#293. Lions

Often described as “the King of the Jungle”, lions have consistently been used as symbols of bravery, strength and power. While they have been abused in many venues, from gladiatorial coliseums to circus tents, they still remain as one of the most dangerous forces of nature (along with tigers and bears . . . oh my). In part due to their danger to humans, they are often hunted to maintain safety as much as they are for notoriety of big game hunters; sometimes to great, public outrage, as was the case with Cecil the lion. And while the lion is used in heraldry, as a constellation, and as a rank for Cub Scouts, very few films use lions as main, or even secondary, characters. It would almost seem they’re as rare in the realm of cinema as they are in the real world. This week’s two films highlight some movies that feature lions.

The Lion KingThe Lion King
Year: 1994
Rating: G
Length: 89 minutes / 1.48 hours

Part of the reason why lions aren’t more prominently featured in movies, aside from the opening credits logo for MGM, is because animals can’t talk. It’s difficult to have a main character who can’t emote through dialogue carry a story. Therefore, one of the options to give lions dialogue is through animation. One of the earliest animated lions was Kimba the White Lion, a Japanese anime that ran from 1965 to 1967. Recently, the series of CGI-animated Madagascar films have featured Ben Stiller as Alex the Lion, an animal kept in captivity in the Central Park Zoo. Most famously, the best animated film featuring lions was none other than The Lion King (1994). Even though there was some controversy around its similarity to Kimba the White Lion, The Lion King has remained popular despite this.

Mufasa (James Earl Jones) leads a pride of lions in the Pride Lands of Africa. His brother, Scar (Jeremy Irons), has been plotting to usurp the throne from him, but once Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) is born, he is now one step lower on the hierarchical ladder to become king. By using a stampede of wildebeest, Scar manages to kill Mufasa and convince Simba it was the young cub’s fault. Running away to exile himself in the jungle, Simba grows up amongst his newfound friends, Timon (Nathan Lane) and Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella). Years later, with the Pride Lands in ruin, Simba (Matthew Broderick) returns to confront his uncle. Learning the truth of his father’s demise and accepting his rightful place as king, Simba defeats Scar and starts the “circle of life” over again with a child of his own.

Secondhand LionsSecondhand Lions
Year: 2003
Rating: PG
Length: 109 minutes / 1.82 hours

An interesting way to play off of stereotypes is to create characters who exhibit the opposite traits. Sure, there are plenty of lions who represent strong ideals, like Aslan from the Chronicles of Narnia series. Still, a cowardly lion, like the one found in The Wizard of Oz (1940), is much more entertaining because he doesn’t act like one would expect a lion to act. Similarly, Alex the Lion from Madagascar (2005) was given his meat to him by zoo caretakers, thus depriving him of any hunting skills. Even the rehabilitated lion from Secondhand Lions (2003) became more like a housecat than a dangerous predator. However, just because a lion doesn’t act the way we think it should, we are often initially cautious because of the warnings about lions we have heard time and again over the years.

Brothers Hub (Robert Duvall) and Garth (Michael Caine) McCann were content living out the rest of their remaining days shooting at travelling salesmen and performing risky stunts. Unfortunately, their niece dropped her son, Walter Caldwell (Haley Joel Osment), off at their country home. As the teenage boy and his great uncles get to know each other, they eventually grow close. After Hub orders a retired lion from a circus, he’s disappointed to learn the lioness is tame, since he wanted to hunt the beast and mount its head on his wall. Escaping from her cage, the lioness adapts to the cornfield and makes it her territory. While Walter learns that the rumors of his great uncles’ wealth and adventures are true, his mother arrives to try and claim the fortune. It’s at this point when the old lioness steps in to protect Walter, giving him the ability to separate himself from his lyin’ mother for good.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 likeable lions

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#292. Animated Classic Literature

Anyone who grew up during the late 1990’s is probably familiar with the PBS show, Wishbone. As a child soon to be headed into junior high, I enjoyed the show at face value, but deep down in my subconscious I was learning about classic literature. For years, these episodes were my only exposure to famous pieces of literature, and thus my only knowledge of their plots until I read some of them many decades later. Disney has also done a pretty good job of adapting many classic tales to the big screen. Through their animation studio, many fairy tales were memorably created and still remain almost as the de-facto versions of their source material. That being said, some of the adaptations weren’t as obvious as others. This week’s two films look at some classic literature in an animated format.

