Fantasia (1940)

Genres - Fantasy, Musical, Children's/Family  |   Sub-Genres - Animated Musical, Children's Fantasy, Musical Fantasy  |   Run Time - 120 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - G
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Review by Emru Townsend

Among other things, Walt Disney was a man who was good at letting things spiral out of control -- usually to the enjoyment of the public for generations to come. In this case, it was a "Silly Symphony" featuring Mickey Mouse as the title character in Paul Dukas' The Sorcerer's Apprentice which eventually blossomed into Fantasia -- Disney's longest animated feature, which went from being a box-office bomb when it was released in 1940 to a widely recognized masterpiece decades later. It's not hard to see why; despite stunning, powerful animation that is unparalleled to this day, audiences in 1940 didn't know what to make of a feature cartoon with prancing centaurs, pirouetting nymphs, tutu'd hippos, and no story or narration. It wasn't until the psychedelic '60s that Fantasia began ascend to its current status, and the rise of increasingly thorough animation historical studies didn't hurt either. After decades of various alterations (including an ignominious shortened version, rescored sound, and new narration), a restored, nearly intact print of the original Fantasia was re-released in 1990 to critical and popular acclaim. Disney's original plan was to periodically re-release the movie, gradually replacing old segments with new music and animation, but its initial failure kept that dream from becoming reality. Work began on just such a sequel shortly after the 1990 restoration, which was eventually released in late 1999 as Fantasia 2000.