Thursday, January 28, 2010


When I was a young collector of images (yes, before Tumblr, before the internet, even before computers [can you imagine such a time]), I would come across various stills from Disney's 1940 Fantasia and I would be mesmerized, haunted by the desire to see this film. Remember too, this was before DVDs or even videos, I mean this was the stone age.

Then it was re-released in '69, and when I first saw it in the big theater by myself, I was electrified by the uniqueness of its concepts. I enjoyed it so much I went back half a dozen more times, each time taking a different date, gauging how much I liked the girl by how much she liked the film. The last segment, the Ave Maria scene, always put me to sleep. But so much of the rest was watchable again and again.

Now, years later, I have the DVD and have watched it a couple of times and have seen the flaws and it's all grown a bit stale. But now we all have access to so much of the pre-production material, and how exciting that stuff is. If only the film had followed the concept artists' visions more closely, it would have been an immortal masterpiece, instead of a dated so-so masterpiece.

But STILL. What an accomplishment for that day and age.

The Pastoral Symphony sequence caught my fancy over all the others, and the pre-production art is fascinating. Over the next number of posts I'm going to show some of those, one at a time, as they have been a source of inspiration for me, and may be for some of you who have not yet seen them.


M. D. Jackson said...

I first saw it in a theater with a friend in Vancouver back in the '80's. I'd seen bits and pieces shown on TV in various Disney specials, but seeing it on the big screen was a revelation. What a marvelous achievement.

At the time it was marred only by a fellow with a deep throated and thunderous laugh who was experiencing the film as well as the side effects of the nameless substances he'd imbibed before taking his seat.

Other than that it was a wonderful evening

Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

Yes, I forgot to mention that most of the audience was stoned on something before coming in to the movie, with a few lighting up during. I didn't feel the need to do likewise, but between the sensory impact of the film and the purple haze wafting through the theater, everyone exited with heightened consciousness. And very hungry.

Steve Scott said...

Yes, I remember the '69 re-release. Considering what I took before I went, I'm not sure just *how* I remember, but I do.

Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

Steve, you old hippie.