Fantasia (1940)

Fantasia (1940) movie poster

various directors
viewed: 02/25/2012 at the Castro Theatre, SF, CA

It was a theatrical showing of Disney’s Fantasia that inspired our watching the film a little over a year ago, which was on DVD at home on a Friday night.  When the opportunity for a theatrical showing appeared again, this time at the Castro Theatre, I set it as a priority visit to the cinema for us.  We wound up with one of Felix’s best friends in tow as well.

Back last January, watching the film together, the three of us all wound up enjoying it.  Initially, the opening sequences were a little straining for the kids but eventually they got into them, Clara quite a lot.  How much (or little) a year changes.  And actually, having a friend along to distract you as well, I would say.  Felix found this outing “boring”.  Clara really liked it, again, her favorite was “The Pastoral Symphony” segment, with all the Greek mythology figures dancing around in forms of enhanced cuteness.

For my money (and it was my money we spent on this trip), it’s a great film.  The one sequence that I could do without is “The Rites of Spring,” which is interpreted through the creation of life on Earth, evolving into the dinosaurs and then culminating with the dinosaurs’ ultimate destruction at the hands of Nature and fate.  It’s a slower sequence, not entirely humorless but lacking vibrancy.  It’s the only true slog of the show.

Having just watched Legend (1985) the night before, I was very struck at how Ridley Scott’s devil is adapted from the demon in the “Night on Bald Mountain” sequence.  It’s an interesting transition from that piece to “Ave Maria”, which the sequence morphs into.  The opening part has the devil raising the dead, ghostly spirits zipping from the grave and devils dancing like Hieronymus Bosch figures through the Disney animation lens.  And then as dawn comes and the beasts all go back to ground, shrouded figures carrying lights march toward a forest cathedral.  While there is a significant Christian overtone, it’s not of a grandly explicit nature.  In fact, the images, filtered through Art Deco and Neoclassicism bear a nearly Pagan sensibility.

I didn’t get to quiz Felix’s friend on his thoughts, though he seemed more wiggly than Felix and Clara.  Felix and Clara have experienced a pretty wide spectrum of cinema and probably have a patience that is greater than a lot of children their age as a result.  Clara has a tendency to find qualities in everything, while Felix is going through of phase of being hard to impress.  I’ll leave it to the reader to decide which child seems to take after me more than the other.