Fantasia

Movie review by
Paul Trandahl, Common Sense Media
Fantasia Movie Poster Image
Breathtaking animation feat -- with some creepy visuals.
  • G
  • 1940
  • 120 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 36 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

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.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.

Sexy Stuff

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.

Language
Consumerism
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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 1 year old Written byhelenek April 9, 2008

Scene with dinosaurs terrified ME!

My mother told me many years ago that this was my favorite movie when I was very young -- I watch it now and wonder when my son will be able to watch it. I fel... Continue reading
Adult Written byDr.Pepper April 9, 2008

Must-See

A breathtaking movie that delighted me when I was young and will delight your kids too. A great way to introduce children to classical music. There is some topl... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

Boring...

Some find this to be a masterpiece, I find it boring. All it is are orchestra songs strung together with animated scenes to go along with the beat. I took this... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byBestPicture1996 July 26, 2010

Wow, man

Really anyone over 7 CAN see this but I don't think they'd want to, it's more of an teen-adult thing that can understand how much work walt Disne... Continue reading

What's the story?

When Donald Duck began to eclipse Mickey Mouse in popularity in the late 1930s, Disney conceived of a lavish comeback vehicle for his first cartoon star: FANTASIA. "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," set to the music of Paul Dukas, was the end result, and no expense was spared to make this a crowning jewel in the mouse's career. When Disney realized that the company couldn't possibly recoup its investment releasing the piece as a short subject, he conceived an entire animated feature set to pieces of classical music, of which "Sorcerer's Apprentice" would now be a part. Walt Disney's groundbreaking feature combining classical music with extravagant animation retains its status as a landmark in animation history. Both "The Rite of Spring," with its realistic recreation of the age of the dinosaurs, and "Night on Bald Mountain," with its vividly spectacular depiction of evil personified, took animation into realms that were unimaginable just 10 years earlier.

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. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about fantasy vs. reality in Fantasia and in general. How can you tell when something is made up? Can you be sure something is real if you haven't ever seen it? Can something be scary even if you know it's not real?

  • How does the Magician's Apprentice (Mickey Mouse) demonstrate curiosity, courage, and perseverance in Fantasia? Do any other characters show those qualities? Why are those important character strengths?

Movie details

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