- Fantasia (film)
Theatrical release poster
Directed by see below Produced by Walt Disney Written by Joe Grant
Narrated by Deems Taylor Starring Leopold Stokowski
The Philadelphia Orchestra
Music by 'see below Cinematography James Wong Howe Studio Walt Disney Productions Distributed by Walt Disney Productions
RKO Radio Pictures
Release date(s) November 13, 1940 Running time 125 minutes Country United States Language English Budget $2.28 million Box office $76,408,097
Fantasia is a 1940 American animated film produced by Walt Disney and released by Walt Disney Productions. The third feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film consists of eight animated segments set to pieces of classical music conducted by Leopold Stokowski, seven of which are performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra. Music critic and composer Deems Taylor introduces each segment in live-action interstitial scenes.
Disney settled on the film's concept as work neared completion on The Sorcerer's Apprentice, an elaborate Silly Symphonies short designed as a comeback role for Mickey Mouse who had declined in popularity. As production costs grew higher than what it could earn, he decided to include the short in a feature-length film with other segments set to classical pieces. The soundtrack was recorded using multiple audio channels and reproduced with Fantasound, a pioneering sound reproduction system that made Fantasia the first commercial film shown in stereophonic sound.
Fantasia was first released in theatrical roadshow engagements held in thirteen U.S. cities from November 13, 1940. It received mixed critical reaction, and was unable to make a profit due to World War II cutting off the profitable European market and the high roadshow overhead costs from leasing theatres and installing the Fantasound equipment. The film was subsequently reissued multiple times with its original footage and audio being deleted, modified, or restored in each version. Fantasia has grossed $76.4 million in domestic revenue and is the 22nd highest-grossing film of all time in the U.S. when adjusted for inflation. Walt's nephew Roy E. Disney co-produced a sequel released in 1999 titled Fantasia 2000.
- 1 Program
- 2 Production
- 3 Release history
- 4 Reception
- 5 Additional material
- 6 Legacy
- 7 Credits
- 8 References
- 9 Sources
- 10 External links
The program as presented in the 1940 roadshow version.
- Introduction: Live-action photography of members of the orchestra gathering and tuning their instruments. Deems Taylor joins the orchestra to introduce the film's program.
- Toccata and Fugue in D Minor: Live-action shots of the orchestra illuminated in blue and gold, backed by superimposed shadows. The number segues into abstract animated patterns, lines, shapes and cloud formations.
- Nutcracker Suite: A selection of pieces from the ballet depicts the changing of the seasons from summer to autumn to winter. A variety of dances are presented with fairies, fish, flowers, mushrooms, and leaves, including "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy", "Chinese Dance", "Dance of the Flutes", "Arabian Dance", "Russian Dance" and "Waltz of the Flowers".
- The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Based on Goethe's 1797 poem Der Zauberlehrling. Mickey Mouse, an apprentice of sorcerer Yen Sid, attempts some of his master's magic tricks before knowing how to control them.
- The Rite of Spring: A visual history of the Earth's beginnings is depicted to selected sections of the ballet, from the planet's formation to the first living creatures, followed by the reign and extinction of the dinosaurs.
- Intermission/Meet the Soundtrack: The musicians depart and the Fantasia title card is revealed. After the intermission there is a brief jam session of jazz music led by the clarinettist as the orchestra members return. Then a humorously stylized demonstration of how sound is rendered on film is shown, where the sound track "character", initially a straight white line, changes into different shapes and colors based on the sounds played.
- The Pastoral Symphony: A mythical ancient Greek world of centaurs, cupids, fauns and other figures from classical mythology. A gathering for a festival to honor Bacchus, the god of wine, is interrupted by Zeus who creates a storm and throws lightning bolts at the attendees.
- Dance of the Hours: A comic ballet featuring Madame Upanova and her ostriches (Morning); Hyacinth Hippo and her servants (Afternoon); Elephanchine and her bubble-blowing elephant troupe (Evening); and Ben Ali Gator and his troop of alligators (Night). The finale sees all the characters dancing together until the palace collapses.