Treasure PlanetTreasure Planet
Year: 2002
Rating: PG
Length: 95 minutes / 1.58 hours

Up until the 21st Century, Disney had animated many well-known stories from various sources. From fairy tales to short stories to novels, much of their source material was in the public domain. Once the new millennium came around, they started to create some original stories like The Emperor’s New Groove (2000), Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) and Lilo & Stitch (2002). While this trend has mostly continued, there were a few films animated during this timeframe that held to the formula of adapting classic literature. While being thinly veiled as something different, Treasure Planet (2002) was an almost-direct adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson novel, Treasure Island, merely with sci-fi trappings available via new, 3-D animation techniques (with traditional, 2-D animation being interposed on top of it).

Just like any other teenager, Jim Hawkins (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has a longing for adventure. While Alponian solar cruising works for the time being, when he is given a map by the pilot of a crashed spaceship, he sets out to find where it leads. Despite the final words of the pilot warning Jim to “beware the cyborg”, one of the friends he makes while aboard the RLS Legacy is none other than half-robot cook, John Silver (Brian Murray). After taking control of the ship during a mutiny he planned, Silver lets Jim and some ousted leaders of the ship escape to Treasure Planet. Once on the planet, the original crew finds a robot by the name of B.E.N. (Martin Short) who has literally lost his memory. In searching for the robot’s missing piece, Jim discovers that the map is also able to open portals, including to the center of the planet where the treasure is stored. Unfortunately, this triggers the planet to explode, forcing them to abandon the treasure.

The Lion KingThe Lion King
Year: 1994
Rating: G
Length: 89 minutes / 1.48 hours

Most kids who go to see an animated film won’t necessarily pick up on the source material like their parents will. Even famous films like The Great Escape (1963) and Seven Samurai (1954) have received the animated treatment in Chicken Run (2000) and A Bug’s Life (1998), respectively. While I enjoyed these animated films as a child, it wasn’t until I was older that I realized I’d seen these plots somewhere else before. Unlike Treasure Planet (2002), it took me some time to realize The Lion King (1994) was William Shakespeare’s Hamlet in disguise. Even though it’s not a direct adaptation, many of the main characters are there. Simba is Hamlet, Scar is Claudius, and even Timon and Pumbaa are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Obviously, some of the more violent and dramatic moments from the play were toned down in the animation, but the main thrust of Hamlet still lies there in the African plains.

Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) is the male cub born to Mufasa (James Earl Jones), the leader of a pride of African lions. Because Simba is now next in line to the throne, Scar (Jeremy Irons) sets about trying to kill both Mufasa and Simba so he can become king. While his plan to use a wildebeest stampede to kill them both only kills Mufasa, Scar convinces Simba it’s the cub’s fault and forces him into exile. Simba (Matthew Broderick), having now grown up in the jungle with his friends Timon (Nathan Lane) and Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella), returns to the Pride Lands to confront his uncle Scar. Along the way, he is visited by the ghost of Mufasa, who tells him he is the rightful king of the land. Once back home, with the help of the lionesses, Simba fights Scar and eventually wins, sending him into exile. Unfortunately, Scar’s hyena henchmen have different plans, as they overheard him betray them to everyone.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 different Disney adaptations

#291. Treasure Island

Like many of the classics of literature created over the centuries, Treasure Island has seen a number of different film adaptations over the years. This adventure, written by Robert Louis Stevenson in the late 19th Century, is the basis of much of our fictional understanding of pirates. We likely wouldn’t have X-marked treasure maps or one-legged sailors with parrots were it not for this novel. What’s interesting is the differing variety of film adaptations of this work. They have come in many varieties and interpretations including animated films, films with puppets, and science fiction retellings. The story itself has also transcended international boundaries, having been adapted in Russian, Japanese, French, and Italian. This week’s two films look at some unique adaptations of the classic tale of Treasure Island.

