Fantasia. It’s the movie snob’s Disney film of choice, featuring some of the most imaginative and gorgeous animation the studio’s ever produced, set to beautiful classical music. It’s iconic, artistic and groundbreaking in demonstrating the scope of what animation could do and the potential of Disney as a film studio. For me? It taught me never to trust anyone because they will turn on you.
Why? Because Fantasia is bloody terrifying. Even now I find it hard to watch without just feeling hugely unnerved by it all. I wasn’t that old when I first saw Fantasia but like any child I loved Disney. I’d seen Peter Pan, countless Mickey Mouse cartoons and even Fun and Fancy Free (basically Fantasia but not as artistic and less traumatising) so when Fantasia was put on my reaction would have been “Oh boy, Disney! This is bound to be fun!” But NO. IT WAS NOT.
The film opens with Bach’s wonderful Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, set to footage of beautiful, rhythmic abstract animation. To this day I still find it hugely creepy and I have no idea why, but something about those swirling shapes just makes me want to curl up into a ball and cry. Yes I’m fully aware I’m pathetic. Anyway, later on comes the most famous segment, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Terrifying. Yes it’s Mickey Mouse messing about with magic but that just makes the betrayal all the worse when it shifts into nightmarish sentient brooms and near drowning experiences.
Elsewhere we see the death of the dinosaurs (traumatising) until we reach the final and worst segment of all – Night on Bald Mountain. This one literally has a demon in it. This demon is the single most horrifying thing Disney ever created, and that includes that bloke who shot Bambi’s mum. The fact that anyone ever thought this was appropriate to show to children and not expect them to have a breakdown baffles me.
So Fantasia defined my childhood because it has scarred me to this day, and taught me that even the people you love most may just decide to emotionally attack you out of the blue. Isn’t Disney just magical?!