- Night on Bald Mountain and Ave Maria: At midnight the devil Chernabog summons evil spirits and restless souls from their graves. The spirits dance and fly through the air until driven back by the sound of an Angelus bell as night fades into dawn. A chorus is heard singing Ave Maria as a line of robed monks is depicted walking with lighted torches through a forest and into the ruins of a cathedral.
Walt Disney's cartoon character Mickey Mouse entered a period of decline in the 1930s. His popularity fell behind Donald Duck, Goofy and in some opinion polls, behind Popeye of Fleischer Studios. In early 1937, Disney decided to feature Mickey in a comeback Silly Symphony cartoon based on Goethe's ballad Der Zauberlehrling set to the music of L'apprenti sorcier, a symphonic poem by Paul Dukas based on the same story. He obtained the rights to use the music by the end of July, and considered using a well-known conductor to score the piece. The first choice was Arturo Toscanini, but the decision was changed when Leopold Stokowski agreed to take on the job. Disney met Stokowski in late 1937 at Chasen's, a noted Hollywood restaurant. The conductor offered his services at no charge. He also suggested the idea of a film that illustrated various selections of classical music, to which Disney passed on. Stokowski was nonetheless "thrilled at the idea" of recording for Disney, and a synopsis of the story was given to each of the 700 studio staff, who were encouraged to give their suggestions. Disney expressed his wish to use "the finest men in the plant, from color men down to animators" on the short. Ideas surfaced to have Dopey from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the starring role, but Disney insisted upon using Mickey.
On the night of January 9, 1938, over 100 musicians gathered at Culver Studios, California to record The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Animation for the short began on January 21, and in keeping with the project's ambitious efforts, animator Fred Moore redesigned Mickey by adding pupils to his eyes for greater expression. It became clearer to Disney when costs surpassed $125,000 that as a cartoon short, he could not make the same amount back from revenue. He reconsidered Stokowski's idea to expand the cartoon into a feature-length film, and work began on what was first titled The Concert Feature in February 1938. The idea was to incorporate The Sorcerer's Apprentice as well as "a group of separate numbers, regardless of their running time, put together in a single presentation". Disney hoped the concept would attract a wider audience into classical music. "This film is going to open this kind of music to a lot of people like myself who've walked out on this kind of stuff", he said in a story meeting. Its eventual title was declared by Stokowski, who described what was in the making a "Fantasia", pronounced "fan-ta-zee-ah". Composer, music critic and radio personality Deems Taylor agreed to serve as a technical advisor and to provide narrative introductions for each segment.
The musical pieces in Fantasia were selected during a three-week conference held in September 1938 among Disney, Stokowski, Taylor, and writers Joe Grant and Dick Huemer. Ideas on possible storylines were discussed with stenographers recording each conversation verbatim, after which each participant would receive a copy for review before the next day's meeting. As music selections were being considered for the film, a recording of the piece was brought in for playing amongst the group. Taylor's suggestion to include The Rite of Spring was agreed upon after Disney enquired about a piece to "build something of a prehistoric theme...with prehistoric animals". By the end of the engagements, it was decided to include the pieces seen in the final film plus Cydalise et le Chèvre-pied by Gabriel Pierné and Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy. When Taylor returned to the studios to review the film's progress in May 1939, Clair de Lune had been removed from the program and Cydalise was replaced with Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony due to problems with fitting a story to the music, a change that Taylor had welcomed.
Design and animation
During the production of Fantasia, segments would be color-keyed scene by scene so the colors in a single shot would harmonize between proceeding and following ones. Prior to the completion of the narrative pattern of a segment, an overall color scheme was designed to the general mood of the music, and patterned to correspond with the development of the subject matter.
