Fantasia Review

Historically defiant and well animated, Fantasia has within its roots a variable case for bringing Disney back to the forefront it never even left. The flagging popularity of Mickey Mouse throughout the 1930s had seen a dependency on princesses and evil witches. Fantasy elements that played up strongly and are still utilised to this day. “The designs, pictures and stories that music inspired,” Deems Taylor says. He is the narrator and orchestral lead, but also the great explainer of what Fantasia is and what it tries to achieve. It is an apparent chase of music and the visualisation that comes with it. What an audience as an individual believes to see as they listen to albums or conducted pieces, Fantasia hopes to interpret these in pictures.

It is a bold and noble opportunity to bring music to the world of animation, as if the two weren’t already working together. What Fantasia manages though is a collaboration of music and meaning. From the slight visual flair of lighting changing to the pitch of the music to the actual animated segments that have the tracks underscoring them, Fantasia is a marvellous, innovative piece. An interest in classical music certainly helps. But that is the tremendous aspect of movies that would later be established. Long after Fantasia, the unity of classical music and feature films was founded a bit more firmly. Fantasia is the leap in the right direction as it shows a shadowed orchestra, a clear pioneer of understanding music in film, not just using it.

Nowhere is that clearer than when the animation comes to life alongside the orchestra. Fantasia is a purely visual experience and a fascinating one at that. That confidence in switching the tone of the feature or the pace of the song is an indispensable asset founded on quality and confidence. Fantasia has much of that and rightly so. Leaves falling, wave-like hills rolling by, it is all in time with the music and creates an unreasonable level of quality. It is maddeningly good at times. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment with Mickey Mouse is undeniably eventful, a real classic for the screen. Seeing it in full is superb. The animation flourishes with genuine effectiveness and the music crashes into it with a stronger understanding of the backdrop and characterisations of a cocky sorcerer trying to get out of doing his job.

Somewhere within these shorter stories is a message of some description. There must be. Fantasia experiments with the power of music so strongly and credibly. It is the interaction of a directing ensemble with the music that often goes unrealised and unappreciated that makes Fantasia so strong. Disney identifies that just one aspect of film can make a huge difference. Music takes control here, and the effect of it is a series of shorts that rely on the timbre and tone of a musical cue. Engaging animation, memorable classics and a seamless blur of music, colour and quality are found throughout Fantasia, one of the most engaged and unique opportunities ever crafted by Disney.

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