Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” is the first of eight musical shorts released as part of Disney’s Fantasia in 1940. It was selected to introduce Walt’s unique mix of animation and symphony, as well as provide us with our first look at Leopold Stokowski, the conductor; Deems Taylor, the narrator; and the players of the Philadelphia Orchestra. The short contains no plot, but transitions smoothly from a live-action blend of music and color to abstract animation. It ends where it began, with a brilliant image of the conductor silhouetted in front of the rising sun. It is one of the most iconic images of the Fantasia experience.
This “Disney Diary” is the first in a series on Fantasia (1940), one post for each of the musical shorts contained in the program. These will be followed by a wrap-up combining and linking them together to provide a full assessment of the film. Read on for part one of Fantasia!
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) had been a gamble for Walt Disney, but one that had paid off both critically and economically. But was Disney successful because of the novelty of a feature-length cartoon? Or was there something here that he could build on? Dozens of films later, we know the answer to that story, but as 1940 rolled around the answer was still unclear.
Pinocchio was to be Disney’s second attempt at success, and they took pains to differentiate it from its predecessor. While Snow White had been a fairy-tale of the Brothers Grimm variety, Pinocchio was based on a 57-year old Italian children’s novel. The former centered around women, a princess, and her evil step-mother, while the latter was a boys tale of adventure with a morale. We all know the story of Pinocchio: a puppet that wants to be a real boy, a nose that grows when he lies, and about the lengths that he goes to be reunited with his father. It’s an amazing story, told well. And yet, it was also a box-office failure. It seems inconceivable.
Read on for a recap and my thoughts on this second Disney classic.
Note: This was the first post in a proposed series of “Disney Diaries”, a new look at the theatrically released Disney canon. I may revisit this series now that I have a place to put it.
Once Upon A Time
“Magic mirror on the wall…”
Once upon a time, an evil queen goes to her magic mirror to discover who the “fairest in the land” is today. When the mirror responds that she is no longer the most beautiful, but rather Snow White, she realized that something must be done. She had been keeping snow in rags and doing the work of a scullery maid, and yet her beauty had shined through. It was time for more desperate measures: Snow White must die. Outside the castle, Snow White dreamt of a prince who she had fallen in love with while singing around a wishing well. The prince appeared and Snow retreated to her balcony and the two exchange a love song while the evil queen looked on in disdain.