Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

US Animated Movie (1940). Disney. Production sv Ben Sharpsteen. Dir James Algar ("Sorcerer's Apprentice"), Samuel Armstrong ("Toccata and Fugue in D Minor", "Nutcracker Suite"), Ford Beebe, Jim Handley and Hamilton Luske ("Pastoral Symphony"), Norm Ferguson and T Hee (Walt Disney) ("Dance of the Hours"), Wilfred Jackson ("Night on Bald Mountain" and "Ave Maria"), Bill Roberts and Paul Satterfield ("Rite of Spring"). Voice actor Deems Taylor (narrator). 120 mins. Colour.

F grew from a meeting between Walt Disney and Leopold Stokowski (1887-1977). Initially Stokowski's collaboration was to be on a Disney Silly Symphony short based on Dukas's The Sorcerer's Apprentice (1897), but both men had a grander idea: a full-length feature-movie anthology of such extracts. The Dukas interpretation became perhaps F's most famous, with Mickey Mouse cast as the Sorcerer's Apprentice who disobeys his master Yen Sid ("Disney" backwards); originally Dopey (from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs [1937]) had been proposed for the role. Almost equally famous are sections based on: Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring (1913), with lumbering Dinosaurs; Modeste Moussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain (composed circa 1866), with Chernabog waking from the hillside to receive the worship of assorted Ghosts, ghouls, imps, etc.; and, for all the wrong reasons, Ludwig van Beethoven's 6th Symphony (1808), which has capering centaurs, over-cute Cupids and a rollicking Bacchus. In all instances the music was played by the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Stokowski.

F polarizes opinions, with some seeing it as crass and others as a masterpiece. Initially regarded as impossibly long by its distributors, RKO, F was cut for first release to 81 min and was not very successful. Among other bitternesses associated with the movie was Stravinsky's horror over unauthorized "improvements" made to his score. But during the 1960s a re-release brought F sudden popularity, its psychedelic Surrealism appealing to hippy culture. [JG]

further reading: Walt Disney's "Fantasia" (1983) by John Culhane.

see also: Allegro Non Troppo (1976).

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.