From November 1938 to October 1939, artist Oskar Fischinger worked on the Toccata and Fugue. He was a pioneer in producing abstract animation set to music, but Disney felt his designs were too abstract for a mass audience. Fischinger left the studio in apparent disgust and despair, as he was not used to working in a group and with little control. Disney had plans to make the segment the first commercial 3-D film, with viewers being given glasses with their programs, but this idea was later abandoned. In The Nutcracker Suite, animator Art Babbitt is said to have credited Curly Howard from The Three Stooges as a guide for animating the dancing mushrooms in the Chinese Dance routine. An Arabian dancer was brought into the studios to study the movements for the goldfish in Arab Dance.
An early concept for The Rite of Spring was to extend the story from the first life forms on Earth up to the age of man, but it was curtailed by Disney to avoid religious controversy. To gain a better understanding of the history of the planet the studio received guidance from Roy Chapman Andrews, the director of the American Museum of Natural History, English biologist Julian Huxley, paleontologist Barnum Brown, and astronomer Edwin Hubble. Animators studied comets and nebulae at the Mount Wilson Observatory and observed a herd of iguanas and a baby alligator that were brought into the studios. Stravinsky was the only surviving composer featured in Fantasia during its development. He visited the studios in December 1939 to see The Sorcerer's Apprentice, hear Stokowski's arrangement of The Rite of Spring and view the sketches, storyboards, and models for the segment.
For inspiration on the routines in Dance of the Hours, animators studied real life ballet performers including Marge Champion and Irina Baronova. Béla Lugosi, best known for his role in Dracula, was brought in to provide reference poses for Chernabog. As animator Bill Tytla disliked the results, he used colleague Wilfred Jackson to pose shirtless which gave him the images he needed.
The Ave Maria segment was to provide "an emotional relief to audiences tense from the shock of Mussorgsky's malignant music and its grim visualization." Its sequence was designed for the studios' multiplane camera, which provides the illusion of depth to the 2-D drawings. Fantasia used more multiplane footage than Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio combined. Ed Gershman, who worked on the segment, described how the animation of the procession figures was so closely drawn, "a difference in the width of a pencil line was more than enough to cause jitters, not only to the animation, but to everyone connected with the sequence." Disney ordered many time-consuming and expensive reshots. A horizontal camera crane was built that could accommodate pictures four feet wide on panes of glass that were mounted on moveable stands, so they could be placed out of the way as the camera progressed through the film. Workers shot for six days and six nights, only to find the camera had the wrong lens in. They shot again for three days and nights before a small earthquake had rocked the wooden stands holding the glass panes. They restarted once more, and completed filming with one day to spare until the premiere. On the day of release, the last piece of film arrived in New York with four hours to spare.
Soundtrack recording and reproduction
Stokowski signed an eighteen-month contract with Disney to conduct the remaining pieces for Fantasia in January 1939. Disney wished to develop the concept of presenting sound further, and along with Stokowski, adopted a new approach to sound recording and reproduction techniques. "We know...that music emerging from one speaker behind the screen sounds thin, tinkly and strainy. We wanted to reproduce such beautiful masterpieces...so that audiences would feel as though they were standing at the podium with Stokowski". Recording began in April 1939 and lasted for seven weeks with the Philadelphia Orchestra, which Stokowski had directed from 1912 to 1938. The orchestra's home at the Academy of Music concert hall in Philadelphia was the chosen venue because of its good acoustics. Disney paid all the expenses of the rehearsals and recordings including the wages of the musicians, stage hands, a music librarian, and the orchestra's manager at a cost close to $18,000.
In the recording sessions, 33 microphones were placed around the orchestra to capture the music which was transferred onto nine optical track machines located in the hall's basement. Six of the sound channels focused on a different section of the orchestra that provided an audio "close-up" of instruments – cellos and basses, violins, violas, brass, woodwinds and tympani – while the seventh recorded a mixture of the first six, and the eighth captured the overall sound at a distance. The ninth channel was used to provide a click-track function for animators to time their drawings to the music. In the 42 days of recording, exactly 483,000 feet of film was used, which was shipped to the Disney studios in Burbank, California for tone adjustments.
