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Directed by: James Algar, Ben Sharpsteen, Walt Disney and others
Starring: Deems Taylor, Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra
Fantasia ranked # 58 on the American Film Institute's Top 100 American Films list.
Fantasia is a 1940 motion picture, the third in the Disney animated features canon, which was a Walt Disney experiment in animation and music. The soundtrack of the film consists of eight pieces of classical music, played by the Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of Leopold Stokowski. Animated artwork of varying degrees of abstraction or literalism is used to illustrate or accompany the concert in various ways. The film also includes live-action segments featuring Stokowski, the orchestra, and American composer and music critic Deems Taylor, who serves as the host for the film. Besides its avant-garde qualities, Fantasia was notable for being the first major film released in stereophonic sound, using a process dubbed "Fantasound".
Originally released by Walt Disney Productions as a roadshow film with booked engagements, RKO eventually picked up Fantasia for release in 1941 and edited the film drastically in 1942, leaving the film with only 84 minutes of running time. Future re-releases restored various amounts of the deleted footage, with the most common version being the 1946 re-release edit. The original version of Fantasia was never released again after 1941, and although some of the original audio elements no longer exist, a 2000 DVD release version attempted to restore as much of the original version of the film as possible.
Not only did Fantasia establish animation as a true art form, it also introduced movie audiences to multi-channel sound, which played a very important part in Fantasia. Stokowski enlisted the Philadelphia Orchestra, of which he was the conductor, to record the music for the six remaining segments. Walt was present on the sound stage during an early session, and was very pleased with what he was hearing until he heard the playback from the recording engineers. He felt the recorded version of the music sounded tinny and undynamic, and asked his engineers to see what they could do about developing a better sound system. The engineers responded by creating a multi-channel (stereophonic) sound format they called Fantasound, making Fantasia the first commercial film ever to be produced in stereophonic sound. The film also marked the first use of the click track while recording the soundtrack, overdubbing of orchestral parts, and simultaneous multi-track recording.
Always wanting to try new things, Walt also had plans to film Fantasia in widescreen and to spray different perfumes into the theatre at appropriate times during the Nutcracker Suite, but those plans were never carried out.
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