My Old Addiction

Movie Reviews By Bil Antoniou

Fantasia (1940)

JAMES ALGAR, SAMUEL ARMSTRONG, FORD BEEBE JR., NORMAN FERGUSON, JIM HANDLEY, T. HEE, WILFRED JACKSON, HAMILTON LUSKE, BILL ROBERTS, PAUL SATTERFIELD, BEN SHARPSTEEN

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBB.  USA, 1940.  Walt Disney Productions.  Screen direction by , , story development by , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , story development & research by , , , .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , Ben Sharpsteen.  Production Design by , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .  Academy Awards 1941.  

One of the pinnacle achievements of the Walt Disney studio is this milestone in animation and its relationship with classical music. After producing a series of ‘Silly Symphonies’ that involved short pieces of pre-existing music set to a fun, animated story, Disney finally realized his dream to create a feature-length film that incorporated famous classical pieces set to varying styles of abstract or narrative animation. The result was a financial and critical failure, but years later stands as a masterpiece of artistic success that is unparalleled in the animation world (even including its sequel Fantasia 2000). The pieces involved here include Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral Symphony’ set in the Elysian Fields of mythological ancient Greece, Dukas’ ‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ with Mickey Mouse as protagonist (and whose images are the most famous), and a stunning animated recounting of the theory of evolution set to Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’ (the only composer who was still alive at the time that the film was made), among others.  conducts the orchestra and appears as himself in the short live-action scenes in the film (the very first live-action shots to be filmed at Walt Disney studios), and the film is narrated by Deems Taylor, whose full narration sequences have recently been restored. The film was re-released by the studio many times over the last sixty years, including a version in the early eighties that was produced with a brand new score conducted by Irwin Kostal, but the original soundtrack has since been replaced on more recent issues.

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