Fantasia does not actually have an overarching plot, but is a package of shorts and featurettes based on classical music pieces.
Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
The first segment, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, is an abstract work of art illustrating the eponymous music by J. S. Bach.
The Nutcracker Suite
Based on Tchaikovsky's music, this longer sequence is devoted to the beauty of nature, featuring anthropomorphized plants and animals, simple illustrations of the beauties of Nature (such as a beautiful sequence of flowers floating in a river), and a longer sequence illustrating the passing of the seasons, orchestrated by small fairies.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Based on Paul Dukas's music, itself in turn inspired by Gœthe's poetry, The Sorcerer's Apprentice features Mickey Mouse as the titular apprentice. Working under the guidance of wizard Yen Sid, Mickey is tired of only doing menial chores and wants a shot at actual magic; one night, he "borrows" his master's magic hat and uses it to give life to a broomstick, now ordering it to do his chores for him. However, the inexperienced Mickey cannot control his creation and chaos ensues before Yen Sid gets back and fixes the mischievious mouse's mistakes.
The Rite of Spring
To chosen pieces of Igor Stravinsky's music, we atre shown the realistic history of Earth from the formation of the oceans to the disappearance of the Dinosaurs. The short's climax is a battle to the death between a Stegosaurus and a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Meet the Soundtrack
In a comedic intermission that is not based on any actual piece of music, the audience is invited by narrator Dean Taylor to meet "the Soundtrack", a sentient representation of a soundtrack on film, who then changes shape based on various sounds.
The Pastoral Symphony
Ludwig van Beethoven's music is used to illustrate a day on Mount Olympus; the frolics of minor gods (such as Bacchus) and fantastical creatures of Greek mythology (such as young satyres, carefree cherubs, romance-inclined centaurs and centaurettes and a family of young pegasi) are interrupted by a storm caused by a mischievous Zeus.
Dance of the Hours
In this sequence based on Amilcare Ponchielli famous ballet score, a cast of clumsy anthropomrophic animals (such as ostriches, crocodiles, elephants and hippopotamuses) try to perform the ballet, to rather dubious results due to their physical appearance being as far removed from graceful as it can possibly get.
A Night on Bald Mountain
This segment begins with Mussorgski's famous A Night on Bald Mountain and is continued with Franz Schubert's Ave Maria. On Walpurgis Night, the Devil awakes and hosts a nightmarish sabbath, calling the souls of the damned and various demonic minions to hum in order to torture them for his amusement. At dawn, he and his dark servants are driven back to the underworld by the sound of the Church's bells and the religious singing of monks.
Clair de Lune
Only available on the 2000 Fantasia Anthology DVD edition, Clair de Lune was based on Claude Debussy's music of the same name and featured two egrets flying through a beautiful swamp in a moonlit night. It had been cut in 1940 to keep the running time of the film under two hours but the workprint was finally found in 1992.
Behind the scenes
Fantasia was intitially meant not to be a single movie, but a new kind of spectacle altogether, with a constantly shifting programme as screenings would go by. Due to the movie being a financial failure in 1940 (not so much because of any lack in quality as because the world had more serious matters to concern itself about in 1940 than light-hearted entertainment), this plan was never actually realized; however, another Fantasia movie was finally released in the year 2000, and a Fantasia 2006 was well into production when it was scrapped, leading to some completed segments (such as The Little Matchgirl) being scattered as bonuses to other Disney movies on DVD. In 1976, Italian director Bruno Bozzetto had also released Allegro Non Troppo, both a continuation and an affectionate parody of Fantasia.
|List of Walt Disney Classics|