Walt Disney’s Fantasia: A Magical Work of Music-Animation
Fantasia is an American animated film produced by Walt Disney, which was released by Walt Disney Productions in 1940. It is the third most featured film in the Disney Animated Features Canon and consists of eight animated segments of classical music that were conducted by Leopold Stokowski. This film uses an extraordinary blend of magnificent music and classic Disney animation to express exhilarating sight and sound.
For over the past seventy years, Fantasia has emerged as one of the biggest milestones in the history of motion pictures. The movie Fantasia is Walt Disney’s most acclaimed and celebrated films of all time that incorporates sound, music, and animation in perfect harmony. The film, Fantasia, was the first American film to use stereophonic sound as well as the first and only film recorded in Fantasound. When these two types of sounds were mixed together Walt Disney was able to create sounds that could incorporate both actions and emotions. But how was that possible? Stereophonic sound or, more commonly, stereo, is a method of sound reproduction that creates an illusion of directionality and audible perspective (Brewer 1).
Now on the other hand there is Fantasound. “A new revolutionary sound system especially made just for Fantasia. This new system would ensure proper sound, synchronization, and quality” (Aldridge 1). By mixing these two methods of sound together the emotions and actions of the movie became more clear and precise. If Walt Disney had not taken the time to properly blend these sound methods with the music and animation used in Fantasia it would have all ended in failure. Since it would have been thrown out of balance and would not have been properly synchronized with the movie’s animation. By incorporating a balance of sound with the film, the movie was able to develop a sense of flow. Stokowski once said: “The beauty and inspiration of music must not be restricted to a privileged few, but made available to every man, woman, and child. That is why great music associated with motion pictures is so important, because motion pictures reach millions all over the world” (Aldridge 2). What Stokowski was trying to say was that music and animation should be used side by side one another.
Music should be able to express every day events. That is why the main theme, used for Fantasia, was to create a film where you could “hear the music” and at the same time “see the music”. Walt Disney created this theme by removing all dialogue from the film. As a result, the music used in Fantasia was the only dialogue used throughout the entire movie. Fantasia incorporated many famous works of musical compositions such as “The Nutcracker Suite”, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, “The Rite of Spring”, and “A Night on Bald Mountain”. “Overall these compositions depict many different areas of subject matter such as prehistoric times, the four seasons, nature, hell/heaven, the themes of light vs. darkness and chaos vs. order, dancing animals, classical mythology, and legend” (Brewer 2). “This Disney production was an ambitious experiment to try to popularize classical music, especially by accompanying it with animation.
Originally, the film was to consist of only The Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment, but it was expanded to include the full anthology of shorts” (Aldridge 3). But as production costs grew higher than what it could earn, Walt Disney decided to include a short in a feature-length film with other segments that were set to classical pieces. Over one thousand artists and technicians were used in the making of Fantasia, which featured over five hundred characters. Segments were color-keyed, scene by scene, so that the colors in a single shot would harmonize between proceeding and following ones. Before a segment’s narrative pattern was complete, an overall color scheme was designed to the general mood of the music and was patterned to correspond with the change in subject matter. The studio’s character model department would also sculpt three-dimensional clay models so the animators could view their subject from all angles (Brewer 3). Fantasia incorporates the use of sound, music, and animation. When these three factors came together Walt Disney was able to create an amazing work of art.
First the music was added which would display the overall emotion and intensity of the film. Next comes in the animation. The animation was used to display what was actually happening in the movie. Lastly is the sound. Creating a proper balance between a movie and its music can be very difficult. But Walt Disney was able to use Fantasound to develop a powerful sense of control and harmony. Through superior design and creativity Walt Disney was able to create a perfect master piece of music-animation. Walt Disney’s Fantasia is an animated master piece that has been celebrated and admired for over seventy years.
In 1990, Fantasia was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. “On the 100th anniversary of cinema in 1995, the Vatican included Fantasia in its list of 45 “great films” made under the Art category; the others being Religion and Values” (Brewer 4). As of 2012, Fantasia has earned over $76.4 million in domestic revenue and is the 22nd highest-grossing film of all time in the U.S. The movie Fantasia is Walt Disney’s most acclaimed and celebrated films of all time that incorporates sound, music, and animation in perfect harmony. Works Cited
Aldridge, Brad. Walt Disney’s Fantasia. Walt Disney Company, 19 Jul 1999. Web. 3 Oct 2013. .
Brewer, Nathan. Fantasound. IEEE Global History Network, 13 Jan 2012. Web. 1 Oct. 2013. .