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Fantasia (1940) By Uher, Valerie

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-REM2141-1
Published: 1/3/2024
Retrieved: 19 July 2024, from


Fantasia is an animated American film produced by Walt Disney. The film consists of eight animated segments, of which ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ is the most famous one. Apart from ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,’ all segments of the film are set to the music of well-known Western classical composers, performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra and conducted by Leopold Stokowski. Live action introductions by composer and music critic Deems Taylor link each segment. Fantasia was the first film to utilise stereophonic sound, referred to by Disney as ‘Fantasound’. In bringing together high art (classical music) with popular culture (animation), Fantasia demonstrates the modernist tendency to disregard cultural hierarchy and traditional distinctions between genres – an act that stirred controversy when the film was first released. The film employs an eclectic approach, splicing together pieces of music from longer symphonies and depicting heterogeneous subject matter, from characters based on Greek mythology to a literalistic portrayal of the extinction of the dinosaurs. The style of the animation, characterised by intricate multilayered images produced by multiplane cameras, draws from diverse modernist sources. The influence of surrealism, art-deco, modernist abstraction, combined with the more traditional influences of Romantic nineteenth-century painting and academic art, are all evident in its visual imagery. Both critically praised and widely popular, Fantasia was named number 5 in the American Film Institute’s top 10 best animated films, and number 58 in their list of the 100 best American films.

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Uher, Valerie. Fantasia (1940). Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, Taylor and Francis,

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