Fantasia (1940)

Fantasia is basically one of the coolest things Disney’s created. Ever. There’s also not a lot of social stuff to commentary on, so we’ll be brief.

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor

It was okay.

The Nutcracker Suite

The Nutcracker Suite had fallen out of popularity (Tchaikovsky ended up hating it); as narrator Deems Taylor described it “is never performed anymore.” The first complete staging of The Nutcracker was in 1944 in the U.S.

The “Chinese Dance” portion of this segment features what else, seven ‘coolie‘ shrooms, who spend the entire time bowing and getting down with their bad stereotypical selves.

Benchley would be proud.

The Nutcracker segment also includes a part where these things are flying about, doing stuff:

Ricktopher says, “Those are hot dragonflies, if that’s what they are.”

Tony the Tiger says, “They can frost my flakes anytime. They’re grrrrrrrreat!”

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Adapted from Goethe’s poem “Der Zauberlehrling,” The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Der Zauberlehrling in German) was the only Fantasia segment where the music was created to fit the animation and story, not the other way around. By the way, Cecil B. DeMille totally ripped off The Sorcerer’s Apprentice when he got Charlton Heston to divide some water with his rifle portrayed Moses parting the Red Sea in The Ten Commandments.

The Rite of Spring

So, they rearranged parts of The Right of Spring with its physical comparison being something like this:

After a lengthy discussion of what science has to say about evolution, Deems Taylor neglects to mention the FSM’s role…completely disappointed.

We did find the artistic renderings of planets and comets and the like very interesting; especially considering travel into space was still just a concept. The science is a little out of date, too. You know, the dinosaurs became extinct because there was a big drought then some earthquakes. Yeah, that’s right.

[Now we’ll have a 15 minute intermission.]

Ricktopher: Stupid DVD not giving me my intermission. Came back and missed 15 minutes of the movie!

Meet the Soundtrack is a little jazzy segment right after the intermission. It’s pretty cool:

The Pastoral Symphony

The Disney team working on this segment took Beethoven’s Symphony no. 6 and went Greek with it…

…And by Greek we mean topless women, My Little Unicorns (what else did little ancient Greek girls play with?), cavorting/hooking up, and some serious binge drinking. Topless women! It’s ok if you can’t see their nipples, right? Wait, they’re centaurs. What?

There is some serious overboob and underboob showing. How did that get past the Hayes code? By the way, little cupids, your hats looks like crap. Stop trying, they’re ugly. The centaurs are pretty much all matching colors- equal but separate. Think we’re just digging for some racial issue to talk about? Possibly. But here’s something you won’t see in your copy of Fantasia:

That’s right, in the original, Disney included a character named Sunflower; a half donkey, half black girl with all the black caricature-y things (like, being a servant/slave) white people needed to have included so that they knew this was supposed to be a black person. There’s also the possibility that there are more Sunflowers; the movie shows Sunflower with a couple different hair styles which could mean that they actually represent several servant/slave half-asses. It’s hard to tell, though, because the difference in hair style is the only distinguishing feature.

Need we even explain what she was even doing in this scene? Of course she was happily shining the hoofs and fixing the tails of the non-black centaurs and there’s not even any thought or explanation given as to why she’s the only one that doesn’t meet a mate by the end of the segment. The others females are chosen by the males who picked them out of the lot after the females paraded and posed in front of the males.

This segment also answered a question raised by a bizarre maquette we met in The Reluctant Dragon. Yep. Zebra Centaurs! That’s what that model was for! African slaves for Bacchus. Great. As they’re drinking and dancing, all the centaurs take part, along with Bacchus and even the donkey he rode in on. Who’s not dancing? The two zebra-centaurs and Sunflower. Guess ‘the help’ isn’t supposed to do that.

Dance of the Hours

Crocs in capes and hippos, elephants and ostriches in ballet slippers and tutus prancing about to “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh.” Awesome.

Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria

All we’re going to say is that the lame Ave Maria part does NOT make up for the way creepy Night on Mt. Baldy part. There are scary ghost nipples for Pete’s sake! How do you recover from that?! You don’t. MLE’s parents had very good reasons for not letting her watch this part as a young sprout.

Scary ghost nipples! AAAAAHHHH!

In Sum

We suspect that Fantasia was maybe not so much for kids, but more for adults to appreciate animation as an emerging entertainment medium. There are some parts that are quite avant-garde and we much prefer Disney doing this than Disney doing something like Melody Time. Just sayin’. Alternate title, Fantasia: A Whole Lotta Boob.


Rating:  15/17
Rating versus Joe versus the Volcano: Thumbs up.

Rating:  18/24
Rating versus Joe versus the Volcano: Thumbs down.