Led by William E. Garity, engineers at Disney and RCA devised a pioneering audio reproduction system named Fantasound that made Fantasia the first commercial film to be shown in stereophonic sound. The nine tracks recorded at the Academy were mixed onto four master tracks – three for the music, voices and special effects and the fourth for volume control of the first three. To create the illusion of moving sound, a device named the "pan pot" was built to allow sound to progressively travel across a left, centre, and right speaker configuration using constant output fades. Additional speakers were installed around the venue to achieve a surround sound effect. The movement of the sound channels was initially under manual control until a more sophisticated set-up performed the task automatically, which used a mechanical relay system operated by means of notches cut into the edge of the film. Disney was an early customer for the newly-established Hewlett-Packard company when it ordered eight of its oscillators to test its sound systems. Fantasound marked a number of innovations in its development including the click track, overdubbing and simultaneous multi-track recording. Almost a fifth of the film's budget was spent on musical recording techniques.
Roadshow with Fantasound (1940–1941)
Fantasia debuted as a roadshow theatrical release presented by the Walt Disney Company itself. A roadshow presentation consisted of a limited run, usually at a playhouse rather than a movie theater, with reserved seats, advance sale tickets, and only two shows a day (matinee and evening). The premiere was held at the Broadway Theatre in New York City on November 13, 1940. The two-hour, twenty-minute film included a fifteen-minute intermission, and a program booklet illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa was given to audience members. Proceeds made on the opening night went to the British War Relief Society for the efforts in the Battle of Britain. Fantasia ran at the Broadway Theatre for forty-nine consecutive weeks, the longest record for any sound film at the time. Its run ended on February 28, 1942 for a total of fifty-seven weeks and over a thousand screenings.
Twelve additional roadshows were held across the United States in 1941 which included a thirty-nine week run at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles between January and October, where Fantasia broke the long-run record at the venue in its twenty-eighth week; a record previously held by Gone with the Wind. The eight-week run at the Fulton Theatre in Pittsburgh attracted over 50,000 people, with reservations being made from cities located 100 miles from the venue. The remaining engagements were held at the Majestic Theatre in Boston, the Geary Theatre in San Francisco, the Hanna Theatre in Cleveland (nine weeks), and in Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Buffalo, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.
As many as eighty-eight roadshows were outlined across five years, but the number of Fantasound systems that could be built were limited due to demands for radio equipment from the Department of Defense. The first eleven engagements had earned $1.3 million by April 1941, though the $85,000 needed for the production and installation of a single Fantasound setup, along with Disney having to lease theaters, was too costly. The onset of the Second World War had cut off the profitable European market, which formed 45% of the studio's income, contributed to the commercial failure of Fantasia in its opening release. The studio's combined average receipts from each roadshow was reported to be around $315,000.
RKO mono edition (1942, 1946)
In April 1941, Disney's usual distributor, RKO Radio Pictures acquired the distribution rights of Fantasia. All but one of the Fantasound systems were dismantled and contributed to the war effort, and Fantasia made its wide release in 1942 as a double feature with Valley of the Sun in a mono soundtrack and its duration cut to 81 minutes. This shortened version of Fantasia omits most of the live-action interstitials as well as the entire Toccata and Fugue segment. 
Disney at this point started to see Fantasia as a mistake. "We all make mistakes. Fantasia was one but it was an honest mistake. I shall now rededicate myself to my old ideals." The roadshow version continued to screen in select theatres at more popular prices for a limited time. In 1944, Taylor's narration was translated for a projected release in Germany.
In 1946 the film was reissued in what would be its standard form for the next few decades. All of the musical segments were restored, but the original narration and live-action elements were condensed. The soundtrack was in standard mono.
