TOCCATA AND FUGUE IN D MINOR - This done as a series of abstract images that suit the music. A good choice, and smart to pick a song everyone knows. If you think you don’t know it, I want you to imagine Dracula music. Yup, that’s it.
THE NUTCRACKER SUITE - Before this segment begins, our man Deems gives us a little background on the original Nutcracker Ballet, which he says “Wasn’t very popular and is rarely performed today.” At first, I thought this was just Deems being a master of deadpan, or Corey Burton not picking up on some sarcasm, but it turns out he’s right. The Nutcracker bombed in Russia, and didn’t even have a full performance in the US until years after Fantasia’s release. The segment is quite good, with fairies bringing a garden to life and cycling through the seasons, but I still can’t help but wonder what it was like for the 1940 audience. Without the vast cultural proliferation of the music from The Nutcracker, they’d see this in a completely different way from me. Also, the mushrooms would seem less racist.
|(Oh, I’m sorry. I mean “Mushlooms”)|
THE RITE OF SPRING - The origins of life on earth, as understood by the scientists of 1940. Actually, the early cellular development stuff is quite solid. The dinosaur biology is horrible. Tyrannosaurs with their tails dragging, sauropods with their necks raised, and dinosaurs from a span of 200 million years all hanging out with each other. But it still looks great, and the music is suitably epic. I wonder if creationists complained. They tended to be a lot quieter in those days, but Deems sure did seem to be hedging his bets in the intro, though definitely on the pro-science side. I do find the way he keeps saying “Science tells us this”, or “Science says that” to be hilarious. Like there’s just this guy called Science telling us everything. I bet he’s got a lab coat.
INTERMISSION - 15 minutes of the title card, capped with 2 minutes the musicians improvising, which is charming and funny and gives some personality to the army of nearly identical tuxedoed white men that have been playing for us. Then Deems spends 3 minutes interviewing “The Soundtrack”, a white line that changes shape depending on what instrument is played. This is awesome. And all that also includes about 4 hours of watching the orchestra file in and out of their seats. THRILLING.
|You'd think I'd make fun of all the rainbows and multicolored pegasi, but then I'd have to make fun of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and I WILL NOT DO THAT AND YOU CAN'T MAKE ME, THAT SHOW IS AWESOME.|
DANCE OF THE HOURS - A comedic ballet involving ostriches, hippos, elephants, and alligators for its four segments, which are the same musical themes reorchestrated to imply morning, afternoon, evening, and night. It’s okay, I guess. But frankly, there’s going to be one segment I always forget when I’m trying to remember what’s in this movie. And the music is irritatingly repetitive. (You may recognize it as the tune of Allan Sherman’s “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh”. And if you don’t, do your sanity a favor and don’t look that up.)
|Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man with huge freaking wings.|
* This was also on the AFI list, but it deserved to be.
* Next time I do an actual review instead of a list. These get too long.
* I should probably mention that in the Pastoral, Bacchus had two sexy black centaur attendants, so… there’s that. They had zebra bodies, but if that’s racist, then so is My Little Pony, and I’ll not hear such insults.
* Years after the fact, the Disney company started claiming that the guy on the mountain wasn’t Satan, but the Slavic deity Chernobog. But Deems called him the devil, and Walt called him “Satan himself”, and Mussorgsky was all over the place on that one, so I’m sticking with the obvious interpretation.