Sunday, April 21, 2013



Have you ever been in one of those exercises where you're suposed to close your eyes, listen to the music, and see where your mind takes you? Watching Fantasia is like going inside the mind of the Walt Disney Studios during one of these sessions.

Fantasia is the third feature film from Walt Disney, and the longest one, with 124 minutes (despite some of the songs being shortened for this movie). It is also the first movie (not just from Disney) to enjoy stereo sound (called Fantasound) which was developed specifically for this film. 

This time, I asked some friends to help illustrate some of the stories from the film.

The Nutcracker Suite by Piotr Ilich Tchaikovsky
For this segment there were lots of technological advances. Even special inks were developed. And if you look at the art, it is incredibly beautiful. Turned into a "Ballet of nature", the Nutcracker showcases many of Disneys' talents. From the fairies animated by Les Clark, the great personalities given to the dancing mushrooms (even though they have no faces), and even the special effects, this segment is practically perfect.

 Illustrated by Andrea Delgado

The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Paul Dukas
This story was the first one to developed by the studio, in an attempt to reestablish Mickey Mouse's popularity. So Mickey's design was changed (redesigned by Fred Moore), and his new personality was showcased in a story directed by Perce Pearce and Carl Fallberg, both known for their ability to develop characters with rich personalities. 
After creating The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Walt Disney thought it would be great to make a series of music inspired short films, and even dreamed of it becoming an ongoing project, creating short films every few years (which never happened, until the year 2000).

Illustrated by Aaron Martinez 

The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky
"Science, not art, wrote the scenario for this picture" is the introduction that Deems Taylor gives. To make the dinosaurs from this beautiful scene, paleontologists Barnum Brown and Chester Stock were invited as consultants, and this time the references where iguanas and baby alligators.
To give a realistic look to the erupting volcanoes, they actually built small volcano models and had them suspended in water tanks upside down. Dropping paint through the model volcanoes into the water gave the illusion of actual eruptions.

Illustrated by Demetrio GarcĂ­a

The Pastoral Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven
"The symphony that Beethoven called the Pastoral, his Sixth, is one of the few pieces of music he ever wrote that tells something like a definite story" Says Deems Taylor.
With Ollie Johnston's great centaur designs, The Pastoral Symphony is a crazy but beautiful story. Just look at the way it ends. One of the baby cupids' butt is shaped into a heart! Thats pretty awesome!

Illustrated (and embroidered) by Florencia Denti

Dance of the Hours by Amilcare Ponchielli
To get ideas for this segment, Walt took the animators to the Los Angeles Zoo. Even though this piece is an impossible ballet, Walt wanted to give a great amount of realism to the characters. The director of this story, Ken O'Connor (who would also direct the dancing elephants sequence in Dumbo) said of the short film "The reason why it turned out so funny is that the animals were so serious about getting it right".

Considering the people that were working on this project as well as on Pinocchio, some people think that, in terms of talent, this was the greatest moment in Disney history. It was not so economically. Despite its innovations, the film was a failure at its release, and it would only be several years later that it would gain popularity. 

The story goes that while receiving the Irving Thalberg Award at the academy awards in 1941, Walt Disney said "Thank you so much for this. Maybe I should have a medal for bravery. We all make mistakes. 'Fantasia' was one but an honest one. I shall now rededicate myself to my old ideals.

No comments:

Post a Comment