Fantasia is pure music and pure cinema

“Fantasia” is one of only three Disney films to make the American Film Institute list of the 100 greatest American films of the 20th century, the other two being “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and (in the update 21st century list) “Toy Story.” Beyond that, it is on the National Film Registry and is also one of the highest-grossing films of all time when adjusted for inflation.

The film, overseen by Walt Disney himself, quickly throws down the musical gauntlet, as the live shadows of the orchestra members on a blue background give way to hand-drawn visuals, almost like screen savers. , flowing to the tune of Bach’s Toccata. and Fugue in D minor. In 1957, Captain Nemo (James Mason) played this same piece of music on the organ aboard the Nautilus submarine in Disney’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

The effect, Deems explains, is to segue into the film with “the image of various abstract images that might cross your mind if you were sitting in a concert hall listening to this music.” Suffice to say, “Fantasia” doesn’t follow conventional Disney narrative patterns. That’s what makes it appealing to anyone looking for a change of pace from princesses with animal sidekicks.

There are still plenty of animals in “Fantasia,” but they’re not the talkative type. In fact, outside of the interludes with Deem, there’s no talking at all in “Fantasia.”

It reminds me of this quote from Alfred Hitchcock: “When the screenplay has been written and the dialogues have been added, we are ready to shoot.” Mickey wasn’t so far removed from the silent movie era and his own first adventure in “Steamboat Willie,” but his popularity had waned since 1928, and “Fantasia” was a kind of near-silent comeback for him, like Elvis in Vegas. but with a joystick instead of a microphone stand.

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