risk by Disney. There is very little story in the film - albeit a small one in each of the programs - and instead focuses solely on the audience's ability to imagine and react to the moving picture show. This is all laid out in Deems Taylor's introduction so if you don't like it, switch off now.

Initially, it feels like watching Windows Media Player's visualiser, which aims at creating a picture that reacts with the music. It is very successful at this and at parts it felt as though it was me moving the image to suit the music. I was watching this film with my girlfriend and her family and we all sat in deathly silence before the nonsensical animation - almost in a trance by what Disney had created.

Eventually, following the Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky, Mickey Mouse appears on screen (which, if I'm honest, is what I was expecting in the first place) and plays out the infamous Sorcerer's Apprentice sketch. This was an animation I had seen before, but putting it in Fantasia gave the piece a whole different look and feel as I was far more focused on reaction of the image to the sound.

Another program in Fantasia has the story of evolution so I thought I'd shoehorn in a quick reference to Cirque du Soleil's fantastic show Totem which I was fortunate enough to see a couple of months ago. Like Totem, Fantasia has very little obvious scientific preaching behind it (although, when you think about it, this is what it's about!) but instead performs it in a fantastic interpretative demonstration.

Only after the film has ended did I sit back and wonder what on earth it was all about. There is very little point to Fantasia - in animation form anyway - but it's success comes from merging together artists from different backgrounds which is really what all cartoons do anyway. In Fantasia though, you'll appreciate it far more.

Different, but entrancing.


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5 comments:

  1. Nice review. I remember renting this from the video club (when I was just a kid) and wondering, like you said, what the point was. It was so unlike the other disney cartoons I was already familiar with. But for some reason, I couldn't stop watching.

    I especially loved The Sorcerer's Apprentice and felt the whole thing was very much enchanting, which, now that I think about it, I guess must have been the point after all; to leave the viewer completely enchanted.

    It would be interesting watching this again and seeing if I can come away with more than I did way back then.

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  2. Finally!! I have seen this one :)
    I really like Fantasia as well, even if it was a bit scary as a child. In particular, the magicians apprentice bit.

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  3. Great post and a lot went into the research. I do like Fantasia.
    dreamweaver

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  4. Yeah, I never had any interest in watching Fantasia...but I do like classical music, so maybe I'll rent it the next time I have to babysit...then, it will make for a win-win situation for me and the kid that I have to watch :)

    ~Nicole
    Blog: The Madlab Post
    @MadlabPost on Twitter

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  5. I did see this movie a long time ago, I love classical music...maybe that's why??
    Hope you're enjoying the challenge,
    Monica, Older Mommy Still Yummy

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