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  Fantasia Hooked On ClassicsBuy this film here.
Year: 1940
Director: Various
Stars: Leopold Stokowski, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Deems Taylor, Mickey Mouse
Genre: Musical, Animated, Fantasy
Rating:  8 (from 4 votes)
Review: A collection of classical music by such composers as Bach, Beethoven, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky is accompanied by various animated sequences to create a feast for the eyes and ears.

This is one of the rare Disney features that appeals more to adults than it does to children. While classical music buffs might find it too crass, fans of the more traditional Disney fairytales may find it too highbrow, hence its cult status that grew after its initial failure at the box office.

The film's appeal is that when it gets it right, it successfully blends whimsy and a lightness of touch that makes it quite charming. Although the least effective episode, the much-maligned, mythological Pastoral Symphony fails to do this at all, coming across as sickly sweet.

On the other hand, the best, and rightly most famous, episode is the Sorcerer's Apprentice, where Mickey Mouse conjures up a magical labour-saving device that turns against him in splendid fashion: here is what the project sets out to do - a perfect match of the music and the image. On the more serious side, The Rite of Spring tells the story of creation just as impressively.

Other high points include the Dance of the Hours, which, with its gallumphing hippos and ostriches, mixes humour with the music in a way that the Pastoral Symphony fails to do, and the Toccata and Fugue, a successful attempt at a more abstract style that gets things off to a fine start. And for the ending, A Night on Bald Mountain, with its demons and hellfire, is contrasted with the slightly more wishy-washy Ave Maria that should see you home safely.

But is it art? Walt Disney obviously thought it was, and if it's good enough for him, it, er, might be good enough for you. However, many thought he was out of his depth with Fantasia, and you can't deny it's pretentious. You could always watch it while stoned, which, so I'm told, enhances the experience greatly. Also with: lots of bubbles, for some reason.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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