Picks and Pans Review: Fantasia
When it was released in 1940, this Walt Disney production, which uses animation to illustrate classical music themes, was an imaginative marvel. It was critically acclaimed and won two special certificates (but no Oscar) at the 1941 Academy Awards. However, the film was poorly patronized and didn't reach the break-even point financially until 1969, by which time it was being used by psychedelic drug fanciers as a film to trip out on. Something has been lost in redoing the sound track for this new release. The idea was to take advantage of more sophisticated modern recording techniques. In the original, Leopold Stokowski conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra in fragments of such works as Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, Dukas' Sorcerer's Apprentice and Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony No. 6. The animation was then drawn to fit the music. In this re-dubbing, veteran Hollywood conductor Irwin Kostal, using a Dolby sound system, led a 125-piece studio orchestra that had to fit its tempos to the old screen images. The result is a more faithfully reproduced but less powerful rendering of the music. This remains a wonderful way to introduce children to the classics, though. And adults who remember Mickey Mouse in the Sorcerer's Apprentice segment, the hippo ballerinas prancing to Ponchielli's The Dance of the Hours or the dinosaurs battling to Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring won't mind seeing the film again. (G)
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