Fantasia (1940)

G   |    |  Animation, Family, Fantasy


Fantasia (1940) Poster

A collection of animated interpretations of great works of Western classical music.


7.8/10
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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


23 July 1999 | Spleen
10
| Fantastic
There cannot be one verdict on "Fantasia". There must be eight: one for each of the seven segments, and an eighth for the film as a whole - for, varied though the seven segments are, they undeniably belong together. And, alas, space does not permit me to lay out all eight verdicts. I shall have to confine myself to details representative of the whole. At any rate, I shall try.

We learn the modus operandi of "Fantasia", the linking theme, in the second segment - an abridged version of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" suite. (Missing are the overture and the march.) Tchaikovsky's ballet involves anthropomorphising inanimate things, plus the odd tiny animal. So does Disney's "Nutcracker". But Disney has thrown out the particular details. The Chinese Dance is danced by mushrooms (who look, but are not, Chinese); the Arabian Dance by "Arabian" goldfish; the Russian dance by "Russian" thistles and orchids. Sometimes it goes further: "Waltz of the Flowers" shows two entire changes of seasons, with leaves, fairies, seed pods, seeds, snowflakes - everything but flowers. But in ignoring the letter of the instructions Disney is perfectly true to the spirit. Indeed he is more true to the spirit than the original ballet - for, let's face it: stage ballet is a degenerate and over-formalised art, which makes some of the world's most exciting music dull as wallpaper. Disney's amazing images express Tchaikovsky's sense of motion more than earthbound dancers ever could. This, one feels, is the kind of thing ballet music was TRULY designed for. The same goes to a lesser extent for the other two pieces of ballet music on the program.

This basic device - ignoring explicit instructions, but remaining true to the spirit - is carried through into every segment. (Some segments are better than others, but none can be called a failure.) Dukas's "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" has been turned into a Mickey Mouse cartoon - but it's the best Mickey Mouse cartoon ever made; and we realise that the story of the Sorcerer's Apprentice is really the archetype that all of the best Mickey Mouse cartoons had been reaching towards, all along. The Pastoral Symphony adheres to Beethoven's program but moves everything from the woods of Central Europe to a dreamland from classical mythology. (The second movement - the section with the courting centaurs - is a failure. For once the spirit as well as the letter of Beethoven is ignored. Unfortunately some critics cannot see beyond this movement to the superb interpretations that flank it on either side.)

I doubt that so much genuine creative work has gone into a film, before or since - even if you don't count the contributions made by the composers. What's my favourite film? I really don't know. But if you tell me that I must sit in a large dark cinema for two hours; and ask me what I would like to occupy my eyes and ears over those two hours, I would answer, without hesitation, Fantasia.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The West Coast premiere at the Carthay Circle Theatre was a grand affair, attracting some 5000 people, including Shirley Temple, Cecil B. DeMille, Forrest Tucker, James Cagney, Robert Montgomery, James Murphy, Edgar Bergen, and many other notables in the film industry.


Quotes

Deems Taylor: How do you do? Uh, my name is Deems Taylor, and it's my very pleasant duty to welcome you here on behalf of Walt Disney, Leopold Stokowski, and all the other artists and musicians whose combined talents went into the creation of this new form of ...


Goofs

When the Pegasus foals are jumping in the water, the blue one jumps in, becomes the orange one, then the blue one surfaces and the black one, who is shown diving afterwards, and the pink one is suddenly in the water.


Crazy Credits

This is the second Walt Disney feature-length film ("Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" was the first) on which the credit "Walt Disney presents" never appears. It appeared on all the other feature-length films that Disney personally produced.


Alternate Versions

In the roadshow version, the scenes of the orchestra tuning up at the beginning, before Deems Taylor ever appears, go on about a minute longer than in the general release version, and the sounds that the orchestra makes at the very beginning are slightly different from those in the general release version.


Soundtracks

The Sorcerer's Apprentice
(1897)
Composed by
Paul Dukas
Partly re-orchestrated by Leopold Stokowski (uncredited)
Played by an orchestra made up of Los Angeles area session musicians
Conducted by Leopold Stokowski

Storyline

Plot Summary


Genres

Animation | Family | Fantasy | Music

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