Muppet Treasure IslandMuppet Treasure Island
Year: 1996
Rating: G
Length: 99 minutes / 1.65 hours

Those who are familiar with the Muppets know that these comedic puppets often represent real animals. From Fozzie Bear to Kermit the Frog to Miss Piggy, each of these animals has their own personality and characterizations. However, Muppet Treasure Island (1996) was not the first adaptation of this story to feature animals as some of the characters. The Japanese animated film, Animal Treasure Island (1971) pre-dates the Muppet film by a few decades. They can’t even claim a mixture of live-action and another medium (like puppetry or animation), because the two-part Russian version of Treasure Island (1988) interspersed live-action sequences with animated ones (albeit, not as well as other films have done) to tell the tale of mutiny on the high seas. Still, having a version of the story done by the Muppets gives a comedic look at this treasure-hunting adventure.

Upon receiving a treasure map from his friend, Billy Bones (Billy Connolly), Jim Hawkins (Kevin Bishop) and his friends Gonzo and Rizzo set out to find the treasure. Unfortunately, once they are able to board a ship that will take them there, a mutiny breaks out amongst the pirates of the crew. Bones had warned Jim of a man named “Long John Silver” (Tim Curry), who was the cook of the ship until he took over as captain during the mutiny. Silver and Jim had already developed some semblance of a friendship, so his treachery makes Jim unable to trust the former cook. Once on the island, the pirates finally discover the hiding place of the treasure using the map, only to learn that the locals, led by Benjamina Gunn (Miss Piggy) have taken the treasure somewhere else. With the crew able to defeat the pirates and re-commandeer the ship, Silver is left alone on a desert island while Jim becomes a naval captain.

Treasure PlanetTreasure Planet
Year: 2002
Rating: PG
Length: 95 minutes / 1.58 hours

Disney has been no stranger to the story of Treasure Island. In fact, their very first, completely live-action film was none other than Treasure Island (1950). This version even holds the distinction of being the first adaptation of the story made in color. If we include the aforementioned Muppet version of Treasure Island with this 1950 version, Disney has done three different adaptations of the same story. While the genre-crossing, sci-fi adaptation of Treasure Planet (2002) is certainly a new way of telling Robert Louis Stevenson’s story, it wasn’t even the first time it had been done. Treasure Island in Outer Space (1987) (or Il Pianeta Del Tesoro in its original Italian) sets the classic tale in the year 2300 in outer space. While this Italian version had Anthony Quinn portraying Long John Silver, something about the unlimited capability of animation made Treasure Planet much more the visual spectacle.

As a child, Jim Hawkins (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) was inspired by the tales of Captain Flint, a pirate who was rumored to arrive and depart almost instantaneously from the ships he ransacked. Now a teenager being raised by his single mother, Jim finds a crashed spaceship near their inn and is given a holo-orb by the pilot of the ship, Billy Bones (Patrick McGoohan), along with a warning to watch out for a cyborg. Recognizing the orb is a map to Flint’s “Treasure Planet”, Jim boards the RLS Legacy and is sent to work in the galley with the half-robot cook, John Silver (Brian Murray). Silver is revealed to be the “cyborg” mentioned earlier by Bones as he leads the crew to mutiny. This forces Jim to use the orb, which is revealed to open portals to anywhere in the universe, including the center of Treasure Planet, where the booby-trapped treasure horde is now set to explode.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 Treasure Island tales

#261. Brad Bird

Have you ever had a dream job as a child? Many kids will look around and determine that they want to be firemen, police officers, astronauts, and doctors as their dream profession. Of course, once many of them realize the kind of work required to obtain these dream jobs, most children give up on these dreams to obtain employment in something more practical. That being said, there are those special few kids who work hard at obtaining their dream job. Brad Bird is one of the examples of someone who made it into his dream profession. As a child, he set out to become an animator, which brought him attention and scholarships from Disney (he was even mentored by one of Disney’s best animators). The proof of his success in animation is in the films he has directed. This week’s two films highlight some of the animated and non-animated films Brad Bird has directed.

