Fantasia is the third full-length animated feature film in the Disney animated canon. This is the longest Disney animated full-length feature film, with a runtime of 124 minutes.
Some of the works played in the film are program music; that is, instrumental music that depicts or suggests stories in sound. However, the Disney program is generally not the same as the original. This criticism was addressed in the film itself. The host and narrator of the film, Deems Taylor, introduces each piece in the program and gives background on the original intent of the composer. There is no intent to deceive anyone into thinking that the Disney visual accompaniment was the "original intent" of the composer.
Some of the selections were shortened from their full length, for the sake of the film's running time. Of the eight pieces, four are presented virtually complete: Toccata and Fugue, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, the Dance of the Hours (which is actually expanded), and the Ave Maria. The Nutcracker Suite is shorn of its Miniature Overture and March, the twenty-five minute Rite of Spring (the longest segment in the film) is ten minutes shorter than the original thirty-five minute work, and the Pastoral Symphony segment is performed in a twenty-minute version rather than Beethoven's complete forty-minute original. There are also small internal omissions in Night on Bald Mountain.
Fantasia was produced on a budget of $2,280,000, to which $400,000 - nearly a fifth of the budget - went to the musical recording techniques.
Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
- Musical score: Johann Sebastian Bach – Toccata and Fugue in D Minor BWV 565 (Stokowski's own orchestration)
- Directed by Samuel Armstrong
- Story development: Lee Blair, Elmer Plummer, and Phil Dike
- Art direction: Robert Cormack
- Background painting: Joe Stahley, John Hench, and Nino Carbe
- Visual development: Oskar Fischinger
- Animation: Cy Young, Art Palmer, Daniel MacManus, George Rowley, Edwin Aardal, Joshua Meador, and Cornett Wood
Fantasia begins immediately (there are no opening credits or logos of any sort) with the curtains being opened to reveal an orchestra stand. Musicians are seen ascending the stand, taking their places, and tuning their instruments. Master of ceremonies Deems Taylor arrives and delivers an introduction to the film. Stokowski appears and begins conducting the first strains of his own orchestration of the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, by Johann Sebastian Bach (originally written for solo organ).
The first third of the Toccata and Fugue is in live-action, and features an orchestra playing the piece, illuminated by abstract light patterns set in time to the music and backed by stylized (and superimposed) shadows. The first few parts of the piece are played in each of the three sound channels (first the right, then the left, then the middle, then all of them) as a demonstration of Fantasound. The number segues into an abstract animation piece—a first for the Disney studio—set in time to the music. Toccata and Fugue was inspired primarily by the work of German abstract animator Oskar Fischinger, who worked for a brief time on this segment. The animation segues back into the live-action footage of Stokowski as the piece concludes, setting the precedent for the rest of the musical numbers.
Although the Philadelphia Orchestra recorded the music for the film (excepting The Sorcerer's Apprentice), they do not appear onscreen; the orchestra used onscreen in the film is made up of local Los Angeles musicians and Disney studio employees like James Macdonald and Paul J. Smith, who mime to the prerecorded tracks by Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Originally, the Philadelphia Orchestra was slated to be filmed in the introduction and interstitial segments, but union and budgetary considerations prevented this from coming to pass.
- Musical score: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Nutcracker Suite Op. 71a
- Directed by Samuel Armstrong
- Story development: Sylvia Moberly-Holland, Norman Wright, Albert Heath, Bianca Majolie, and Graham Heid
- Character designs: John Walbridge, Elmer Plummer, and Ethel Kulsar
- Art direction: Robert Cormack, Al Zinnen, Curtiss D. Perkins, Arthur Byram, and Bruce Bushman
- Background painting: John Hench, Ethel Kulsar, and Nino Carbe
- Animation: Art Babbitt, Les Clark, Don Lusk, Cy Young, and Robert Stokes
- Choreography: Jules Engel
The Nutcracker Suite, a selection of pieces from Tchaikovsky's now-classic ballet The Nutcracker, is a personified depiction of the changing of the seasons; first from summer to autumn, and then from autumn to winter. Unlike the original Tchaikovsky ballet, this version of The Nutcracker has no plot. It features a variety of dances, just as in the original, but danced by animated fairies, fish, flowers, mushrooms, and leaves; no actual nutcracker is ever seen in this version. Many elements are rendered carefully and painstakingly using techniques such as drybrush and airbrush. The musical segments are as follows:
As dawn breaks over a meadow, during the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy", tiny fairies sprinkle drops of dew on every flower and stern.