Stereo widescreen edition (1956, 1963)
By 1955, the original audio negatives stored on nitrate film had deteriorated, but a four-track nitrate print had survived in good condition. Using the remaining Fantasound system at the Disney studios in Burbank, California, a three-track copy was made onto magnetic film across telephone wires to an RCA facility in Hollywood.
Fantasia was first released in Superscope, a derivative of the anamorphic widescreen CinemaScope format with stereo sound, in 1956 at the Trans-Lux Normandie Theatre in New York City. The film was released by Buena Vista, Disney's own distribution company. An automatic motor-driven control mechanism designed by Disney engineers was coupled to a variable anamorphic lens, which allowed the picture to switch between its standard aspect ratio of 1.33:1 to the wide ratio of 2.35:1 in 20 seconds, without a break in the film. This was achieved by placing the cues that controlled the mechanism on the fourth track, while the first three contained the film's soundtracks. Only selected parts of the animated segments were stretched, with all live-action scenes unchanged. The Superscope issue received some criticism from audience members, who complained about the cropping of the picture. Fantasia was re-released in 1963.
"The ultimate trip" (1969, 1977)
Fantasia started to make a profit from its $2.28 million budget after its 1969 reissue. The film was popular among teenagers and college students, some of whom were reported to have taken drugs while viewing the film for a psychedelic experience. Disney promoted the film using a psychedelic-styled advertising campaign. The Miami News advertised the film as "The old Disney favorite re-released for the new audience. The ultimate trip". Fantasia was reissued once more with simulated stereo sound, in 1977.
Digital soundtrack (1982, 1985)
For the 1982 re-release, the 1956 sound master was deemed both unusable and unsalvageable. Disney spent $1 million in March 1982 to re-record Fantasia's score for a new soundtrack using Dolby digital stereo technology. Conductor Irwin Kostal directed a 125-piece orchestra for the recording. This marked the first time a motion picture's score was digitally recorded in its entirety. The live-action narrative sequences were cut and shorter voice-over introductions were recorded by Hugh Douglas. In Los Angeles, Fantasia took in $38,000 at a single theatre in three days. The 1982 version was re-released to around 400 theatres nationwide in 1985, this time with actor Tim Matheson providing the narration.
Film restoration (1990)
Fantasia returned to 550 theatres nationwide for its 50th anniversary on October 5, 1990. The film underwent a two-year restoration process, where Disney and YCM Laboratories spent six months piecing together the original 1940 negative that had been kept in storage since 1946. A further six months were used to clean each of the film's 535,680 frames, with an untouched Technicolor print from 1951 was used for guidance on color and tone. This marked the first time since 1946 that a release of Fantasia came from the original negative, and not from a duplicate. Disney placed various technical requirements on theatres, including to present the film in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, masked by black borders on the side of the cinema screen. Theatres were also required to have a specific stereo sound system installed. Taylor's introductions were also restored as was the Stokowski soundtrack that was remastered from the four-track magnetic copy made in 1956. An estimated 3,000 pops and hisses were removed the restoration process. The 1990 reissue earned $25 million in gross revenue. This was the film's last general theatrical release to date.
Disneyland Records released a three-LP set of the Stokowski score in 1957 under the catalog number WDX-101. The soundtrack was remastered and issued as a two-disc CD in 1991 which attracted sales of 100,000 units  and was re-released in 2006. In 1982, Buena Vista Records released a two-disc edition of the Kostal recording.
Fantasia has received three home video releases. The first, featuring the 1990 restored theatrical version, was released on VHS and laser disc on November 1, 1991 as part of the "Walt Disney Classics" line. The 50-day release prompted 9.25 million advance orders for cassettes and a record 200,000 for discs, doubling the figure of the previous record. The "Deluxe Edition" package included the film, a "making of" feature, a commemorative lithograph, a 16-page booklet, a two-disc soundtrack of the Stokowski score and a certificate of authenticity signed by Roy E. Disney, the nephew of Walt. Fantasia became the biggest-selling sell-through cassette of all time with 14.2 million copies being purchased. The record was surpassed by Beauty and the Beast in December 1992. This version was also released as a DVD in 2000, outside of the U.S. in the United Kingdom and other countries, again under the "Walt Disney Classics" banner.
