What is the Disney Animation Challenge?
Since 1937, Walt Disney Animation Studios has produced a grand total of 60 films. Beginning with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and ending with Encanto, the Disney Animation Challenge is to watch all 60 films, commenting and ranking each one.
Why am I doing the challenge?
I’m glad you asked. I fricken LOVE Disney movies. I believe these magical fairy tales help keep that inner child alive in oneself. When someone says they are too old to watch Disney films or go to Disney World, this person has lost their inner child and needs to reconnect with it ASAP! Age is a mindset. You are never too old for anything! Just look at Walt Disney. This was a 29 year old man who decided to create dancing animals singing along with a princess as they cleaned a house belonging to seven dwarfs. The importance of these films, and the magic of Disney, is to keep that inner child living on inside you no matter what age you’re at in life. And I truly believe keeping that inner child within you is the key to longevity (I’m not a doctor so don’t quote me on this).
My Goal for the Challenge
Disney films have inspired me to become a writer. The inspiration came after seeing Aladdin on Broadway in 2019. After seeing this Broadway show, creativity filled my veins. So much that it got me sitting down and typing out my own fairy-tale book. That book soon became The Hoarding series. Fans of my series relate it to being a modern day fairy tale, and that was exactly the style I was going for. My goal for the Disney Animation Challenge is to learn the themes and story structure from the films I grew up loving to help me become a better writer.
So grab some popcorn and join me in the Disney Animation Challenge. Number three on the list is Fantasia.
In the 1930s Disney envisioned an idea of combining animation with classical music. He built a team and created a form of entertainment that still feels unique to this day. The oddball out of the Disney movies, Fantasia is an animated musical anthology released in 1940. The master of ceremonies, Deems Taylor, takes us through eight different segments. Each one tells a silent story set to music.
Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
This segment showed abstract patterns and shapes, bouncing about with the sound and rhythms of the orchestra. I actually thought this segment was pretty cool and relaxing. I could imagine it would be a great scene to watch on some Mary J. Watching this made me wish I could go back to feel the audience’s reaction seeing this for the first time on the big screen. I learned that this was the first film to use stereophonic sound and all the theaters had to update their sound systems in order to play this movie. I could only imagine what kind of experience that would have been back in the day.
The Nutcracker Suite
This piece depicts the changing of the seasons going from summer to autumn to winter. Fairies, fish, and flowers danced around in a ballet to no plot. It brought me back to the times I went to see the Nutcracker on Broadway. Great music and a very cool experience seeing this music put to animation.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
When people think of Fantasia, they probably think of this segment. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice features Mickey Mouse! But instead of playing the lead role (which was originally the plan) Mickey played the young apprentice of the sorcerer Yen Sid. The writers did this so that people in the audience could relate to Mickey’s curiosity. When his master goes on break, curious Mickey attempts to use some of his master’s teachings to perform magic. But Mickey doesn’t know how to control his powers. And chaos happens! This was my favorite part of Fantasia. And I thought it was amazing that a full story could be told without any speaking, only music.
I learned that Yen Sid was actually based on Walt Disney. Even the name Yen Sid spells Disney backwards. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was also a turning point in the appearance of Mickey Mouse. The way he was drawn in this feature film would be the model used to this day with Mickey’s white gloves and having pupils instead of black pits for eyes.
Rite of Spring
This piece tells the story of Earth’s beginnings all the way to the extinction of the dinosaurs. And being a fan of dinosaurs, I was loving this part of Fantasia, seeing the beautiful animations of dinosaurs and the world they lived in. It reminded me a bit of The Land Before Time. I noticed a lot of the animation drawn in this movie would be the basest used for future movies.
Intermission and Meet the Soundtrack
During this intermission, we meet the soundtrack: a straight white line that changes shapes to the sound being played. I thought it was interesting learning about the different frequencies that each instrument makes. But I was wondering if the band really was taking an intermission…
The Pastoral Symphony
Fantasia got weird after the break. Cupids mated centaurs together, and all the colorful mythical creatures danced around all merrily and gay. Until Zeus interrupts the festivities and the Centaur love making with a giant storm, throwing bolts of lightning down to Earth. Talk about a cock block.
Dance of the Hours
This was a comic ballet broken into four different parts. In the morning we have the ostriches dancing. Followed by the afternoon twirls by the hippos and their servants. Then the elephants strut around in the evening. Followed by the finale, my personal favorite, when the alligators came a night and tried to eat the hippo, which turned into a majestic dance between the two species.
Night on Bald Mountain
This was a weird way to end Fantasia. The devil summons his demons, making them dance and fly around him until he decides to go to sleep. Then the sun arrives, bringing light and peace to the land. This whole segment honestly scared the crap out of me.
It took me three months to watch Fantasia. It takes a lot of will power to sit down for over two hours (this was Disney’s longest featured film) to watch a silent movie set to classical music. But I appreciate Disney’s attempt of doing something different. I even enjoyed some of it. All I can say is I’m happy I’m done with this movie and can move on to some of my favorites.
Soundtrack Ranking: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 2/5