A cluster of tiny mushrooms, dressed in long robes and coolie hats resembling Chinese (plus one little mushroom always out-of-step), perform the "Chinese Dance".
Multicolored blossoms shaped like ballerinas perform the "Dance of the Flutes".
A school of underwater goldfish perform a graceful "Arab Dance".
High-kicking thistles, dressed like Cossacks, and orchids, dressed like lovely Russian peasant girls, join together for the wild "Russian Dance".
In the final musical segment, "Waltz of the Flowers", autumn fairies color everything they touch brown and gold with their wands. Then the frost fairies arrive and everything becomes part of an icy, jewellike pattern among falling snow flakes.
One quaint novelty of the full-length roadshow version of Fantasia is that, during his commentary on the Nutcracker Suite, Deems Taylor observes that the complete ballet The Nutcracker "is never performed anymore." The United States did not see a complete staging of the Nutcracker until 1944, four years after Fantasia, and George Balanchine's 1954 staging with the New York City Ballet established the modern tradition of performing the ballet at Christmas time.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
- Musical score: Paul Dukas – The Sorcerer's Apprentice
- Directed by James Algar
- Story development: Perce Pearce and Carl Fallberg
- Art direction: Tom Codrick, Charles Phillipi, and Zack Schwartz
- Background painting: Claude Coats, Stan Spohn, Albert Dempster, and Eric Hansen
- Animation supervisors: Fred Moore and Vladimir Tytla
- Animation: Les Clark, Riley Thompson, Marvin Woodward, Preston Blair, Edward Love, Ugo D'Orsi, Wikipedia: George Rowley, and Cornett Wood
The Sorcerer's Apprentice, perhaps the best-known Mickey Mouse short after his debut in Steamboat Willie (1928), was adapted from Goethe's poem "Der Zauberlehrling". It is the story of wizard Yen Sid's ambitious, but lazy, assistant who attempts to work some of the magical feats of his master before he knows how to properly control them. Mickey plays the role of the apprentice.
After the music ends, Mickey and conductor Leopold Stokowski, seen in silhouette, congratulate each other with a live-action/animation handshake. In the original roadshow version, after Mickey leaves, Deems Taylor and the musicians are seen applauding Mickey and Stokowski.
The Rite of Spring
- Musical score: Igor Stravinsky – The Rite of Spring
- Directed by Bill Roberts and Paul Satterfield
- Story development/research: William Martin, Leo Thiele, Robert Sterner, and John Fraser McLeish
- Art direction: McLaren Stewart, Dick Kelsey, and John Hubley
- Background painting: Ed Starr, Brice Mack, and Edward Levitt
- Animation supervision: Wolfgang Reitherman and Joshua Meador
- Animation: Philip Duncan, John McManus, Paul Busch, Art Palmer, Don Tobin, Edwin Aardal, and Paul B. Kossoff
- Special camera effects: Gail Papineau and Leonard Pickley
Disney's imaginitive re-interpretation of the music to The Rite of Spring features a condensed version of the history of the Earth from the formation of the planet, to the first living creatures, to the age, reign, and extinction of the dinosaurs. The sequence showcased realistically animated prehistoric creatures including Tyrannosaurus rex, Dimetrodon, Parasaurolophus, Apatosaurus, Triceratops, Struthiomimus, and Stegosaurus (see list of dinosaurs used ), and used extensive and complicated special effects to depict volcanoes, boiling lava, and earthquakes. The large carnivorous dinosaur attacking the Stegosaurus is a villanous Tyrannosaurus rex according to the preliminary introduction to the segment by Deems Taylor, and concept sketches by the artists. Disney also changed the order of the movements in the piece. The segment, after beginning with the first, second and third movements, omits the fourth and reorders all the others. The Danse de la terre is placed near the end of the cartoon rather than midway through the work. At the end, the orchestra replays the slow introduction to the Rite, which does not happen in the original work. (The original ends with a violent Sacrificial Dance - also omitted in the Disney version - and an orchestral crash.)
