A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
A narrator augments the animated portions of the film and introduces many orchestral instruments and musical concepts. He guides the audience through some of the great classics (Shubert, Beethoven, Stravinsky and more), giving tips to help enrich the musical experience.
Music, color, movement, and feeling are closely connected. Music is a powerful means of expression. In "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", as well as a few of the other segments, characters demonstrate curiosity, courage, and perseverance.
Positive Role Models
In the "Pastoral" section, which depicts the romance of mythological characters, the male and female centaurs have old-fashioned male-female roles. The females bat their eyelashes and weaken in the presence of the strong, protective males.
Violence & Scariness
In "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," Mickey Mouse is a young wizard who cannot control the frenzied brooms that his magic has set in motion. The result is an intense storm, a giant whirlpool, and waves of water completely overpowering the scene.In "Rites of Spring" there are erupting volcanoes, massive earthquakes, fires and explosions and a final fight to the death between two ferocious dinosaurs. In "Dance of the Hours" and "Night on Bald Mountain" the forces of evil are portrayed by ghosts, skeletons, vultures, bats, and alligators.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Naked and partially naked nymphs, centaurs, and cherubim engage in courtship and romance. With the exception of one brief shot of nipples, there is no breast or genital definition to the animated characters.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
To the strains of Beethoven's "Pastoral," animated gods, humans, and animals drink wine, eat grapes. The god Bacchus becomes quite drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Fantasia is a very early animated film (1940) contains numerous sequences in which the combination of ominous, dark music and violent, scary visuals could be frightening to very young or very sensitive kids. While there are enchanting dancing flowers, hippos, unicorns, and striking visuals that show the relationship of sight and sound, there are at least as many very threatening images intensified by the shadowy dark music. Out-of-control broomsticks launch a massive flood; ferocious dinosaurs with teeth bared and giant clamping jaws fight a death battle; lightning and thunder introduce death and despair in the guise of skeletons, graves, bats, evil armies, and ghosts. There are several scenes which depict the romance of many mythological beings (centaurs, cherubim) and in which many of the characters are modestly unclothed. Some additional selections, including one which follows the evolution of the species over millions of years from an amoeba to the end of the giant dinosaur era, are very long, slow and may not fully engage today's kids. The film is most valuable as an historical experience. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Disney's most experimental movie may bore kids used to more straightforward storytelling, and preschoolers may need to skip the scary parts. However, these are minor quibbles when confronted with the breathtaking artistry that dominates the movie.At the time the movie was made, the Disney factory was at the absolute peak of its powers. Fantasia exhibits a stunning attention to detail that would never again be duplicated (a result of the movie's initial box office failure). "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" remains a tour de force of music, character animation, and photographic effects.
Nevertheless, there are some dry spots. "Dance of the Hours," with its dancing hippos and alligators, is funny, but drags on longer than necessary. The "Pastoral" is the blandest sequence; its scenes of teenage centaurs courting one another are more reminiscent of prom night than ancient mythical worlds. Seen decades later, much of the film's imagery continues to astonish, even when compared with modern, computer-enhanced extravaganzas.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.