Alex created artwork for each piece and he will add some commentary for each number.
Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach. This is the first impression of the film, and the abstract animation really does its work. That said, the real height of this piece is the last shot, with Leopold Stokowski's conducting synced to the animation.
Nutcracker Suite by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. At this point, the film winds up lulling most people to sleep (including Riley and Katie). However, the renditions of various creatures (including a group of various flowers, and a short dance with several mushrooms) are worth watching.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Paul Dukas. Believe it or not, this is the short that started Fantasia! Rising costs for the short's production led to the Fantasia series of shorts being produced. All of the animation is spot on to the music, and the whole thing stands the test of time. This is the piece most people think of when you mention Fantasia and it certainly is the one that has kept the film in Disney's culture. Mickey's sorcerer hat is still a popular item today - just look through any Disney gift shop!
Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky. Speaking of time, here's one piece that stutters a bit in modern viewings. The science was sound at the time of release, though, so you can't fault it too much. Also, the whole thing is some of the most realistic animation in Disney.
Intermission/Meet the Soundtrack. At this point, the film breaks off, then returns with a series of sound gags. This is cute, and between the both of these, all prospective audiences should be awake for the rest of the film. (Actually walking around at the start of the intermission is recommended.)
The Pastoral Symphony (The 6th) by Ludwig van Beethoven. Here, the whole thing shifts back to generating a scene. Disney really nails the party and thunderstorm, replicating one of Beethoven's apprentice's description. The segment in general shows good Greek focus, and we'll see more of this inspiration later.
Dance of the Hours by Amilcare Ponchielli. Hello, Muddah. Hello, Faddah... Seriously, this is one of my favorite sequences animated. The general tone is humorous, and the whole thing could very well stand on it's own.
Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky. That's a strange looking letter A! Anyway, this segment features some of the most nightmarish imagery, and is also paired with intense music. This could honestly be described only as "someone thinking dark thoughts very clearly."
Ave Maria by Franz Schubert. Therefore, it makes sense that the counterpoint to Bald Mountain is more unfocused, with scenery and camera taking the stage. The shots seen here are spiritually charged, reaffirming faith's triumph. Honestly, this may be our last shot of Walt as a spiritual man.
But what a finale. The final shot suggests all the peace and comfort of religion, without being overly complex. That's an achievement any artist would struggle with, pulled off with ease by Walt's staff.
Katie's drowsy thoughts:
I struggle to stay awake during this film and I usually am out by the time the Nutcracker Suite starts up. I feel somewhat guilty over that because I really respect the artistic beauty of the music paired with the animation. I have watched all the segments, but never in the same sitting.
I think Fantasia was a groundbreaking film that was probably quite ahead of it's time. In fact, Fantasia was most popular during the sixties and seventies when people reportedly enjoyed with with some illegal substances to enhance viewing. People seem to either love this film or hate it. I wish I could love it, but it's just not really my thing. I do appreciate the great artistic endeavor that Walt and his team took on with this though. I'm only giving it 2/10 Mickey heads which I know will upset some fans.
Second Opinion With Alex Nelson:
This is the most realized art film Walt made, and it's also a landmark for the studio, with attempts made at early surround sound. Best appreciated by those with a ready focus, this is Walt's early work in music and cartoons brought to it's apex.
7/10 Mickey Heads for sheer focus. While not as stimulating to an early crowd, this is the great film that stood for what Disney could do. (We won't see much of that for the moment, as we are entering the territory of package films. But the best is yet to come, I promise!)
Riley slept through almost the entire showing of Fantasia and decided to just bow out of this review. She gives it a lot of zzzzzzzzs. LOL!
As Alex enjoys Fantasia quite a bit, and Katie is a fan of Sorcerer Mickey, we have a few toys around relating to this film. One of our favorite memories is when Alex's Grandpa placed a Sorcerer Mickey stuffed toy in our room in the Disneyland Hotel back in 1999 to greet Alex when we arrived (there was a Minnie Mouse for Riley). The cool thing is that Alex still has this Mickey today.
Note the Mushu pajamas as well. This was a big Disney phase in our lives!
Trying on the sorcerer's hat in the Disney gift shop during that same 1999 trip. Also, wearing Pixar merchandise. We drink the Kool-aid when we are there!
Fantasia has a remarkable history and there are many interesting facts about Walt's vision for the idea. Here are a few cool links to check out: