Fantasia (1940)


Walt Disney gets back on track after what I consider a slip-up in Pinocchio. However, he doesn’t accomplish this by having an emotional story or appealing to the kids. In fact, any resemblance of a coherent plot is nowhere to be found in this one. Rather, Walt Disney decides to demonstrate the glimpses of talent we saw from the animators in Snow White and Pinocchio in a full two hour marathon of endlessly imaginative animation. While Disney usually hires an orchestra to play an original score composed by their staff, this time, they animate to the music of Bach, Tchaikovsky, and Schubert. This only raises the stakes since the phrasing and melodic lines of these classical music legends could easily overshadow any lacking animation.


The film opens with an orchestra walking in, and you already know that this movie is going to be different. Even the scenes that aren’t animated, such as this one, is artistic. The way the lighting is set up to produce humongous shadows on the back wall; the way the different hues of colors give a sense of ease; the way the orchestra warms up as they would in a real concert makes you extremely optimistic of what is to follow. There is a narrator who informs us of what piece the orchestra will be playing, and the sort of imagery we are to expect. This makes it so that every piece has a little break in between, which was good, but at the same time, I wish he was cut in the editing room. I mean, it wasn’t that important to me what song they were playing, and in a real orchestra concert, the program would inform its audiences of what songs were coming up. Nonetheless, he only takes up a small portion of the screen time, so I didn’t find him overly distracting.


All of the eight compositions were great selections. Any classical-music-savvy listener will surely enjoy the film just from an auditory standpoint—the orchestra sounds wonderful. The animation to go along with the eight pieces all had beautiful moments in them, but the one that impressed me the most starred Mickey Mouse and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas.

The imagery from this selection, and in fact, most of the entire movie, is unforgettable. At times, you forget that the animation was made for the music, and it feels like the music was made for the animation. That is how good the animation is, tricking you by perfectly capturing the large fortissimos to the little pianissimos, and the overall feel of the composition.


With all the compliments I have given the movie, it must be emphasized that this movie is not for everyone, and I fully acknowledge it. While someone like myself really enjoyed some big moments in the film, I did find myself bored in other spots. It’s one of those movies that you’ll fall asleep to if you don’t like attending orchestra concerts or exploring art museums, but I think everyone can agree that this is a beautifully-animated piece of artwork.


10 Replies to “Fantasia (1940)”

      1. my pleasure. I love Fantasia. there is some spectacular animation there. One day, who knows, you will review my films! I hope you will be kind!

  1. A masterpiece. Blows me away partly because it is so different. I sometimes watch it in pieces and I dont think there is anything wrong with that . I think a lot more kids would enjoy it if we took that approach. I have seen so many movies that to have something so unique gets extra brownie points.

    1. I’m curious as to what you think of Fantasia 2000. I haven’t gotten around to seeing it but it’s definitely less talked about than Fantasia. It seems to be because it’s not as good, but I’m wondering why people feel that way. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to figure out myself when I finally sit down to watch it.

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