In November 2000, Fantasia was released on video for the second time, this time along with Fantasia 2000, on DVD with 5.1 surround sound. The films were issued both separately and in a three-disc set called The Fantasia Anthology. A variety of bonus features were included in the bonus disc, The Fantasia Legacy. Fantasia included restored live action scenes from the original roadshow version not seen since 1941. The 2000 UK release, however, was in the 1991 video version.
Both films were reissued again by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment in November 2010 as a two-disc DVD set (two-disc Blu-ray in the UK) and a combined DVD and Blu-ray four-disc set that boasted 1080p high-definition video and 7.1 surround sound. This latest edition included additional restored live-action footage, making it the most nearly complete recreation of the original roadshow version yet attempted. In the 2000 and 2010 releases Deems Taylor's voice has been overdubbed throughout by Corey Burton because most of the audio tracks to Taylor's restored scenes have been lost. Fantasia was withdrawn from release and returned to the "Disney Vault" moratorium on April 30, 2011.
Among those at the film's premiere was film critic Bosley Crowther of The New York Times, who noted that "motion history was made last night...Fantasia dumps conventional formulas overboard and reveals the scope of films for imaginative excursion...Fantasia...is simply terrific." Peyton Boswell, an editor at Art Digest, called it "an aesthetic experience never to be forgotten." Time magazine thought the premiere was "stranger and more wonderful than any of Hollywood's", and described the experience of Fantasound "as if the hearer were in the midst of the music. As the music sweeps to a climax, it froths over the proscenium arch, boils into the rear of the theatre, all but prances up and down the aisles." Dance Magazine devoted its lead story to the film, saying that "the most extraordinary thing about Fantasia is, to a dancer or balletomane, not the miraculous musical recording, the range of color, or the fountainous integrity of the Disney collaborators, but quite simply the perfection of its dancing." Variety also hailed Fantasia, calling it "a successful experiment to life the relationship from the plane of popular, mass entertainment to the higher strata of appeal to lovers of classical music."
Those who adopted a more negative view at the time of the film's release were mostly music critics who resisted the idea of presenting classical music with visual images. Composer and music critic Virgil Thomson praised Fantasound which he thought offered "good transmission of music", but disliked the "musical taste" of Stokowski, with exception to The Sorcerer's Apprentice and The Rite of Spring. Olin Downes of The New York Times too hailed the quality of sound that Fantasound presented, but felt that "much of Fantasia distracted from or directly injured the scores." Film critic Pauline Kael dismissed parts of Fantasia as "grotesquely kitschy".
Fantasia holds a "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a website which aggregates film reviews. Its consensus — "A landmark in animation and a huge influence on the medium of music video, Disney's Fantasia is a relentlessly inventive blend of the classics with phantasmagorical images". 98% of critics gave the film a positive review based on a sample of 48 reviews, with an average score of 8.6 out of 10. Among the website's "top critics" it holds a positive rating of 86% from seven reviews. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times rated the film four stars out of four, and noted that throughout Fantasia, "Disney pushes the edges of the envelope".
Remarks have also been made about Fantasia not being a children's film. Reporting on the popular culture site Inside Pulse and in The Eagle newspaper, Robert Saucedo remembered to be "not the only one...having to sit through the movie as a kid fidgeting in your seat as the film delivers abstract image after abstract image", concluding that Fantasia is "for adults and very nerdy kids," while news and gossip website PopSugar included Fantasia in its "10 Movies That Scared Buzz Readers as Kids" list. Paul Trandahl of the non-profit advocacy group Common Sense Media, referred to both of the aforementioned criticism, saying "While there are enchanting dancing flowers, hippos, unicorns,...there are at least as many very threatening images intensified by the shadowy dark music" and that "some additional selections...are very long, slow and may not fully engage today’s kids", with the site giving the film an 'Ages 6 and Up' rating.