The roadshow version of the film features a humorous moment omitted from the general release version. When Deems Taylor announces the title of the work, there is a sudden loud crash in the percussion section, and we see that the chimes player has accidentally fallen against his instrument. He sheepishly gets up, to the amused chuckling of Taylor and the other musicians.
Intermission/Meet the Soundtrack
- Directed by Ben Sharpsteen and David D. Hand
- Key animation by Joshua Meador
Deems Taylor announces a fifteen-minute intermission following the conclusion of The Rite of Spring. The musicians are seen departing the orchestra stand, and the doors close to reveal a title card. In a proper roadshow of Fantasia, the theater's curtains would close simultaneously with the closing doors on the screen, and the title card would remain projected for fifteen minutes while the guests are briefly excused. Following the intermission, the film would be started again. Onscreen, the stage doors are opened again, and Taylor and the orchestra musicians are seen returning to their respective places.
After the intermission there is a jam session of jazz music led by a clarinetist in the orchestra, followed immediately by the brief Meet the Soundtrack sequence which gives audiences a stylized example of how sound is rendered as waveforms to record the music for Fantasia. The sequence features animation by effects animator Joshua Meador and his team, who give the soundtrack (initially a squiggly line which changes into various shapes based upon the individual sounds played on the soundtrack) a distinct personality.
The instruments are a harp, violin, flute, trumpet, bassoon, and percussion including the bass drum, snare drum, cymbals, and triangle.
The Pastoral Symphony
- Musical score: Ludwig van Beethoven – Symphony No. 6 in F, Op.68 "Pastorale"
- Directed by Hamilton Luske, Jim Handley, and Ford Beebe
- Story development: Otto Englander, Webb Smith, Erdman Penner, Joseph Sabo, Bill Peet, and George Stallings
- Character designs: James Bodrero, John P. Miller, Lorna S. Soderstrom
- Art direction: Hugh Hennesy, Kenneth Anderson, J. Gordon Legg, Herbert Ryman, Yale Gracey, and Lance Nolley
- Background painting: Claude Coats, Ray Huffine, W. Richard Anthony, Arthur Riley, Gerald Nevius, and Roy Forkum
- Animation supervision: Fred Moore, Ward Kimball, Eric Larson, Art Babbitt, Ollie Johnston, and Don Towsley
- Animation: Berny Wolf, Jack Campbell, Jack Bradbury, James Moore, Milt Neil, Bill Justice, John Elliotte, Walt Kelly, Don Lusk, Lynn Karp, Murray McClellan, Robert W. Youngquist, and Harry Hamsel
The Pastoral Symphony utilized delicate color styling to depict a mythical ancient Greek world of centaurs, families of pegasi, the gods of Mount Olympus, fauns, cupids, and other legendary creatures and characters of classical mythology. It tells the story of the mythological creatures gathering for a festival to honour Bacchus, the god of wine riding his horned donkey, Jacchus, which is interrupted by Zeus, who decides to have a little fun by throwing lightning bolts at the attendees.
Disney originally intended to use Cydalise by Gabriel Piern as the music for the mythological section of the program. However, due to problems fitting the story to the music, the decision was made to abandon Cydalise for other music.
This portion of the film was criticized for brief yet blatant nudity on the part of the female centaurs. Other criticisms center on the racial images of a female centaur servant named Sunflower, who is part African human, part donkey, and two attendants to Dionysus who are part African Amazons, part zebra. The servant has been excised from all prints in circulation since 1969 (often by the use of pan and zoom, so the scene doesn't focus on her), although the clip has recently turned up on various blogs and internet media.
