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FANTASIA (directors: James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, Ford Beebe, Norman Ferguson, Jim Handley, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts & Paul Scatterfield; screenwriters: Joe Grant/Dick Heumer; cinematographer: James Wong Howe; music: Edward H. Plumb; cast: Deems Taylor (Himself), Leopold Stokowski (Himself); Runtime: 124; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Walt Disney; Hollywood Video; 1940)
“It serves as an ambitious experimental attempt to popularize classical music.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It’s classical kitch entertainment that usesconductor Leopold Stokowski (a noted self-publicist) and the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, who are shown in silhouette, to interpret a number of the master’s hits while the Disney artists show off their cool cartoon renditions for the numbers. The animation is keyed to the music of Bach (“Toccata and Fugue in D Minor”), Tchaikovsky (“The Nutcracker Suite”), Dukas (“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”), Stravinsky (“The Rite of Spring”), Beethoven (“Sixth (Pastoral) Symphony”), Ponchielli (“Dance of the Hours”), Mussorgsky (“Night On Bald Mountain”) and Schubert (“Ave Maria”).

Itmakes for a pleasant meeting of the minds between middlebrows and acid heads, who in the 1960s found a kinship with this unintended trippy Disney animation. Our old friend Mickey Mouse makes an appearance in the Dukas piece. Overall, it serves as an ambitious experimental attempt to popularize classical music. Though it might be cheesy, it made for a fun watch. The film flopped on its initial release, but has since the 1950s become a big money winner.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”