This review might take a little while, as this isn't just your average, old school Disney animated film. What we have here instead is a classical musical that lasts just over two hours, and it speaks to our inner artists in a way that allows us to really appreciate what it is to be a little cultured... even if there are racist moments within it.
The idea is to have a bunch of pieces of classical music blend together with animated, visual interpretations of what the music was trying to say (to a degree). It's hosted by Mast of Ceremonies, American composer, Deems Taylor, and he takes us through the film, introducing each piece as we go. However, I do find that he introduces each piece by telling us a little too much about what we're about to see. There's not much left to the imagination because of this, but it doesn't make the pieces any less enjoyable either. Really, this is pretty timeless stuff - all save for one piece in particular, but we'll get to that. For this review, I'm breaking it into pieces, as I see it being the only really fair way to tackle it.
Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach: An enjoyable, abstract piece of work that combines silhouettes of the orchestra with animation reflecting the instruments and the music they play. It's simple, and it sets the mood for everything we're about to see. 4/5
The Nutcracker Suite by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Very little to do with the Christmas classic tune, this piece covers songs 'Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy', 'Chinese Dance', 'Arabian Dance', 'Russian Dance', 'Dance of the Flutes' and 'Waltz of the Flowers', each featuring a variety of animated dances, depicting the changing of the seasons. 3/5
The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Paul Dukas: When people think of 'Fantasia', their minds will automatically leap to one of tow pieces. This one is the first, which depicts Mickey Mouse as Sorcerer Yen Sid's apprentice. He attempts to use magic to make a clean-up job easier, but it gets completely out of hand. I still find this one to be the most entertaining of the pieces, personally. 5/5
Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky: Through selected pieces of the ballet score, this one depicts Earth's beginnings. Another one I find very entertaining, it goes from Earth's formation through to the extinction of the dinosaurs. This one might be considered to be a little controversial for people with a creationism history, but seeing as I personally lean towards science, it really does it for me, as this stuff fascinates me. 4/5
Intermission/Soundtrack: 'Fantasia' is very much represented as a concert show, as opposed to an actual movie. As such, it is complete with a slight intermission, a fun jam session, and a humorous introduction to the film's soundtrack, in which we see a line imitating various instruments with waves. Much like a real intermission, I can take or leave this part, and it won't be included in my ratings. It's sole purpose is to be filler.
The Pastoral Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven: This is the big one that really stirred up the controversy. The piece portrays tidbits of Greek/Roman culture, giving us a variety of mythological figures which include one particular racially insensitive centaur named Sunflower. Just Google it, and you'll see how it's an unfortunate fly in the ointment of an otherwise beautiful film, let alone the piece itself. 2/5
Dance of the Hours by Amilcare Ponchielli: A fun piece that depicts the stages of the 24 hour day. Morning is represented by Madame Upanova and her ostriches; afternoon is represented by Hyacinth Hippo and her servants; evening is represented by Elephanchine and her bubble-blowing elephant troupe; night is represented by Ben Ali Gator and his troop of alligators. 3/5
Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky / Ave Maria by Franz Schubert: Going back to that I said about 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice', this is the other piece that tends to pop into people's heads when 'Fantasia' is brought up. also, much like 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice', this is a personal favorite bit of the film. 'Night on Bald Mountain' shows us midnight where a demon named Chernabog (or for all intents and purposes, Satan). he summons evil, restless spirits from their graves to essentially party for a while until 'Ave Maria' comes along, vanquishing the darkness, and showing us the dawn of a new day. 5/5
To close it off, it can be said with all honesty that this isn't just something I'd be able to throw on whenever I felt like it. It's very much something one needs to be in the mood for, especially as a full 2 hours plus. That may be fairly average movie running time, but not for Disney animation. With that said, however, this does add a touch of culture and class to Disney's library (again, taking Sunflower out of the equation). Pieces like 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' and 'Night on Bald Mountain' have since become far better known due to this film, and are both great instrumental tunes to listen to around Halloween. For the most part, it has aged nicely, despite its glaring problems.
5/8/2020 06:09:13 pm
though the movie didn't get a perfect score from you, I am still happy that you liked the movie and cited the factors why you loved it. I have watched it too and there were loopholes in the story. though we shouldn't be doing that because this is a movie for kids, I cannot help but to be technical on what I've seen that can be improved. But still, I need to commend those people who made an effort for this one. I am sure that it wasn't easy making this film but they were able to pull it off!
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