Sam Armstrong, James Algar, Bill Roberts, Paul Satterfield, Hamilton Luske, Jim Handley, Ford Beebe, T. Hee, Norm Ferguson, Wilfred Jackson

Mus.: Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Paul Dukas, Rachel Field, Modeste Moussorgskij, Amilcare Ponchielli, Franz Schubert, Igor Stravinskij, Pëtr Il’ič Čajkovskij. Int.: Leopold Stokowski, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Deems Taylor. Prod.: Walt Disney per Walt Disney Productions


T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

The film of seven concerts conducted by Leopold Stokowski is considered a critical and commercial failure. But the story of Fantasia, released in 1940, shortly before the United States entered the war, is the story of a shock, rather than a flop. Those who protested were mainly music critics, outraged by this trespass into their sacred territory, even if some of them admitted that it was a ‘promising monstrosity’ (Franz Hoellering, “The Nation”). The film, which was even closer to Walt’s heart, does not triumph like Snow White. The reason is not just the war, which stopped the exportation of film to Europe, but the technological gamble, the stereophonic sound known as Fantasound, a Disney Studio prototype requiring costly equipment for the reproduction of the sound. Most cinema theatres did not have the necessary resources to imitate New York, where, in November 1940 in a Broadway theatre, 36 speakers were installed behind the screen with another 54 speakers along the walls and in the gallery, at a total cost of $85,000. Walt would also have liked to trial an early version of the Odorama system, to release different perfumed essences during each episode. No speakers and no smells. Fantasia did not receive general theatrical release, not only abroad but also in America. Entrusted to different animators, the film (initially titled The Concert Feature) entwines forms and colours in a formal contrast without a stylistic unity, a wild artistic-musical palette defined by some as kitsch. And all because it puts together pre-Raphaelite nymphs and woods with symbolist centaurs (compared to decorations in a Thirties’ bistro) and the expressionism of Satan… Fantasia is a graphic jam session of solos, duets, trios and quartets, one that ranges from the abstractism of Bach’s Toccata e Fuga in re minore to Suite from the Schiaccianoci by Čajkovskij, where light fairies, Chinese mushrooms and Arabic fish dance. […]
The film finally had its payback in 1956, when Walt reissued it with the original optical Fantasound recorded onto magnetic four-track, transforming it into a money-maker, an extraordinary success, especially during the Seventies, when it was ordained a ‘psychedelic experience’.
Mariuccia Ciotta, Walt Disney. Prima stella a sinistra, Bompiani, Milano 2006