The first shot reminds me of the first shot in Mulholland Drive, which is funny since there’s sexuality, fear, mortality, cynicism and a bit of humour in that movie and here in Fantasia. My friends first saw this when they were four and I saw this last week. I can only imagine a few kids getting confused with what they see here. Well, I am more susceptible to trauma and have a dirtier mind now than I did when I was a kid.
I thought that the faeries dancing to “The Nutcracker Suite” were the most famous images in this movie, but apparently it’s the warlock horror narrative in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” – I swear I’ve never seen that one before and it’s a nail-biter. Henry Allen writes about how Fantasia in 1940 preceded and is the polar opposite to the weary American attitude towards science and high culture. I do think that “Apprentice” shows how innovation can go too far and have the destructive result that its inventor didn’t want. There is also a more popular segment with dancing hippos that I didn’t care so much about.
I also encountered the music here in other sources – Beethoven’s Pastoral in some compilation CD. Stravinsky’s “Le Sacre du Printemps” in high school and Schubert’s “Ave Maria” when I was going through a soprano phase when I was in high school. Just so we’re clear, Alex North and everyone else after him owes Stravinsky a royalty cheque. Watching “Printemps” with dinosaurs was a weird concept to me, especially since I’m more familiar with that ballet’s later movements. To me, that final music’s always been about violence surrounded by beauty, and Walt Disney and his interns made it look like apocalypse. Well, what do I know? Other choreographers like Nijinsky/Dominique Brun and Pina Bausch have more violent interpretations of the music. And again, the fear that what happened to the dinosaurs will happen to us. And the wind instruments in the later movements do remind me of arid landscapes. And I’ve always heard “Ave Maria” sung by either a boy/woman in German, not English. I also imagined it to me like a little voice trying to climb into a space above, preferably a church, which I guess mostly matches Disney’s visuals. But I couldn’t say that what I saw didn’t dazzle me. The animators went all out and an extra mile, animating images they’ll never show elsewhere. And I kinda wanna know what they would have done if they did “Swan Lake.”