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Walt Disney took
a big chance with this ambitious anthology of animated fantasies.
First, he set them to lengthy classical music pieces, and then he
boldly experimented with different forms of animation, sometimes
jettisoning any sort of narrative altogether. The result is a
sometimes mesmerizing, sometimes hilarious, sometimes frightening,
but always beautiful moviegoing experience. A box-office failure
when first released, it's now considered a timeless treasure.
Highlights include: Mickey Mouse in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice,"
the leaping hippos and alligators in "Dance of the Hours," the rise
and fall of the dinosaurs set to Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring," the
dancing mushrooms of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite," and
Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain," with its fearsome winged
demon raging at the heavens. One of Walt Disney's ambitions for the
project was to rerelease the film periodically over the years with
new sequences. Though the film was regularly rereleased, it wasn't
until 1999 that his intention was finally realized with the
premiere of FANTASIA 2000, a lavish follow-up that included a
digitally restored "Sorcerer's Apprentice" and a host of new
material. The original FANTASIA, however, remains a one-of-a-kind
auditory and visual experience that is still, in many ways, far
ahead of its time.
Stereo Sound, Surround Sound
release: November 13, 1940.
Rereleased in 1946, 1956, 1963, 1969, 1977, 1982, 1985, and
FANTASIA is the third full-length animated feature from Walt
FANTASIA is number 58 on the American Film Institute's list
of America's 100 Greatest Movies.
FANTASIA was added to the Library of Congress National Film
Registry in 1990.
Estimated budget: $2 million.
Walt Disney originally intended "The Sorcerer's Apprentice"
to be a single short, but Leopold Stokowski suggested that Disney
make an entire anthology film of animated shorts set to classical
The film won two special Academy Awards in 1941. One went to
William Garity, John N.A. Hawkins and the RCA Manufacturing
Company, for the "Advancement of the Use of Sound," and another
went to conductor Leopold Stokowski for the "Creation of a New Form
of Visualized Music."
Each sequence of FANTASIA has different directors.
In "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," Mickey Mouse appears to have
pupils for the first time. The Sorcerer, incidentally, is named Yen
Sid, which is the backward spelling of Disney.
The demonic creature in "Night on Bald Mountain" is named
Chernobog, after the god of evil from Slavonic mythology.
"...One of the
landmarks of American animation, as well as a key document in the
popularization of classical music..."
New York Times - p.C4 - John Rockwell
"...[A] fearless mix of classical music and animation..."
USA Today - Mike Clark (11/01/1991)
1941 Academy Awards, Special Achievement Awards
1941 Academy Awards, Special Achievement Awards: Leopold