Well, I hope you’re enjoying this historic moment. You see, this is my first double-feature blog post. I know it’s wild, but hey, “YOLO.”
If you’ve never seen them, both Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 are anthology films composed of individual animated segments tailored to different pieces of music. Also, I just recently learned the word “anthology” and I was really excited to use it just now.
Now let’s address the elephant in the room (or in this case, the hippo in the palace): Fantasia is boring — almost excruciatingly boring — but only if you’re sitting and watching it.
For me, the key to enjoying these two films is to set expectations up front. Don’t gather around the TV with a tub of popcorn, just turn it on and enjoy the music in the background while you’re cooking dinner or playing with your kids, and then you can occasionally glance over to enjoy the moments that are most entertaining.
At 125 minutes, the original Fantasia is Disney’s longest animated feature and the only one to surpass the two-hour mark. (Have I mentioned it’s not a good idea to just sit and watch this one?) Fantasia 2000 is shorter, though, which almost redeems itself from the irony of actually being released in 1999.
Now if you do choose to sit and watch these, I’ve taken the liberty of listing each song in order of appearance and giving you a 1-10 rating of not-boring-ness, 10 being the most thrilling experience of your entire life.
- Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach (Rating: 1) — Mostly just mildly spiced-up shots of the orchestra. If you love your children you will skip this one.
- Nutcracker Suite by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Rating: 7) — A surefire hit for all you mushroom enthusiasts out there. The “Russian Dance” was always my favorite part as a kid.
- The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas (Rating: 9) — This is the flagship Mickey Mouse one. It was actually meant to spark a comeback for Mickey, as his popularity had been declining. This was also the first time Mickey was given pupils, which some children apparently prefer over creepy hollowed out eye sockets.
- Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky (Rating: 3) — Imagine Jurassic Park minus everything that was even remotely exciting about that movie.
- Intermission/Meet the Soundtrack (Rating: 1) — I had to bump the dinosaur one up to 3 to make room for this one.
- The Pastoral Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven (Rating: 6) — If you like centaurs, cupids, fauns, and other mythological creatures, this one’s for you. And just in case you care to know, some of the “centaurettes” are topless.
- Dance of the Hours by Amilcare Ponchielli (Rating: 7) — A comedic ballet with hippos, ostriches, elephants, and alligators. (Thus my hilarious hippo joke at the beginning of this post.)
- Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky and Ave Maria by Franz Schubert (Rating: 8) — The music is spectacular, though even today Disney still receives complaints from parents of terrified children. But my philosophy is this: If you can’t rely on Disney to bring Satan to life for your kids, arising from hell to summon his demon army, who else is going to pick up that tab?
- Symphony No. 5 in C minor-I. Allegro con brio by Ludwig van Beethoven (Rating: 1) — About as exhilarating as the song’s title.
- Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respighi (Rating: 5) — Just your run-of-the-mill “flying humpback whales trapped in icebergs during supernova” cartoon.
- Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin (Rating: 10) — If you watch just one piece from either Fantasia film make it this one. It takes place in Depression-era NYC and is animated in the style of Al Hirschfeld’s well-known caricatures of the time. Very, very cool.
- Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major-I. Allegro by Dmitri Shostakovich (Rating: 7) — Based on “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” by Hans Christian Andersen, this segment is the first time that the lead characters in a Disney animation were 100% computer generated.
- The Carnival of the Animals, Finale by Camille Saint-Saëns (Rating: 7) — You don’t know trouble until you give a flamingo a yo-yo.
- The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas (Rating: 9) — The only piece featured in both Fantasia (GoooOOOO PUPILS!)
- Pomp and Circumstance – Marches 1, 2, 3 and 4 by Edward Elgar (Rating: 8) — Donald Duck meets Noah’s Ark.
- Firebird Suite – 1919 Version by Igor Stravinsky (Rating: 3) — I get that this has a deeper meaning about the renewal of life and everything, I just thought it was boring.
OH, SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: I was going to make a joke about how there was an American Idol winner named Fantasia, but this post took a really long time to write and I’m running out of “look how funny I am” juice.
Music can invite the Holy Ghost and bring us closer to God — and it doesn’t have to be in the classical category like Fantasia.
Regardless of your age, I invite you to get rid of the profanity-laced sex-trivializing garbage that can drag down your potential and chip away at your real identity as a son or daughter of God.
Good music exists in most every genre. Find songs that elevate you.
“And David and all the house of Israel played before the Lord on all manner of instruments…” — 2 Samuel 6:5