#3 Fantasia

#3 Fantasia

Part movie, part concert, all together 2+ hours long!

It only takes until their third movie for Disney to start innovating their formula! After two feature films following the standard one story plot, Disney releases Fantasia, a series of animated sequences paired with orchestral music performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra (shout out to Philly #GoCats \\//). This is the first of the 58 that I haven’t seen, and as a lover of both music and animation, I’m excited!

According to Wikipedia, the film began as just the Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment and was an attempt to make a comeback for Mickey Mouse. Imagine that! 1) Mickey Mouse needing a comeback because he faded in popularity. 2) A studio spearheading a comeback effort for a fictional character like he’s some aging actor who’s run out of his money from the 90’s. Then, Walt ran into Leopold Stokowski (the Philly Orchestra conductor), who loved the idea and said he would conduct music for free! Why Leo? Get that Disney ca$h. As production on the Apprentice segment went along, Walt eventually decided to try something new and expand the film to a feature with 8 animated segments (though it feels like many more) and a mix of classical pieces, plus the new one written for Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Fantasia opened as a “theatrical roadshow” throughout the country and struggled to make a profit because, you know, there was some more important things going on in the world in 1940. However, it WAS celebrated by viewers and critics who saw it as a masterpiece and revolutionary. Apparently it’s biggest critics were ~classical music aficionados~which, like, no surprise there but also, just sit back and enjoy the music and pretty pictures guys. It’s Hollywood premiere was attended by a ton of famous people, like Shirley Temple and James Cagney. And, the film has been rereleased in theaters many times so it has since made quite the profit – 23rd highest grossing film in the US (adjusted for inflation) kinda profit. So, hopefully Leo Stoks got that Disney ca$h after all!

Like I said, the film is over 2 hours! So, if you’re going to watch along, definitely get ready to settle in, get your popcorn, get your drink, get cozy. Also, my notes are just inherently longer than usual, so get some snacks for this, too!

My thoughts during Fantasia:

