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Fantasia Review

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A 1940s attempt by Disney to combine the "high art" of classical music to animation, with 9 very different shorts being linked by the orchestra's conductor...

★★★★★

If you've never seen Fantasia, which has been restored, re-recorded and re-released by Disney on this, its 50th Anniversary, you will be disappointed to discover what a remorselessly kitsch experience it actually is. If you have seen it and were on hallucinogenics at the time, remember it that way. There are, indeed, some magical sequences here, as one would certainly expect in a film made by 60 animators supervised by 11 - count 'em - directors.

Most watchable are the abstractions to Bach, ahead of their time, Mickey Mouse, never more delightful than as The Sorcerer's Apprentice, the Chinese mushrooms dancing, the trippy flowers and the hippos in tutus - all still a hoot.

Together, these make for perhaps a maximum of 70 minutes of greatness. That leaves an awful lot of stuff in this xxx-minute movie that one has mercifully forgotten in the intervening years, boredom frequently relieved only by absolute incredulity at what one is seeing. Personal favourites are the nude but "tastefully" organless fairies, while the decline of the dinosaurs to Stravinsky's Rite Of Spring is interminable, and the vulgar absurdity to which Beethoven's Pastorale is subjected takes some beating with centaurs courting centaurines coiffed in the fashion of Joan Crawford. Every time this is screened anywhere, poor Ludwig must be rolling in his resting place.

Take a child to this at your peril: judging by the writhings and high-pitched bleatings in this reviewer's vicinity, you will probably not be thanked with the warmth that would greet an expedition to see those pizza-guzzling terrapins.

This is a very patchy affair - while some of the animated pieces work, others come across as downright insane.

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