Thursday, April 14, 2011

Capsule Review: Fantasia (1940)

It was perhaps the most ambitious project in animation up to that point in history: a series of visualizations and adaptations of well-regarded classical compositions by a collection of Disney's most renowned directors and animators. Unlike the previous successes of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio, these pieces would rely - aside from introductions between each piece by critic and com­poser Deems Tay­lor- totally on the music (con­ducted by Leopold Stokowski) and images, which were sometimes wildly experimental. Originally a financial disappointment, it was rediscovered and embraced by the counter-culture of the 60s, where the often intense and bizarre imagery - particularly in the closing Night on Bald Mountain sequence - delighted the hippy set. Through modern eyes it's still delightful to look at, but proves to be awfully uneven with the timeless Sorcerer's Apprentice sequence standing next to the dodgy (though sometimes beautiful) The Rite of Spring. Still, it's one of the most visually stunning films of its era and has been preserved beautifully. Followed by Fantasia 2000 nearly 60 years later!

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