Published On: Wed, Nov 12th, 2014

This Day in History: Walt Disney’s ‘Fantasia’ Released in 1940

Seventy-four years ago, Walt Disney released a conducted animated film which would shock and revolutionize the film industry. Fantasia was unable to make a profit due to World War II cutting off the profitable European market, the film’s high production costs, and the expense of leasing theatres and installing the Fantasound equipment for the roadshow presentations.

fantasia_mickey_mouse_posterThe film was subsequently reissued multiple times with its original footage and audio being deleted, modified, or restored in each version. As of 2012, Fantasia has grossed $76.4 million in domestic revenue and is the 22nd highest-grossing film of all time in the U.S. when adjusted for inflation.

While Bosley Crowther of The New York Times noted that “motion-picture history was made last night … Fantasia dumps conventional formulas overboard and reveals the scope of films for imaginative excursion … Fantasia … is simply terrific” while those who adopted a more negative view at the time of the film’s release were mostly music critics who resisted the idea of presenting classical music with visual images, arguing that doing so would rob the musical pieces of their integrity.

TV Guide noted Fantasia to be “the most ambitious animated feature ever to come out of the Disney studios”, noting how the film “integrates famous works of classical music with wildly uneven but extraordinarily imaginative visuals that run the gamut from dancing hippos to the purely abstract”. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times rated the film four stars out of four, and noted that throughout Fantasia, “Disney pushes the edges of the envelope.”

The Sorcerer’s Hat is the icon of Disney’s Hollywood Studios with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice being one of the most iconic and recognized sequences in all of the Disney library.

Look for 2015 to a grand celebration as the film will turn 75!

Mickey Mouse in Fantasia The Scorcerer's Apprentice


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