Fantasia

AFI Rank: #58
Year Released: 1940
Director: Ben Sharpsteen, Bill Roberts
Actors: n/a

Fantasia holds its own as #58 on the AFI top 100 lists against many classics such as The Godfather and Citizen Kane. What elevates this cartoon to such levels?

First, its key feature is fantastic, classical music. Playing this DVD is like sitting down to a wonderful concert. You could simply play it through without visuals and enjoy it.

Of course, Disney is famous for its images, and Fantasia is no exception! They bring each song to life in its own unique way. Some tell a specific story, like the Sorcerer's Apprentice. Others are more impressionistic. There are twirling hippos and dancing mushrooms. Centaurs and dinosaurs.

This DVD has a minor tweak to the storyline - a short clip of an 'African-American lower-class centaur' was trimmed out. While some might find that to be extreme, I'm content with that change. What remains are centaurs of all colors, representing all of us. There was no reason to single one out as being the "servant" one with stereotypical traits.

If I have one issue, it's the scene with the "teenage girl centaurs". They start the scene with the girls neck-deep in a pond, clearly leading the viewer to believe they are humans. It's supposed to be a "surprise" when they emerge from the water and reveal themselves to be half horse. So as these girls are slowly emerging from the water, they're all naked down to the waist. I feel uncomfortable with half naked teen girls on the screen. Yes eventually watchers realize they are centaurs - once we get past the waist. Still, the whole scene is given an "ogling something that should be private" atmosphere and the idea of ogling naked bathing teen girls doesn't appeal to me.

Still, with that one caveat, the scenes are great.

Well recommended; a true classic.

AFI Top 100 Film Listing
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The Bechdel Test in the AFI Top 100