  • Ooh NOT a storybook, it’s opening with a curtain parting and an orchestra, this is different and interesting
  • Watching every single member of this orchestra walk on stage and set up, not so interesting
  • I did 7 years of concert band I don’t need to see a bunch of music nerds prep anymore thanks Walt
  • I wonder what the children of 1940 thought of Fantasia. Like, it’s over 2 hours and it’s all classical music and the sequences are long and there’s no dialogue
  • Oh! We’re getting spoken to!
  • This is an intriguing concept – having animators listen to classic music and come up with sequences and stories for each piece
  • The narrator is explaining too much, making the creativity too technical
  • The conductor silhouette is super cool, especially since this opening song sounds so ominous
  • BTW it’s the Toccata and Fugue by Bach? I’m not going to try to write down all of these songs/pieces because they have long names, just a heads up
  • So far it’s just shadows of the orchestra playing, where is the animation? We’re 7 minutes in
  • This sequence is pretty but a little plain? The animation is simple, just clouds and some lines and shapes here and there. I think it would have been better to start with something a bit more exciting. I’d already be going to get a popcorn refill
  • I suppose animation in this form was so new that people must have found it interesting and entertaining
  • Oh, the narrator is back
  • Tchaicovsky hated the nutcracker suite 😦 I wonder why when it’s so pretty and also that stinks for him that it was his most famous piece. It’s like Doyle hating Sherlock Holmes, (which Disney also adapts)
  • Wow! This guy said that The Nutcracker wasn’t sucessful and “nobody performs it nowadays” What?? There was a time when the nutcracker wasn’t popular? I wonder what changed because I feel like it’s super well known and performed quite a bit now
  • Did Barbie and the Nutcracker have a major impact on the cultural zeitgeist? Mayhaps!
  • Oooh, now we’re getting to a full animated sequence with fairies and flowers and this is very pretty!!
  • This water sequence is gorgeous and the water moves at certain points is cool
  • OOH things just picked up FAST i jumped
  • We got dancing….radishes (?) y’all
  • Actually, I think they’re just flowers
  • Now there is a winter sequence that is LOVELY with ice skating fairies and then snowflakes
  • Okay, we’re done with the nutcracker suite
  • Now this is interesting, a piece of music that was inspired by a story first! A story that goes back 2000 years wow
  • “A legend about a sorcerer who had an apprentice” I KNOW WHAT THIS IS!!
  • I’m so excited I’ve never seen the full sorcerers apprentice sequence before!
  • No, the Nic Cage movie definitely doesn’t count
  • I love that the sorcerer’s name is Yensid. They were really just like “hmm what cool and interesting name should we give our legendary sorcerer???” “let’s spell the company name backwards” “sounds like a winner!”
  • So, does one only have magic with the hat? Does that mean anyone can be a sorcerer? Or are there other necessary skills needed? Do you need magic to control the hat, like a wand in the Harry Potter world?
  • I love this music!!!
  • And honestly, all these decades later I’d say it’s just as iconic as any of these other classical pieces, which is pretty cool
  • Did…did Mickey just astral project?
  • Cymbal crashes with the crash of the waves? Poetic cinema
  • Omg Mickey just axed the broom to death off screen, so violent they couldn’t even show it other than shadow
  • A whole army of brooms has risen from the corpse of the og broom! and they are back with vengeance
  • and by vengeance i mean a desire to keep pouring out buckets of water
  • Uh oh…Sorcerer is home…
  • Aww Mickey is talking to the conductor!!
  • Oh my goodness the windchimes just fell over onto the windchime guy!! Was that planned? I’m assuming it was, but how random? Why?
  • I feel I should be over an hour in but it’s only 40 minutes
  • Now we’re getting a science lesson in evolution, which GOOD evolution is real
  • There were “bullies and gangsters among them” omg if i could do photoshop i would make a pic of a t-rex in a pinstripe suit and fedora
  • ~space~
  • This is really showing…all of evolution huh…lots of volcanoes and fire
  • I think this is taking just about as long as the actual evolutionary process
  • UM they just showed a jelly fish eating a slug fish thing??? Kinda disturbing
  • Oh, now we got dinosaurs
  • Anyone remember Land Before Time? We got some longnecks out here, i saw a spike
  • Ooh these pterodactyls look malicious
  • They are snatching up squid and fish this is-
  • Omg a carnivorous fish monster jumped up and snatched a fish that fell from a pterodactyl didn’t that EXACT thing happen in jurassic park but with a person?!!
Jurassic World: Dominion looks great!
  • This is scaring me, did children enjoy this??
  • Uh oh all the dinos are looking one way
  • REPTAR!!
  • No!!! A stegosaraus is trying to waddle away but he’s not fast enough :((( go stegosaurus go!!
  • This fight is vicious, it’s a little much for me to watch
  • The T Rex is biting his neck omg this is a lot
  • NOOOOOOOO my man stego is down :((((
  • RIP pour one out
  • I’m really sad man. Like i thought disney was whimsical and happy. Everyone lives happily ever after except this poor dude i guess
  • Pinocchio got to live but the poor stegosaurus gets eaten? Where’s HIS blue fairy? Guess she hasn’t evolved yet smh
  • Time jump and all the dinos live in a world of sand
  • Beware of global warming kids!
  • Wow a zoom in on the skeleton of a dinosaur just in case you didn’t get the picture that they all are dying
  • This is dark
  • 15 minute intermission? Okay, I’ve got to be at least an hour and like 20 minutes in at this point..
  • An hour FIVE im-
  • They are literally showing everyone just pack up and wander off stage we have time for this?!!
  • I may not have a full intermission cuz streaming but i’m going to make tea. Feel free to take an intermission from this blog post i guess! We all could use a break I think
  • I’m back with my tea that was fast right? 
  • Welp, watching everyone come on and tune and settle in, take your time folks not like we’re here for TWO HOURS

Watching Fantasia be like:

