The third movie in the Disney Animated Canon is the first real experiment. It is Fantasia, a collection of symphonic pieces put to cartoons. Although this feel like it would hold up better than outdated children’s stories, I feel it did not.
The animation from Fantasia is a mixed bag at best. Some of the segments (Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Dance of the Hours) are well defined and have their own color palette. Other segments go back to the style of soft colors and washed out backgrounds.
The music is wonderful. It is essentially a two-hour symphony playing a selection of “best of” pieces. This is also where it appears Disney learned how to truly match music to pictures. Before this music helped set mood and followed the storyline, but Fantasia is where the music starts to synchronize with the animation. At times, each note seems to have an on-screen pairing.
Story is where Fantasia truly falls apart. They tell you right at the beginning that much of the music will not tell a story and therefore the animation is some abstract reimagining of the song. Others tell a story and are entertaining, but before each piece the conductor explains the music and the accompanying animation. This leads us to know the entire story before it is played out before our eyes and therefore much less impactful. There is also an intermission where we watch the band get up and take a break. With all this paired with the fact that this is still today the longest of the DAC, it is hard to recommend.
In the end this is an interesting idea and obviously very inspirational for some of Disney World’s live shows (specifically Fantasmic), but in the end as a film it is a collection of art. It is not so much a film that tells much of any narrative or holds any real surprise. It would be better put up against documentaries than fictional stories. Either way, it doesn’t hold up well as a single uninterrupted film.
Run Time – 126 Minutes
13th Academy Awards – 0 Nominations
Disney Animated Canon so far in order of Quality
1. Pinocchio 2-7-1940
2. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 12-21-1937
3. Fantasia 11-13-1940