Awards and honors
Fantasia ranked fifth at the 1940 National Board of Review Awards in the Top Ten Films category. Disney and Stokowski won a Special Award for the film at the 1940 New York Film Critics Circle Awards. Fantasia was the subject of two Academy Honorary Awards on February 26, 1942 — one for Disney, William Garity, John N. A. Hawkins and the RCA Manufacturing Company for their "outstanding contribution to the advancement of the use of sound in motion pictures through the production of Fantasia", and the other to Stokowski "and his associates for their unique achievement in the creation of a new form of visualized music in Walt Disney's production Fantasia, thereby widening the scope of the motion picture as entertainment and as an art form".
In 1990, Fantasia for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". On the 100th anniversary of cinema in 1995, the Vatican included Fantasia in its list of 45 "great films"made under the art category; the others being religion and values.
Fantasia is featured in three lists that rank the greatest American films as determined by the American Film Institute. Fantasia ranked #58 in 100 Years... 100 Movies in 1998 before it was dropped from its 10th Anniversary revision in 2007, though it was nominated for inclusion. The 10 Top 10 list formed in 2008 placed Fantasia fifth under Animation.
In the late 1960s, four short scenes from The Pastoral Symphony were removed that depicted two characters in a racially stereotyped manner. A black female centaur called Sunflower was depicted polishing the hooves of a white centaur, and a second named Otika appeared briefly during the procession scenes with Bacchus and his followers. According to Disney archivist David Smith, the sequence was aired uncut on television in 1966 before the edits were made for the film's 1969 theatrical reissue. John Carnochan, the editor responsible for the change in the 1991 video release, said "It's sort of appalling to me that these stereotypes were ever put in". Film critic Roger Ebert commented on the edit – "While the original film should, of course, be preserved for historical purposes, there is no need for the general release version to perpetrate racist stereotypes in a film designed primarily for children." The edits have been in place in all subsequent theatrical and home video reissues.
In May 1992, the Philadelphia Orchestra filed a lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company and Buena Vista Home Video. The orchestra maintained that as a co-creator of Fantasia, the group was entitled to half of the estimated $120 million in profits from video and laser disc sales. The orchestra dropped its case in 1994 when the two parties reached an undisclosed settlement out of court. British music publisher Boosey & Hawkes filed a further lawsuit in 1993, contending that Disney did not have the rights to distribute The Rite of Spring in the 1991 VHS home video release because the permission granted to Disney by Stravinsky in 1940 was only in the context of a film to be shown in theaters. The United States district court backed Boosey & Hawkes's case in 1996, but the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the ruling in 1998, stating that Disney's original "license for motion picture rights extends to video format distribution."
Disney had wanted Fantasia to be an ongoing project, with a new edition being released every few years. His plan was to substitute one of the original segments with a new one as it was complete, so the viewer would always see a new version of the film. From January to August 1941, story material was developed based on additional pieces, including Ride of the Valkyries by Richard Wagner, The Swan of Tuonela by Jean Sibelius, Invitation to the Dance by Carl Maria von Weber, Flight of the Bumblebee by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, which was later adapted into the Bumble Boogie segment in Melody Time (1948), and there was even consideration for a segment inspired by the Polka and Fugue from Schwanda the Bagpiper by Jaromír Weinberger. The film's disappointing initial box office performance and the advent of World War II brought an end to these plans. Taylor had prepared introductions for The Firebird by Stravinsky, La Mer by Claude Debussy, Adventures in a Perambulator by John Alden Carpenter, Don Quixote by Richard Strauss, and Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky "to have them for the future in case we decided to make any one of them".