The IncrediblesThe Incredibles
Year: 2004
Rating: PG
Length: 115 minutes / 1.92 hours

After Bird had completed his education at Cal Arts (along with classmates John Lasseter and Tim Burton), he dove into the animation world. Working The Simpsons for its early seasons, Bird eventually directed his first full-length animated film: The Iron Giant (1999). Despite the film not performing well in the box office, many consider it to be an animated classic. Due to his connection with John Lasseter, Bird approached Pixar and was able to create The Incredibles (2004). This film earned him his first Oscar for Best Animated Feature. Three years later, Bird would be tapped to direct Ratatouille (2007), thus earning him another Best Animated Feature Oscar. While this was the last animated feature that Brad Bird directed, he is slated to direct the sequel to The Incredibles in 2019, perhaps earning him another Oscar in the process.

Bob Parr (Craig T. Nelson) is tired of his suburban life. Trapped in a thankless job where he can’t help anyone, Bob longs for the past where he could live up to his potential as a superhero. At home, he and his wife, Helen (Holly Hunter) try to keep their identities hidden, since superheroes are now outlawed. After getting fired from his job, Bob receives an invitation to don the suit of Mr. Incredible again to assist in defeating a rampaging robot on Nomanisan Island. This change in lifestyle reinvigorates Bob, which causes Helen to suspect he is having an affair. Investigating further, she accidentally puts herself and her children in danger as they fly to the mysterious island. Once there, they must fight their way back to civilization to save the citizens of Metroville from another rampaging robot.

Mission Impossible: Ghost ProtocolMission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Year: 2011
Rating: PG-13
Length: 133 minutes / 2.22 hours

While Brad Bird has focused on animation for a lot of his career, he has breached the realm of live-action films. Despite the somewhat limited abilities of live-action when compared to animation, Bird has had mixed success in the medium. His most recent foray into live-action, Tomorrowland (2015), was not very well received by critics or audiences. However, his addition to the Mission: Impossible franchise, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011), not only revitalized the franchise, but also set a record as the most successful film in the franchise to date. With only a few films in total under Brad Bird’s belt, I would be interested to see if another live-action film were to follow in the Tomorrowland footsteps or in the more successful footsteps of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.

After breaking Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) out of a Moscow prison, the IMF team then proceeds to infiltrate the Kremlin in order to find information on someone named “Cobalt”. Unfortunately, the Kremlin is destroyed in such a way that Ethan and his team are suspected to be the perpetrators. After this incident, the “Ghost Protocol” is enacted, which means that the United States will disavow any secret agents while also providing them with latitude to go after the mastermind behind the attack. Now the IMF team has tracked Cobalt to Dubai, where he plans to attack the U.S. with Russian nuclear missiles in order to instigate both sides into an all-out war. While Cobalt succeeds in launching a missile from a submarine, Ethan and his team are quickly working to disable the warhead before it destroys San Francisco.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 of the best by Brad Bird

Bacon #: 2 (The Incredibles / Holly Hunter -> End of the Line / Kevin Bacon)

#260. Pixar

When it comes to cutting-edge computer animation, one name stands high above the rest: Pixar. With each film that they release, they perfect their techniques to create realistic environments and characters through the use of computers. While Dreamworks has had some limited success against the powerhouse that is Pixar, each and every time a Pixar film is released, they up the “wow” factor of the visuals they are able to create. While there was a time when Pixar was starting to lack in the plot department (something they usually emphasized), they seem to have fixed whatever their issues were and are now creating quality material once again. And even though they have started to rely on their own franchises to create new material (via sequels), they do occasionally have a new, brilliant idea. This week’s two films highlight some of the best that Pixar has to offer.

Finding NemoFinding Nemo
Year: 2003
Rating: G
Length: 100 minutes / 1.67 hours

It is somewhat unfortunate that the Animated Feature Oscar was not introduced until the 21st century, because some of Pixar’s early works would certainly have won. While Toy Story (1995) took home a Special Achievement Oscar for being the first, full-length computer animated film, it wasn’t until Finding Nemo (2003) when Pixar would take home the coveted gold statuette. From that point until 2012, they have taken home most of the Best Animated Feature Oscars for the years they have released a film (the exceptions of course being for Cars (2006) and Cars 2 (2011)). Two of Pixar’s films have even gone so far as to have been nominated for Best Picture: Up (2009) and Toy Story 3 (2010). Time will tell if this year’s Finding Dory (2016) will follow in its predecessor’s footsteps and snag another Oscar for Pixar.

