Today is Bonfire Night and the suggestion was Fantasia, the Disney animation from 1940. This is a film that I have seen many times before, particularly as a child and more recently during my recovery from my operation (so actually more than three years ago, gosh!), but decided it was worth watching again as it is entirely based around music and therefore good to have in the background to essay research.
The soundtrack to Fantasia was expertly chosen and contains the perfect mix of calm and exciting music to listen to as well as watch the beautiful animations that accompany it. I often think of it as the first introduction some children will have to classical music and the combination of works such as Bach’s Tocatta and Fugue, Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Ave Maria by Franz Schubert gives a small snapshot of the breadth of classical music out there for us to enjoy. Personally I enjoy the first two works the most and find The Sorcerer’s Apprentice quite annoying with it being the section that the film is most known for – and my dislike for Mickey Mouse and his stupidity in the story does not help matters either!
Anyone who has focused on listening to music will know that you create pictures in your mind upon listening, and Fantasia does a fantastic job of animating one such interpretation of what the pieces represent. Some of their stories verge on the absurd, such as the depiction of centaur family life to the sound of Beethoven, but the mystical world is brought to life none the less. However, the first piece (Tocatta and Fugue) does what I feel is the best job of depicting real orchestral music in action, incorporating aspects of the instruments into the animation and really drawing the viewer into the story and those to follow.
I was utterly captivated by both Fantasia and its sequel, Fantasia 2000, as a child, and although it has lost some of its charm as I have grown older, the original holds a special place in my heart, as well as obviously influencing the production of Fantasia 2000 which has only risen in my opinions due to the amazing music it contains and the familiarity I feel with pieces that I have now performed or heard performed.
An brilliant introduction to classical music with a creativity that only Disney could pull off, this is an almost unique musical production that should be experienced at least once by all. 3 stars.