Fantasia (film)

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Fantasia is a 1940 American animated film produced by Walt Disney with brief live-action introductions between the animated segments. The third feature-length animated film produced by Walt Disney Productions, Fantasia features eight animated segments set to classical music selections. The animated segments feature no dialogue or sound effects; the only dialogue in the film is featured in live-action introductions to each piece by host Deems Taylor, an American composer and music critic, before each segment.

The music was recorded under the direction of Leopold Stokowski, who is featured in Taylor's live-action introductions, and seven of the eight pieces were performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra. Animated artwork of varying degrees of abstraction or literalism was used to illustrate or accompany the concert in various ways. Fantasia was notable for featuring what were then considered avant-garde qualities, and for being the first commercial film released in multi-channel sound using a process called "Fantasound".

Fantasia was originally released by Walt Disney Productions itself rather than its then-distributor, RKO Radio Pictures, and exhibited as a two-hour and twenty minute roadshow film (counting a fifteen-minute intermission) with reserved-seat engagements. The film opened to mixed critical reaction and failed to generate a large commercial audience, which left Disney in financial straits.[1][2]

Fantasia was eventually picked up by RKO for release in 1941 and edited drastically to a running time of 81 minutes in 1942. Five subsequent re-releases of Fantasia between 1946 and 1977 restored various amounts of the deleted footage, with the most common version being the 1946 re-release edit, which ran nine minutes shorter than the original 124 minute roadshow version. A 1982 reissue featured a newly recorded digital soundtrack conducted by composer Irwin Kostal, but was taken out of circulation in 1990 after a restored version of the original Stokowski-conducted soundtrack was prepared. The original version of Fantasia was never released again after 1941. 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. Additional interstitial narration and live action pre and post-intermission scenes were restored for the 2010 DVD and Blu-Ray Disc releases.

Despite its initial commercial failure, Fantasia went on to become one of the most popular films of all-time[3] and is today considered a classic film.

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