In Disney’s extravaganza, eight fantastical vignettes are scored to music by Bach, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky.
Director: No less than 11 directors slaved on individual sequences, many without credit.
Best quote: ‘Mr Stokowski! Mr Stokowski!’
Defining moment: Sorcerer’s apprentice Mickey Mouse finds himself on the wrong end of the broomsticks.
By the end of the 1930s, Mickey Mouse, the bedrock character of a growing empire, had declined in popularity. So Walt Disney commissioned the elaborate short ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’. Accompanied by the highly hummable Paul Dukas composition of the same name, it follows the red-robed rodent as he magically brings an army of broomsticks to life. While in postproduction on the short, Disney decided to surround it with similar vignettes scored to other classical compositions, and ‘Fantasia’ was born.
Aside from some interstitial material narrated by Deems Taylor (during which Mickey himself greets star conductor Leopold Stokowski), the music dictates the visual-aural flow of ‘Fantasia’. Abstract colour patterns rise and fall to Bach, life-size mushrooms dance to Tchaikovksy, a hippo and an alligator do a slapstick Ponchielli ballet, and the devil himself summons dark spirits to Modest Mussorgsky’s churning ‘Night on Bald Mountain’.
Silly and sublime in equal measure – as well as a film that served to introduce generations of kids to the joys of classical music – this is one of the Mouse House’s finest. Keith Uhlich