Fantasia is a movie of animated beauty combining traditional animation with classical music. Outside of the host prior to each segment there’s no dialogue but each segment of the movie says so much. I’ve discussed Fantasia in length on this blog before but how do all the segments rank? Well this article takes a look at all seven of them.
7. The Pastoral Symphony
This one is lowest on the list because compared to the other segments this one felt more childish. As an avid reader of Greek and Roman mythology and with all the adult themes in the other segments this felt like a missed opportunity. The humor is mostly slapstick and the centaurs are reduced to just looking cute and pretty. The one thing that was cool was seeing Hephaestus forge lightning bolts for Zeus to throw at the attendees of a festival honoring Dionysus but it ends before it can become something more.
6. The Nutcracker Suite
This segment showcased some powerful emotion and beautiful imagery through the changing of the seasons, the fairies, the dancing, and the various parts of nature. The whole thing is a work of beauty in listening to it and the visuals but compared to a lot of the subsequent segments the beauty and emotion lies in more in what it shows than what it tells.
5. Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor
This segment is the opening piece of the movie and it basically represents what one might imagine when listening to this music for the first time. The segment does a good job of easing the viewer into the Fantasia experience by shifting from real instruments to images disguised as imagery before descending into abstract imagery completely. It’s a beautiful piece that helps establish the adult feel of the movie and its ambition.
4. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
This segment is actually how the whole idea for the movie started. Walt just wanted to do a short with Mickey Mouse as a magician. The music and imagery helps convey the charm of Mickey Mouse trying to be an expert magician like Yensid but also combines a mix of horror and humor in just how inexperienced he is. It’s horrifying in the way Mickey beats the crap out of the broom that endlessly keeps pouring water but hilarious in how it only results in several more coming back to continue the job capped off with Yensid cleaning up the mess angry at his apprentice but also amused. The way it’s animated through the expressions, colors, and shadows truly solidify the emotions through the whole thing.
3. Dance of the Hours
This segment is an enjoyable and humorous comic ballet showcasing the dancing of various animals. It was quite humorous and amusing in how the animals come together and think themselves as graceful and great dancers and the humor and amusement keeps building up towards the end. The fun of this segment not only builds up by itself but also helps set the stage for the dark and fearful final segment.
2. Rite of Spring
This scene has some powerful visuals and heavy storytelling in showing Earth’s beginning, the first living creatures, and the beginning and end of the age of the dinosaurs. It’s quite horrifying and devastating in seeing these powerful kings of Earth slowly meet their end to nature due to dehydration and starvation. There’s no real villain among the dinosaurs and the way it showcases the dinosaur life and death allows youngsters to draw their own conclusions from it even if they don’t fully understand. It’s an underrated and bold showing of early life (honestly it’s what Disney’s 2000’s Dinosaur ought to have been).
1. Night on Bald Mountain and Ave Maria
This final segment instills fear through bone chilling imagery in how the already sinister-looking Chernabog raises the dead and has them prey upon the village and joyously disposes of them by throwing them into a bottomless pit of fire or turning them into hideous beasts. And these demons are utterly helpless against their master. What really made this is that the imagery alone manages to convey its story. The music is amazing but even without it the weight of it all is still there. The Ave Maria segment is a perfect contrast to this perfectly synergizing good animation and music and is just so calming to listen and see after the storm. It’s emotion and beauty say so much through just its message of hope and life over death and despair.
How do you rank the Fantasia segments? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.