FANTASIA



A Concert Feature , (working title)
Walt Disney Productions, technicolor,
126 mins., Nov. 1940,
cost $2,280,000
($400,000 for the music alone) ;
principal animators Ward Kimball, James Algar;
music conducted by Leopold Stokowski.
Distributed by Disney himself because of the unprecedented nature of the film.


You are looking at the film because it is an attempt to interpret music in representaional narrative form - and has a section using abstract imagery. It cost $40,000 to install the special sound systems in each of the 12 chosen special cinemas. It lost money on the first showing but has been regularly re-released, with particular success in the 1970's as an experience to accompany drug taking in the cinema.


Fantasia, "a free development of a given theme".

Animated responses to the following music


Bach, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor


Tchaikovsky, Nutcracker Suite (excerpt)


Dukas, The Sorcerer's Apprentice


Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring


Beethoven, Sixth Symphony (the Pastoral)


Ponchinelli, The Dance of the Hours


Moussorgsky, Night on a Bare Mountain

Schubert, Ave Maria.


Originally intended as a `come-back' for Mickey Mouse after the success of the full length animated feature Snow White, the Mickey as Apprentice was added to with other visualisations of classical music under Stokowski's supervision. The film shows all the accomplishments and weaknesses of the Disney system ;

ANTI

weak characterisation of many figures,

a certain repetition in order disturbed only to return to tranquillity,

lots of water reflections.

Saccharine sentimentality with a tendency to almost Arayan ideals of physical beauty.

So many cherub botties.

PRO


highly original visual effects,

bold attempt at the creation of animated abstract images .

The Bach sequence was originally prepared by Oscar Fischinger, the avant garde animator who left when Disney began to impose his own ideas.

Brilliant approximations of natural phenomena, eg the wave sequences.

The abstract representation of the sound track impressive.

Excellent standards of satire in The Dance of the Hours sequence.

Experimentation while the company was $5 million in debt after the profits for Snow White were used up.


Jonathan Rosenbaum in Roud beneath sees parallells between idealisations in the films of Leni Riefenstahl for Hitler, and Disney in Fantasia. Disney had been the only film person to receive her when she came to Hollywood the Thirties.


"Personally I hate that pretentious crap ; I prefer Gershwin" Ward Kimball animator, of the music used in the film.

 

BOOKLIST


Holliss and Sibley, The Disney Studio Story , Octopus London 1988


Leonard Mosley, Disney's World , Stein and Day NY 1985


D.Peary, Cult Movies , Vermilion London 1982


Richard Roud (ed) Cinema, a Critical Dictionary , Viking Ny 1980 (Vol 1 under Disney)


S.Hochman, From Quasimodo to Scarlett O"Hara , A National Board of Review Anthology, Ungar NY 1982