Friday, September 16, 2011

Day Four - Fantasia

Movie: Fantasia
Formats Released: 1 VHS (plus Deluxe Edition packaging), 1 LaserDisc, 2 DVD, 1 Blu-Ray
Format Watched: Blu-Ray
Watched With: My Dog Belle and my cat Mike Wazowski
Snacks: Taco Flavored Doritos and Diet Barqs Root beer

I didn't know what to expect when I sat down to watch Fantasia last night. It is such a different movie from what came before of what came after that it's hard to compare to other Walt Disney Feature Animation films. It's like when an 1980's sitcom would do a "Very Special Episode" or when an action star does a family film, it's just different.

Walt wanted the film to be different, he wanted it to be an event. He allowed the film to go way over budget, he gave his animators almost free reign in terms of artistic license and color use. He developed a whole new sound system to showcase the films in the theaters. He wanted this film to make a mark and after 70 years I think it has.

My thoughts on the film:

The only thing I can really say about this film is that it's a work of art. All Disney animated films are art, but Fantasia was meant to be art from beginning to end. The film wants to transport the viewer into the concert hall for the performance. There is no opening title for the film, no overture, no credits, the film just opens with an opening curtain and the orchestra stepping out onto the stage. There is an intermission and the film ends with the last segment, there are no end credits.

Each individual segment is unique from the others in tone, animation and orchestration. New types of animation were developed, the use of chalk and pastels in the Nutcracker Suite and the 4 foot glass planes that were painted and used in Ave Maria.

The animators imagination was clearly at work. The idea to take a group of tribal dances that was the Rite of Spring and turn it into evolution of the Earth or to use alligators, hippopotamus, ostrich and elephants as ballet dancers is just amazing.

The soundtrack is just as important as the animation in this film. A fifth of the budget was spent on recording the soundtrack. A new type movie sound, Fantasound, was developed for this film to showcase the soundtrack. Fantasia was the first film to feature stereo sound, it was the first film to record multipart tracks for the soundtrack. To Walt Disney the music was the star of the film.

My Favorite Part of the Film:

It has to be the Pastoral Symphony segment. There is just something about this segment that is fun and carefree. There are technicolor flying horses and centaurs. There are flying babies playing matchmaker. There is a rotund, happy drunk riding a donkey unicorn. Try repeating those sentences without smiling. I love the music, it just very moving to me. I love the greek gods at the end. If one was looking for something that would guarantee that I would "get dust in my eye" every time I watched, one would have found it.

Final Thoughts:

This is not a children's movie and it bothers me that people would think that it is. Just because it is animated it does not automatically get relegated to the kids section. Just look at Heavy Metal to disprove that. This is a pure work of art, it pioneered new forms of animation, from chalk on paper to large glass plates. It was the very first movie to us stereo sound showing that what you heard was at least as important as what you see.

Walt Disney intended that this movie be constantly in production with new segments replacing old segments and that the movie would be continuously evolving. Based on what we have seen in this film, I would have loved to have seen what the animators could have come up with.

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