Fantasia (1940)

Laughing Gravy
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Laughing Gravy
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March 6th, 2011, 11:35 pm #1

Oh, a very nice pickup at an antique store today... an original 1940 souvenir book from Fantasia, my favorite Disney film. It was sold in the lobby where the film originally played. It's colossal, and wonderful.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Sgt King
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March 7th, 2011, 5:21 am #2

Fantasia has it's critics but I'm not one of them. Sure, it's not perfect - but darn near.
I don't see how the visuals could match the great music selections any better. The dvd extra "The Making Of Fantasia" really helps one to appreciate what a monumental, daring and painstaking movie this was to make.
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CliffClaven
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March 7th, 2011, 8:56 am #3

I'm very fond of both Fantasias. The newer one is glitzier, replacing Deems Taylor's formal introductions (heavily reminding us this is Art, so pay attention) with celebrity schtick (heavily reminding us this is Entertainment, so don't walk out). But the actual music segments are excellent. And while you can debate whether they match the purity of the original film's animation, they do mix it up with a much wider range of visual styles.
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andarius
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March 15th, 2011, 5:44 pm #4

I've never seen Fantasia and was interested when it was re-released many years ago.
But this version had a new digital soundtrack and there was no mention of Leopold Stokowski on the poster, so I decided not to see it.
I vaguely remember seeing someone from Disney on TV saying that the new soundtrack was an interesting experiment, but now they're using the original.
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Laughing Gravy
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March 15th, 2011, 8:08 pm #5

Fantasia has a checkered past... short version, it was seen only in limited venues in its original 2-hour, stereophonic ("Fantasound") release in 1940, then chopped down to about 80 minutes for its nationwide release. When it was re-released in the late 1950s, the stereo soundtrack was re-created using technology of the time. For the 1980s release, though, the soundtrack was deemed to be in such poor shape that the score was re-recorded by in Dolby Digital, and new narration was recorded. These days, I believe the original score from 1940 has been restored, but the introduction bits have been re-recorded once again, although they match what was said originally.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Sgt King
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January 27th, 2013, 2:59 am #6

FIVE FACTS ABOUT FANTASIA (1940) :
1.) This was the first American film to use stereophonic sound; it was also the first film to be recorded in a form called Fantasound.
2.) In 2008, this was marked as #5 on the American Film Institute’s list of the ten greatest films in the genre of animation. (1: Snow White, 2: Pinocchio, 3: Bambi, 4: The Lion King)
3.) This is the first major Hollywood film to be released with no written credits appearing onscreen despite the title and intermission title card.
4.) The character actress Ruby Dandridge performed as the live-action reference model for Hyacinth Hippo during the Dance of the Hours sequence.
5.) This is the longest Disney animated feature, running at 124 minutes.
FIVE FACTS ABOUT FANTASIA 2000:
1.) This was released just after midnight on Dec. 31st 1999, causing it to be the first film to be released in the new millennium.
2.) George Gershwin is featured in the Rhapsody in Blue segment. He is seen playing a piano in his apartment window above where the little girl known as Rachel is seen during her piano lesson.
3.) The Steadfast Tin Soldier scene was slated to appear in the original Fantasia but no one came to a decision as to what music should be used for it.
4.) One of the animals marching into the ark is a frilled lizard which was featured in The Rescuers Down Under.
5.) The Firebird Suite contains an eruption of volcanos which is made to emulate the eruption of Mount Saint Helens in 1980.

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CliffClaven
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January 27th, 2013, 6:09 am #7

During lean years after the war, Disney experimented with budget "Fantasias", built around popular singers and bands instead of the classics. The animation is primo Disney, but the budgets are much, much lower than "Fantasia."

"Make Mine Music" and "Melody Time" are both literally mixed bags, running the gamut from now-classic shorts to smaltzy ballads. Up until the video age they were almost never seen intact, but individual numbers were released on their own or spliced into the TV show.

One deleted segment from "Fantasia" sort of appeared in "Make Mine Music." The animation for "Clair de Lune" was recut to fit a new song, "Blue Bayou."
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CliffClaven
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January 28th, 2013, 11:37 pm #8

CliffClaven wrote:During lean years after the war, Disney experimented with budget "Fantasias", built around popular singers and bands instead of the classics. The animation is primo Disney, but the budgets are much, much lower than "Fantasia."