After Nemo (Alexander Gould) is stolen by a scuba diver during a field trip, his father, Marlin (Albert Brooks), sets out to rescue him. Marlin’s urge to protect his son is strong due to an incident with a barracuda that killed his wife and almost every unborn child the two of them were going to have. Along the way, Marlin befriends a ditzy fish by the name of Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) who helps him along the journey from the Great Barrier Reef into Sydney, Australia. Despite the setbacks of the deep of the ocean, a minefield, a collection of recovering sharks, and a swarm of deadly jellyfish, the two manage to safely get to their destination. Meanwhile, Nemo has been integrated into the society of fish occupying a dentist’s aquarium. Through their help, they eventually get him out of the dentist office and back into the sea. Once there, it still takes some luck to rejoin the father and son.

The IncrediblesThe Incredibles
Year: 2004
Rating: PG
Length: 115 minutes / 1.92 hours

Early on in Pixar’s films, it was clear they didn’t want to animate people. I don’t blame them, since the “uncanny valley” is a difficult gap to cross. With main characters being toys, bugs, monsters, fish, and cars, The Incredibles (2004) was their first foray into having people as main characters. While these films are rare for them, they are gradually getting better at it. Ratatouille (2007), WALL-E (2008), Up (2009), Brave (2012), Inside Out (2015), and The Good Dinosaur (2015) all have humans in main roles, but the way they’ve been able to keep these characters from falling into the uncanny valley is to render them to look more cartoonish than realistic. While they might seem out of place in the hyper-realistic settings, these humans aren’t rejected by our brains. I look forward to what the characters from The Incredibles will look like in their 2019 sequel.

Even though the “Glory Years” of superheroes are long gone, Robert Parr (Craig T. Nelson), the super formerly known as Mr. Incredible, longs to continue crime-fighting. His entire family struggles with having superior abilities, but being unable to use them in public. When Bob is contacted by the mysterious Mirage (Elizabeth Peña) with an opportunity to test out battle droids on Nomanisan Island, he jumps at the opportunity. Unfortunately, the purpose of the droids is much more sinister, since their creator, Syndrome (Jason Lee), wants to create a world where he alone can make normal people “super”. Suspicious of her husband’s activities, Helen Parr (Holly Hunter), aka Elastigirl, follows him to the island. When she finds her children are with her, the entire family teams up to take down Syndrome and stop his nefarious plans.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 perfect Pixar pieces

 

#244. Archer Heroines

Things haven’t changed until recently, but Hollywood has been a terrible place to find female role models on the big screen. There are probably many reasons for this, but the main one is likely that the film industry is still dominated by men. As a result, many genres have their female roles relegated to that of a supporting status. Fortunately, the uptick in dominant, well-crafted female protagonists across all genres has been a welcome adjustment. Perhaps in response to this, archers have been featured more frequently in film, both on the small and big screens. Not all archers are female, but there were a few years that recently gave these archer heroines the spotlight. This week’s two films examine two strong female role models who just so happen to exhibit their independence through their skill with a bow and arrow.

BraveBrave
Year: 2012
Rating: PG
Length: 93 minutes / 1.55 hours

Disney has always cornered the market on the “princess movie”. And while Brave (2012) wasn’t directly under the Disney label (because Pixar made it), it carries the weight of decades of the princess trope on its shoulders. It is interesting to see how the perception of women has changed throughout the years, mostly in how they are portrayed in these films. The early films, such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1940), Cinderella (1950), and Sleeping Beauty (1959) all have women trying to complete their lives by finding a man to save them. During the Disney Renaissance of the 1990’s, including The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Pocahontas (1995), and Mulan (1998), we see a shift toward independence. When CGI became the medium of choice for animation, the evolution of women’s liberation had completed with Brave (2012).

From a young age, Merida Dunbroch (Kelly Macdonald) has been enhancing her skill in archery. This determination is likely due to an incident shortly after she received her bow and arrow as a gift which resulted in her father, King Fergus (Billy Connolly), losing his left leg to a bear attack. Even though she has become an expert archer, her parents still feel the need to protect her by offering her hand in marriage to the winner of the Highland Games. By exploiting the rules of the Games, she competes in the archery competition and wins, thus retaining her right to choose her husband. This angers the other clans, but not nearly as much as her mother, Elinor (Emma Thompson). After running away into the woods, Merida accidentally curses her mother and must now mend their relationship to return the kingdom to the status quo.

