Disney’s third animated feature Fantasia had been a bit of a gamble, but one that kinda paid off. Mickey’s “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” became an iconic image of the mouse who started it all and when it was released on VHS in the ’90s it was a big hit. We had a copy at my house. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite as successful financially as Walt had hoped and his plan to make it a constantly evolving piece of work was shelved. Talk of a sequel was kicked around a couple of times, until the 90s when they decided to make this movie.
In a lot of ways it sticks close to the format of the original- classical music accompanied by animated sequences, with brief talking in between. It’s a decent structure and it allows the movie to have a variety of different animation styles in each segment. The animation, often mixing CGI and traditional techniques are uniformly wonderful. There are eight sections, with seven being brand new and the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” from the original reappearing.
As with the original, certain sections stand out for me. My favourites, alongside Mickey’s moment, include a sequence featuring flying whales set to “Pines of Rome” by Ottorino Respighi, which is just gorgeously animated.
There’s also a fun and chaotic New York story set to George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and Donald Duck gets his chance to shine to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance” (known primarily in America as the graduation song, or here as the tune for “Land of Hope and Glory”. Personally, it always makes me think of Macho Man Randy Savage.) This sequence, which sees Donald as Noah’s apprentice trying to get all the animals aboard is rather fun, with some nice slapstick and a scene of dragons and unicorns laughing at the animals boarding the ark. And the story of Donald and Daisy thinking they’ve lost each other is nicely done.
It’s a visually stunning and engaging movie and while some of the interconnecting parts are a bit cheesy, for the most part it works and the animation and music more than make up for it. The sheer invention and artistry on display is magnificent, and it feels like Disney were continuing Walt’s legacy nicely as they neared the end of the 20th century.
Disney Score: 7/10.
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