"Make Mine Music" and "Melody Time" are both literally mixed bags, running the gamut from now-classic shorts to smaltzy ballads. Up until the video age they were almost never seen intact, but individual numbers were released on their own or spliced into the TV show.

One deleted segment from "Fantasia" sort of appeared in "Make Mine Music." The animation for "Clair de Lune" was recut to fit a new song, "Blue Bayou."
Great minds, etc. TCM's MovieMorlocks.com has a superior discourse on my exact points.
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Laughing Gravy
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April 2nd, 2018, 2:25 am #9



Fantasia (1940)
A Walt Disney Production
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
124 min. / Technicolor / Fantasound / 1.37:1

Blu-ray/DVD: Disney

The Wonderful World of Walt Disney #03

"The beauty and inspiration of music must not be restricted to a privileged few but made available to every man, woman, and child. That is why great music associated with motion pictures is so important, because motion pictures reach millions all over our country, and all over the world. Their influence is immensely powerful and deep." - Leopold Stokowski

"In a profession that has been an unending voyage of discovery in the realms of color, sound and motion, Fantasia represents our most exciting adventure." - Walt Disney

Mr. Disney had planned a Mickey Mouse short based on The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and decided to expand the idea of animated classical music to a feature - and what a feature, a two-hour roadshow that would play in surroundsound and tour the nation, with the program changing from time to time, just like a touring orchestra. He brought in music critic/composer Deems Taylor and Leopold Stokowski to help select the musical pieces, and then set 8 directors and his army of artists loose on interpreting the works. The final lineup, released in November, 1940:

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (Bach) - a symphony of colors and shapes
The Nutcracker Suite (Tchaikovsky) - Dancing faeries, mushrooms, and flowers, including Cossack thistles
The Sorcerer's Apprentice (Dukas) - Mickey Mouse gets in trouble with a hat and a broom and two buckets
Rite of Spring (Stravinsky, the only living composer at the time the film was made) - the creation of the earth, the first living things, and then the rise and fall of the dinosaurs

Intermission

The Pastoral Symphony (Beethoven) - Centaurs, Bacchus, and Zeus, all frolicking in the glen (you know how centaurs are)
Dance of the Hours (Ponchielli) - I almost credited this music to Allan Sherman. In any case, hippos in tutus dance with crocodiles
Night on Bald Mountain (Moussorgsky) - Satan and his minions up to no good
Ave Maria (Schubert) - the light defeats the darkness

And then the film ends. No room for applause, closing credits, nothing. In fact, the only credits at all are on the card during the intermission.

My favorite Disney film, looking and sounding marvelous: I think Disney's greatest achievement, and a worthy successor to all the gorgeous Silly Symphonies his team had been making over the past decade.

Million-dollar Introduction:
Mr. Taylor: "It's funny how wrong an artist can be about his own work. The one composition of Tchaikovsky's that he really detested was his Nutcracker Suite, which is probably the most popular thing he ever wrote."

There isn't a bad segment in the darn thing, and every time I dust off the Blu-ray, it's an event in my house. The film has been monkeyed with many times over the years; more than a half-hour cut out of it for re-releases, and in 1977 Deems Taylor was cut out of it, the narration re-recorded, and worst of all, the soundtrack completely rerecorded with a new orchestra. There has even been a belated sequel, Fantasia 2000 (which I liked, too). Currently, the home video version is, I believe, as close to the original roadshow as we can get (with a couple of snips to remove a racially-stereotyped Negro centaur) and the 1977 monkey business gone.

Fantasia didn't find it's audience in 1940; the foreign markets were for the most part closed, and the roadshow version only played in about a dozen cities. It wasn't until its 50 year anniversary re-release that it seems to have been recognized as the stellar achievement that it is. Back in the day, though, Disney cut way back on expenses and re-fashioned his next two planned releases, Bambi and Dumbo, to reflect the economic realities of his studio and the times. He also decided to produce a relatively inexpensive live-action/cartoon hybrid to bring in some needed cash.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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