Saturday, January 22, 2011

Disn-A-Thon: Fantasia (1940)

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. [imdb]

There isn’t really all that much to say about Fantasia that can’t be summed up as follows:

Fantasia was the most innovative and bold movie ever made.

There, I said it.

For his third full-length animated film, Disney decided to make a segment-based movie complete with full orchestral score and practically no dialogue. Essentially a feature-length version of their Silly Symphonies, Fantasia had no plot and no storyline. The only truly real character was Mickey Mouse, who appeared in only one segment, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

For the musical arrangement, Disney enlisted famed conductor Leopold Stokowski. I’d say this was a smart move, considering the music is what had to carry the movie. Many people, myself included, regard Fantasia as the spark of their interest in classical music. Covering many famous composers such as Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, it’s really just one big showcase of classical music and the young animation department at Disney.

The special features go really in depth on the entire development of this movie. In fact, there’s three separate commentaries for the movie alone. If you’re interested in factoids and little random bits of trivia, I would definitely recommend listening to all three. They really help you understand just how important this movie is to the history of motion pictures.