This Is a Journey into Sound – Fantasia (1940)

Timeless.  Putting music to pictures, Fantasia animates classical music to a variety of different segments, some telling a story, some just being a series of abstract images.  I recall watching this movie a number of times on VHS in my adolescence, and upon rewatching this as an adult, I think it still holds up.  Not everybody agrees with this opinion, because this is on Premiere Magazine’s “The 20 Most Overrated Movies of All Time” list.

RAT_111Critics can really stop being so jaded and calm the hell down.

The section that everybody remembers fondly from this is “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, where Mickey Mouse borrows the sorcerer’s hat, animates some brooms to complete the chores that he is not interested in performing, until the point where it inevitably backfires.  It’s easy to see why it is so adored, as it is the one with the clearest cut story.  There is a very defined rising and falling action, and it is the piece that is easiest to identify with.  However, as far as what I would consider to be my favorite, I would give the edge to the finale, “Night on Bald Mountain.”   It depicts a gargantuan demon summoning spirits during a sinister night in a mountainside town.  It’s really not for kids (despite me initially watching this before I turned the age of 10), but it is strikingly memorable, and it’s like watching a vivid animated nightmare of somebody who is worried about being damned to hell.

baldDon’t worry, little Johnny can handle it.

Every single one of these seven segments has a lot of personality, and they all stay with you long after you have walked away.  From the history of the world, showing the dawn and the demise of the dinosaurs, to the centaurs and fauns having a raucous party until they have to weather a Zeus lightning storm, from hippos dancing with alligators to the opening number where music is put to what your brain might imagine sounds to look like, a lot of work went into the artistry of this, and with fantastic music backing this up, I do consider this to be mandatory viewing.

Fantasia (1940) ****

– Critic for Hire


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