Disney Movies: Fantasia

So I thought I had been prepared for this one because of my obsession with it as a kid. But in fact, I was wrong. This was yet another oddity of Disney, yet not a poorly done one. Number trois:



Here’s some background: Fantasia was also released in 1940 and was a movie based off set pieces of classical, instrumental music conducted by Leopold Stokowski and performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra. The movie also features 8 different animated scenes that each tell their own story and that Deems Taylor acts as the spokesman of. It is iconic for its integration of music and animation without many words and the Mickey sorcerer scene. So — let’s begin.


Considering they were so many separate animated scenes, this one is harder to judge. For the most part, the consistency was all right in the sense that one could pick up on what was going on within each scene pretty quickly, Deems Taylor was always there to talk us through each piece, and there was always good music to go behind the animation. The only thing that perhaps made it strangely inconsistent was the constant switching between the real life scenes and the animated ones. I personally don’t really like when a movie contains both because I believe it sets off the flow of the emphasized one – whichever one that may be. Here, we have Deems Taylor constantly interrupting the flow of the animated sketches to talk to us about what is going to happen in it. He is like a spoiler alert in the making. Not only do we know exactly what’s going to happen in the next scene, but he takes too long to segue us into it.

(I’m going to skip character development because there are no characters that follow us all the way through.)


Here is where we can judge this movie best, considering these were the two things that the movie was famed for. The animation style was much stronger than it was in Pinocchio and already we have much more variation, with the girls and women in particular. Not only has Disney included girls with larger facial features that help distinguish them as individual people, but has introduced many variations of people. We have fall and winter fairies, dew fairies, strangely racist-looking mushrooms, animals that can dance ballet, and of course, my favorite scene, the Greek creatures in their happy Greek land. The animation is clever, interesting, and new in this film and the music, of course, only adds to it. The music, though not as grand as I had expected, goes along with the animation very nicely, no matter what scene is occurring presently. The best scene and music combo by far was the famous Mickey as a sorcerer scene. The music is very intense and great in this one and the animation is quite mature. However, there were a few unnecessary scenes that I thought were forced to go along with the music – such as the Can-Caning flowers and few scenes where there is not really a story at all but more an odd collection of colors, vibrations, and shapes to go along with the specific music.


Again, there were few scenes that I disliked. Most of them had an interesting and intriguing story to tell that was made distinctly their own through the music and animation. There were a few that made me uncomfortable, such as the farting trombone images that wobbled like an old turkey’s neck, as well as the few introductory scenes with exotic flowers coming to life. Otherwise, most of the stories were quite clever, dark, and even funny. My two favorites are the animals that dance ballet and the Greek Gods scene. Those are very well done and keep your attention well, particularly the ballet scene. It is hilarious, cute, and clever all in one. Some of the other scenes, like the dinosaur one and the very last one, with the Devil and his ghouls, are made out to be very dark and tragic. But, these ones are still well-done, just perhaps scarier for children. Whereas the beginning scenes and ones that made me uncomfortable are probably better for children because they rely solely on more basic visuals, vibrant colors, and lack of story depth. The best part about this whole movie is that it doesn’t need words to tell any of these stories. Except when Deems Taylor is rudely interrupting to speak to us as if we’re idiots that can’t figure things out, of course.


What do you think?


2 thoughts on “Disney Movies: Fantasia

  1. Of course Fantasia was WAY ahead of its time, and 1940 audiences scratched their heads and didn’t get it. It was a huge flop at the time, even though critics liked it. But think about it. Walt was elevating a form that later made music videos possible. And, in the theaters in large cities, it was shown in a 4-channel surround mix, the first movie ever to be presented non-mono. There weren’t even any stereo (2-channel) mixes until the widescreen Bible movies of the 1950s, and movies didn’t become multi-channel until after Star Wars (1977).


    1. It is a shame it wasn’t as well-received then. It is an interesting task for Disney to take on, especially at that time, and I definitely don’t think it was a fail in the slightest! The fact that he made all of those various animated skits to go with specific music was not only clever, but like you said, unheard of back then.


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