Clair de Lune was another segment that was part of the film's original program. After being completely animated, it was cut out of the final film to shorten its already long running time. The segment featured two egrets flying through the Everglades on a moonlit night. The sequence was later edited and re-scored for the Blue Bayou segment in Make Mine Music (1946). A workprint of the original was discovered and Clair de Lune was restored in 1992, complete with the original soundtrack of Stokowski with the Philadelphia Orchestra. It was included as a bonus feature in The Fantasia Anthology DVD in 2000.
In 1980, the Los Angeles Times reported that animators Woolie Reitherman and Mel Shaw had begun work on Musicana, "an ambitious concept mixing jazz, classical music, myths, modern art and more, following the old Fantasia format." Animation historian Charles Solomon wrote that development took place between 1982 and 1983, which combined "ethnic tales from around the world with the music of the various countries". Proposed segments for the film included a battle between an ice god and a sun goddess set to Finlandia by Sibelius, one set in the Andes to the songs of Yma Sumac, and another featuring caricatures of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. The project was shelved in favor of Mickey's Christmas Carol.
Roy E. Disney, the nephew of Walt, co-produced Fantasia 2000 which entered production in 1990 and features seven new segments performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with conductor James Levine. The Sorcerer's Apprentice is the only segment retained from the original film. Fantasia 2000 premiered at Carnegie Hall on December 17, 1999 as part of a five-city live concert tour, followed by a four-month engagement in IMAX cinemas and a wide release in regular theatres, in 2000.
Parodies and spin-offs
Fantasia is parodied in A Corny Concerto, a Warner Bros. cartoon from 1943 of the Merrie Melodies series. The short features Elmer Fudd in the role of Taylor, wearing his styled eyeglasses, who introduces two segments set to pieces by Johann Strauss. In 1976, Italian animator Bruno Bozzetto produced Allegro Non Troppo, a feature-length parody of Fantasia. Walt Disney Pictures used the story of The Sorcerer's Apprentice as a basis for its eponymous fantasy-adventure film in 2010.
The Sorcerer's Hat is the icon of Disney's Hollywood Studios, one of the four theme parks located at Walt Disney World Resort. The structure is of the magic hat from The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Also located at the resort is Fantasia Gardens, a miniature golf course that integrates characters and objects from the film in each hole. The fireworks and water show Fantasmic! features scenes from The Sorcerer's Apprentice and other Fantasia segments on water projection screens, and involves the plot of Mickey as the apprentice doing battle with the Disney Villains.
In 1991, a side-scrolling eponymous video game developed by Infogrames was released for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis system. The player controls Mickey Mouse, who must find missing musical notes scattered across four elemental worlds based upon the film's segments.
The Disney/Square Enix crossover game series Kingdom Hearts features Chernabog as a boss in the first installment. The Night on Bald Mountain piece is played during the fight. In Kingdom Hearts II, Yen Sid is given a speaking role and is voiced in English by Corey Burton. Yen Sid also appears in Epic Mickey, a game released in 2010 for the Wii console, and Chernabog makes a cameo appearance in the form of a painting.
Segment Personnel Live-action scenes Toccata and Fugue in D Minor Nutcracker Suite The Sorcerer's Apprentice The Rite of Spring Intermission/Meet the Soundtrack The Pastoral Symphony Dance of the Hours Night on Bald Mountain and Ave Maria
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- Fantasia at the Internet Movie Database
- Fantasia at the TCM Movie Database
- Fantasia at AllRovi
- Fantasia at Rotten Tomatoes
- Fantasia at Box Office Mojo
- Fantasia at the Big Cartoon DataBase
Disney's Fantasia Films
- Fantasia (1940)
- Fantasia 2000 (1999)
Conductors Related Segments from Fantasia Segments from Fantasia 2000 Characters AFI's 10 Top 10 Animation Fantasy Gangster Science Fiction Western Sports Mystery Romantic Comedy Courtroom Drama Epic
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