Fantasia (1940)

Animation, Family, Fantasy, Music
Leopold Stokowski, Deems Taylor, Corey Burton, Walt Disney
A collection of animated interpretations of great works of Western classical music.
A landmark in animation (and a huge influence on the medium of music video), Disney's Fantasia is a relentlessly inventive blend of the classics with phantasmagorical images.
  • Walt Disney Productions Company:
  • Approved Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 25 Dec 1940 Released:
  • 01 Nov 1991 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • Joe Grant, Dick Huemer Writer:
  • N/A Director:
  • N/A Website:

All subtitles:

Trailer:

Best Animated Film Ever5/10

This without a doubt the greatest animated film in history. While highly acclaimed and well-known today, it was not terribly popular when it was first released. The idea of "Fantasia" is to take great pieces of music and draw animated sequences that match them. In doing so, it reverses the purpose of a movie's score; the movie serves and matches the music, not the other way around. This set up also means that there is no typical formula plot that is present in the vast majority of movies. In the first piece, the animation is vague and abstract, but in later ones it is of definite actions, objects, and stories. The two most famous(and my favorite) parts are probably "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and "Rite of Spring". "Fantasia" is not only the best animated film ever made, but one of the greatest films period.
A Truly Unique Experience5/10

This is one of the truly rare, one of a kind movie going experiences, kind of in the same league as watching 2001: A Space Odyssey. I like to watch this film repeatedly; often times I'll just close my eyes and daydream, letting my own imagination go in place of whats on the screen. My favorite part is the opening sequence, with its dramatic music and free flowing imagery foreshadowing the state of the world in 1940. The end of Ave Maria is the perfect bookend to this masterpiece; death has withdrawn and peace has finally arrived. It would, but not for another five years and millions of lives. I can never watch this movie without seeing it in this context; for me its a work of art, both a part and ahead of its time.
A Classic5/10

Disney's "Fantasia" is a pure classic.

What we are shown are a few animated musicals, filled with grand splendor and vivid colors.

"Fantasia" is one of those films that everyone knows by heart, and has watched since being a child.

My personal favorite was always the Mickey Mouse short - one of the darkest Mickey cartoons I've ever seen.

If you haven't seen "Fantasia" yet, then you must be from another planet. It is one of the best Disney musicals ever, which some push aside and forget too easily.

5/5 stars-

John Ulmer
Unusual & Very Creative5/10
This unusual and very creative classic of animation combines a very interesting idea with quite a bit of imagination, plus visual effects that still hold up quite well. All but a couple of the sequences are quite enjoyable, and some especially so. Even the segments that don't work as well are usually at least interesting, since you can at least appreciate what they were trying to accomplish.

You don't really have to be all that familiar with the specific pieces of music for it to be worthwhile, since in several cases they chose to match the music with material that is rather different in nature from any original context that it may have had. And in any case, the animated sequences are intended to provide the context, in terms of the movie.

No doubt, everyone will have his or her own favorite segments, based on the music itself and on the choice of accompanying visual material. The "Sorcerer's Apprentice" sequence, with Mickey Mouse, is certainly one of the most memorable. The adaptation of "The Rite of Spring" is quite imaginative in using an entirely different setting for the music. "Night on Bald Mountain" has striking and sometimes bizarre visuals.

Many of the classic Disney features still hold up well as family entertainment, but "Fantasia" is unique for its combination of imaginative concept and visual creativity. Not every minute of it works, but that's the price of being willing to experiment. It's an enjoyable and satisfying feature that well deserves to be remembered.
Fantastic10/10

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.