Dance of the Hours
- Musical score: Amilcare Ponchielli – La Giaconda: Dance of the Hours
- Directed by T. Hee and Norm Ferguson
- Character designs: Martin Provensen, James Bodrero, Duke Russell, Earl Hurd
- Art direction: Kendall O'Connor, Harold Doughty, and Ernest Nordli
- Background painting: Albert Dempster and Charles Conner
- Animation supervision: Norm Ferguson
- Animation: John Lounsbery, Howard Swift, Preston Blair, Hugh Fraser, Harvey Toombs, Norman Tate, Hicks Lokey, Art Elliott, Grant Simmons, Ray Patterson, and Franklin Grundeen.
The dancers of the morning are represented by Madame Upanova and her ostrich students. The dancers of the daytime are represented by Hyacinth Hippo and her hippo servants. (For this section the piece is expanded by a modified and reorchestrated repetition of the "morning" music.) The dancers of the evening are represented by Elephanchine and her bubble-blowing elephant troupe. The dancers of the night are represented by Ben Ali Gator and his rival aligators. The finale sees the chaotic chase that ensues between all of the characters seen in the segment until they eventually decide to dance together.
The segment ends with the palace collapsing in on itself.
Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria
- Musical score:
- Modest Mussorgsky – Night on Bald Mountain
- Franz Schubert – Ave 'Maria
- Directed by Wilfred Jackson
- Story development: Campbell Grant, Arthur Heinemann, and Phil Dike
- Art direction: Kay Nielsen, Terrell Stapp, Charles Payzant and Thor Putnam
- Background painting: Merle Cox, Ray Lockrem, Robert Storms, and W. Richard Anthony
- Special English lyrics for Ave Maria by Rachel Field
- Choral director: Charles Henderson
- Operatic solo: Julietta Novis
- Animation supervision: Vladimir Tytla
- Animation: John McManus, William N. Shull, Robert W. Carlson, Jr., Lester Novros, and Don Patterson
- Special animation effects: Joshua Meador, Miles E. Pike, John F. Reed, and Daniel MacManus
- Special camera effects: Gail Papineau and Leonard Pickley
The Night on Bald Mountain segment is a showcase for animator Bill Tytla, who gave the demon Chernabog a power and intensity rarely seen in Disney films. The nocturnal Chernabog summons from their graves, empowered restless souls.The horror of the demons, ghosts, skeletons, fire women, monsterous imps, witches, harpies, and other evil creatures in Night on Bald Mountain comes to an abrupt end with the sound of the Angelus bell, which send Chernabog and his followers back into hiding, and the multiplane camera tracks away from Bald Mountain to reveal a line of faithful robed religious figures with lighted torches. The camera slowly follows them as they walk through the forest and ruins of a cathedral to the sounds of the Ave Maria.
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- This is the only Disney film to have an intermission.
- Famous internet critic Doug Walker (The Nostalgia Critic) claimed Fantasia to be his favorite Disney movie in the animated canon.
- Fantasia is the second Disney film to be preserved in the National Film Registry, having been preserved in 1990. The first being Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (was preserved in 1989), the third being Pinocchio (was preserved in 1994) the fourth being Beauty and the Beast (was preserved in 2002) and the fifth being Bambi (was preserved in 2011).
|Fantasia 2000 | Who Framed Roger Rabbit | Video game | House of Mouse | Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
Shorts: The Sorcerer's Apprentice | The Rite of Spring | The Pastoral Symphony | Dance of the Hours | Night on Bald Mountain | Ave Maria | Pines of Rome | The Carnival of the Animals | The Firebird Suite
Characters: Mickey Mouse | Donald Duck | Daisy Duck | Yen Sid | Chernabog | Chernabog's minions | Magic Brooms | Tyrannosaurus Rex | Stegosaurus | Triceratops | Pteranodon | Bacchus | Jacchus | Centaurettes | Melinda | Brudus | Iris | Zeus | Vulcan | Madame Upanova and her ostriches | Hyacinth Hippo and her hippos | Elephanchine and her elephants | Ben Ali Gator and his alligators | Butterflies | Bats | Whales | Duke | Rachel | Flying John | Killjoy Margaret | Jobless Joe | Tin Soldier | Ballerina | Jack-in-the-Box | Yo Yo Flamingo | Snooty Flamingos | Spring Sprite | Elk | Firebird
Songs: Ave Maria