As a more mature foray into art and music fantasy, Disney further missed its mark with careless racist and sexist references (as it often does) in Beethoven's "Pastoral Symphony" with the specifically colored horses and in "Dance of the Hours" with the offensive and alarming gender roles. In the 21st century, "Fantasia"'s dated quality really shows.
Some of the cartoons and music are just there to make up pictures like you might picture in your mind while simply listening to the music, and others tell a story while music plays in the background. For example, you'll see Mickey Mouse star in an unforgettable cartoon where Mickey serves as The Sorcerer's Apprentice, which is my favorite part of "Fantasia." Another good example is when the conductor tells you to imagine what it would be like if you were in outer space looking at a desolate planet called earth. Right after he tells you that, the orchestra starts playing and then the cartoon starts out in outer space, dinosaurs eventually appear, and then from there, I'll let you find out the rest that "Fantasia" has in store.
I'll admit, I'm not the biggest fan of orchestras or music without the aid of singing, but I did like most of the music in "Fantasia" and the cartoons were interesting to watch. And in my opinion, the idea of combining great orchestra music with live-action cartoons was brilliant, especially for the time that this film was made. Even if you're not a huge fan of instrumental music or even cartoons, I recommend giving "Fantasia" a try....you just might be impressed. I know I was! NOTE: That was my Amazon review from the year 2001. Actually, I was being nice that day. I like Fantasia and it's definitely a one of a kind, which I always appreciate, but it's never been one of the Disney films I thought the most of.
There's a memorable introduction to the entire orchestra, which is used as a framing device between the pieces. It's a bit dorky, but once they started playing "Tocatta & Fuge in D Minor" with the abstract shapes and colors, I was mesmerized.
"The Nutcracker Suite" with the dancing flowers was art and music perfectly combined; a joy to behold.
The "Rite of Spring"dinosaur segment was long and boring; they could've taken it out entirely and nobody would mind; I often fast-forward through this one.
"The Sorcerer's Apprentice" with Mickey Mouse was classic stuff which fit the music very well.
"The Pastoral Symphony" with the prancing flying horses and centaurs, gave meaning to the "Fantasia" title. There was plenty of humour and happenings.
"Dance of the Hours" had the dancing Hippos, Elephants and Alligators, was a nice wake-me-up scene after things had gotten slow. Great animation; almost as frantic as a Looney Tunes short!
"Night on Bald Mountain" was powerful, ominous and scary; a good Disney Halloween treat! "Ave Maria", which followed, was peaceful and heavenly; but lame animation on the candle procession.
It's a long movie, and a lot to ask kids to sit through. It's a perfect remedy for those who can't sleep.