1001 Films – Fantasia (1941)

FantasiaA collection of animated interpretations of great works of Western classical music.

Brief Thoughts

Before: I picked this one as my first ‘free choice’ film because I love it, the music and the art. I often have it on as a backing track while I’m doing other things.

After: God I love this film. I had to make a point to be actively watching and not using it as backing music. I can’t believe it’s 70 years old next year.

Why did I pick this as my free choice?

As I often have this on as backing music while I’m writing my blog or doing stuff around the flat it seemed like the obvious first free choice.

Idea

I love this concept, it’s such an amazing way to show the power of classical music. For those who don’t know the basic idea of Fantasia is putting illustrations to classical music, it’s about making classical music accessible. It stops being about the name of the music and more about the feeling and the pictures. Not many people would recognise Ponchielli’s ‘Dance of the hours’ but tell them it’s the once with the dancing hippos and elephants and they’ll know what piece of music you’re talking about. As an idea it’s genius and does exactly what it sets out to do.

It’s also worth noting that this film gave me nightmares as a kid, and even now the part with the demons at the end still honestly scares me. It was a combination of the demons and the crocodiles that gave me nightmares but now it’s just the demons. So that’s progress. But just after the nightmare figures is the Ava Maria and one of the most beautiful pieces of animation in cinema history. Just the peace of the world after all the anger of hell.

Plot

As this film is an anthology of music and animations there isn’t much plot to speak of apart from the individual plot of the pieces of music, most famously from this film is ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’ with Micky Mouse charming mops and buckets to do his work for him, falling asleep and then being unable to stop it even when everything is completely flooded. Incidentally as they say in the film this story is older than the music; it also became a Nicholas Cage film in 2010 (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) which unsurprisingly did not make it onto the list of top 1001 films.

Music

The whole point of this film is to show off the music to the best of it’s ability. The music is at the centre of everything that happens. It’s a range of classical music and styles; it goes from moments of intense dark (Night on Bold Mountain – ) to hope (Ava Maria). There’s  fun (The Magician’s Apprentice) and comedy (Dance of the Hours). There’s the well known pieces (‘The Nutcracker Suite’ and ‘Toccata and Fugue in D Minor’) and pieces that are less well known (‘The Rite of Spring’ and ‘The Pastoral Symphony’).

It’s an amazing mix of pieces and like I said it’s often something I put on as a backing track while I’m doing other things – like writing this blog.

Art

Oh god, this whole concept is an artist’s dream. To be be given pretty much free reign to draw something that matches the music.

It’s old style Disney animation with drawing so beautiful it makes you want to cry at their skill.

Did I enjoy it? Always
Am I glad I watched it? Always
Would I watch again? 100% yes.
Would I have watched it if not for this challenge? As I watched it at least once a month/every other month that’s a hard yes.

My film next week is the original ’42nd Street’. *jazz hands at the ready*

8 thoughts on “1001 Films – Fantasia (1941)

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  5. This is a brilliant anthology of music and art that I adore watching. It is timeless, getting better with every viewing. I loved your review of Fantasia and can not wait to watch again.

    Like

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