  • The narrator is introducing a very important person who turns out to be…the soundtrack?
  • Hard to describe this sequence but they’re basically going through each section of the orchestra and the soundtrack (a line) then has shapes flow out from it based on the sound….
  • We did something similar in band when we played at elementary schools to show kids the differences in sound and tune
  • Bass drum represent!!
  • Now we’re going into a fantasy sequence! Cool!
  • Centaurs and…”their girlfriends centaurettes” I don’t think that’s what they’re called??
  • Aww baby pegasuses…pegasi??
  • Makes me think of Hercules and how i already can’t wait to get to the 90’s even though it’s literally 1940
  • Umm these mermaids (?) have no shells is this appropriate for kids???
  • Oh they’re centaurs, but still, cover up ladies please, this is a family show
  • The god of wine has arrived riding a donkey and totally wasted relatable 
  • Uh oh the sky is dark and there is a big shadow figure??
  • Oh it’s Zeus! And all the centaurs are fleeing, relatable!!
  • Why is Zeus attacking Dionysus??
  • That’s right, I know Greek Gods (thank you Percy Jackson)
  • Is it “just cuz” because i feel like that is in character for Zeus…
  • Aww the baby pegasi!!! They’re having trouble flying in the storm!
  • The wine has been spilled oh nooooo!!!
  • And Dionysus is playing in it of course
  • Everything is peaceful and the baby pegasi are flying off into the rainbow love that for them
  • Ooh i just got the music in this segment it’s the camp song and also was used in a k-9 advantix commercial like 15 years ago
  • Who decided that ostrich’s were the best ballet animals??
  • I love this hippo she’s so happy and graceful and dances so well
  • Aww she’s sleeping
  • Okay the elephants are also dancing nicely but it’s making me think of the dancing elephants in Dumbo and i’m not okay with that
  • Ooh now we got…alligators? Crocodiles? Swooping in capes??
  • Is this some evil gator cult? Does this segment take place in Florida??
  • Why are they bothering the poor hippo? Leave her alone she’s trying to sleep!
  • HA! She jumped on the gator! Don’t mess with her!!!
  • Oh, now they’re dancing together. That’s nice, a quick end to this rivalry
  • Now he’s chasing her, but she looks kinda happy about it?
  • So the other gators are just chilling around the perimeter ready to raise their capes to block her when she gets near, weird hype-men
  • The other hippos are back! 
  • Oh but the other gators are attacking now
  • The elephants and ostrich’s are back too, probably thinking “leave me out of this”
  • Half the time the animals are playing, the other half the gators are carrying the other animals
  • Are we all just having a laugh here?
  • It ended with them posing so I guess???
  • Oh no I don’t want to see creatures of evil :((((
  • 2 spooky 4 me!
  • My mom has a Disney villains poster and it’s really the only merch I’ve ever seen chernabog used in? And honestly, i don’t think he deserves to be there, he’s in this one movie for like 10 minutes and you’re gonna put him in a pic with Maleficent? Nah
  • Okay, this DEFINITELY had to scare poor children in the theater
  • I love this soft landscape scene MUCH better
  • Ave Maria is so so so beautiful
  • And then it just ends….
  • I mean, i don’t want it to be longer but we had so much info from the narrator guy it’s weird there’s no conclusion…we don’t have to watch the orchestra walk off stage again? Okay
  • Bye Fantasia, see ya in 60 years for round 2 

So, THAT was Fantasia! I did enjoy certain parts. The music and some of the sequences were gorgeous! They just went on a bit too long for my liking, though I understand it’s because that’s how long the songs are. Maybe if they had 6 or 5 sequences instead of 8. As a viewer, it’s hard for me to follow without dialogue for long periods of time, but it is a really interesting concept and I can appreciate the revolutionary aspect of the film. Some parts were a bit dark (how did poor Shirley hold up watching the dinosaurs fight and the demons dance :/ ???) and I think it’s interesting that Disney wasn’t afraid to appeal to adults after establishing themselves as such a kids brand. It’s definitely a stand out film among all the 58 (well, not counting it’s…sequel? in 2000) and that is certainly impressive.

Next week, we go back to the standard format with Dumbo!

How do YOU feel about Fantasia? Do you like it’s unique concept and execution? Or do you need some dialogue up in here? Drop a comment in and lmk.

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