Anniversary Celebration of “Fantasia”

The third film in Rialto Cinemas’ anniversary celebrations is Disney’s “Fantasia,” which turns 75 this year. This movie is a series of animated interpretations of classical music performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, led by the great Leopold Stokowski. The sequences include abstract animation set to Bach’s “Tocatta and Fugue in D minor,” a depiction of the changing of the seasons set to Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite”, Mickey Mouse getting himself in a whole lot of trouble accompanied by “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” by Paul Dukas, the history of the earth set to Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” creatures from Greek mythology accompanied by Beethoven’s 6th Symphony, dancing animals set to Amilcare Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours,” and a horror fantasy set to “Night on Bald Mountain” by Mussorgsky.

Many of us had our first exposures to serious art music through cartoons. Disney, Warner Brothers and other animation studios often set their works to classic music. “Fantasia” is probably most ambitious marriage of the two forms. The production was also technically ambitious: it introduced Fantasound, the first stereo surround-sound system.

Leopold Stokowski and his associates won a special Academy Award for their work on “Fantasia.” Walt Disney, William E. Garity and J.N.A. Hawkins also got a special Academy Award for their advancement of sound in movies. “Fantasia” has a Tomatometer rating of 96%. The movie was selected to the National Film Registry in 1990 as a “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant film.”

Yannik Nezet-Seguin now leads the Philadelphia Orchestra. This showing of “Fantasia” will include a behind-the-scenes look at the orchestra’s rehearsals, including a selection of pieces from the movie. Nezet-Seguin will also lead a discussion about Stokowski, “Fantasia,” and the impact they had on the world of symphonic music.

“Fantasia” will be shown at the Cerrito at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 8, and at the Elmwood on Sunday, November 8 at 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., and again on Monday, November 9 at 7:00 p.m. You can get tickets at the box office or on line through the Cerrito or Elmwood web site.