The Hunger GamesThe Hunger Games
Year: 2012
Rating: PG-13
Length: 142 minutes / 2.37 hours

It has taken some time, but the science fiction genre has made great strides in how it portrays women. Gone are the days of the scantily clad damsels held in the clutches of alien invaders. Now, we see that women can be as bad-ass as some of the men. Characters like Ripley from Alien (1979) and Sarah Connor from Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) show that sometimes men aren’t needed to save a woman in distress. Even though the Hunger Games series highlights the struggle between a relationship and survival, Katniss Everdeen always manages to fight to keep both. Her skill with a bow and arrow rivals that of superheroes like Hawkeye (from The Avengers (2012)), which just brings to light that archery was really in vogue during 2012. With the film series complete, Katniss’ inclusion in modern popular culture has been firmly fixed.

Living in District 12, the poorest of the districts of Panem, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) uses her skills as an archer to keep her family fed. Unfortunately, when her sister is called as one of the tributes for the annual Hunger Games, the only way Katniss can save her is to volunteer in her stead. With Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), the two head to the Capitol to be presented as two of 24 tributes. After the pageantry is finished, they find themselves in a literal fight for their lives as the Hunger Games commence. Many are killed and alliances are formed as the battle for survival rages on. Katniss manages to survive by using the skills she has gained from living in District 12, hunting and camping her way toward victory. When only Katniss and Peeta remain, the tough decision now stands between them to determine who will win and who will die.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 fletching females

#191. The Anthology

The majority of film plots are created by stringing together scenes of dialogue or action to tell a story. These segments cannot stand on their own very well, and need the rest of the film’s context to be understood. But, what if a scene contains an entire plot? What if these segments are almost completely unrelated to each other? Sure, short films have been made that would fit the first description, but what if a film was comprised entirely of short films? These feature-length movies are known as “anthologies”. Often, the anthology film will have a common theme that will tie the independent segments together, but many times these films are just a way to get in as many gags as possible in the shortest amount of time. This week’s two films are anthologies, but are anthologies for two completely different reasons.

                                                     History of the World, Part 1History of the World, Part 1
Year: 1981
Rating: R
Length: 92 minutes / 1.53 hours

Sketch comedy is perhaps one of the most prolific users of the anthology structure. Most jokes don’t take more than a few minutes to set up and deliver a punchline. Furthermore, if these comedic segments are not really related to each other, the anthology is the best way to present them. One of the best examples of the comedic anthology is The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977), which is a series of unrelated comedy sketches. Of course, the comedy group best known for comedy sketches would be Monty Python. The film that best utilizes their skill for sketches, and is perhaps the closest approximation of a Flying Circus movie, would be The Meaning of Life (1983). This anthology follows a bit more of a structure, as it progresses through the stages of a person’s life, albeit not the same person.

Another structured anthology film would be that of History of the World, Part 1. While there’s not nearly the amount of character parallels like in Three Ages (1923) or character cross-linking like in Cloud Atlas (2012), the theme of this Mel Brooks comedy is that of history. As such, the anthology of sketches is arranged chronologically, starting near the beginning of civilization. From the creation of many ideas and products in the Stone Age, the next sketch highlights the events of the Old Testament. Even within these sketches, other sketches can reside. The logical transition for the film is then to a sketch about the Roman Empire, which pulls in some New Testament references. After a brief stop-over at the Spanish Inquisition for a big, musical number, the film concludes with the French Revolution, as well as a few previews of the unmade “Part 2”.

FantasiaFantasia
Year: 1940
Rating: G
Length: 125 minutes / 2.08 hours

One of the challenges of animation is continuity. Because characters must be drawn in the same way, and the animation must abide by the same style throughout a film, sometimes these movies would take an incredibly long time to create (obviously, before the heavy use of computers). One way to speed up production would be to have several animation teams working on shorter segments that were unrelated to each other. Furthermore, the music for a film is usually composed so that it carries a melodic theme throughout. However, if famous pieces of music are the structure of the film, it can be difficult to tie these different musical works together to a coherent narrative. Granted, if the pieces are all performed by the same person, like in Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993), the performer can be the theme of the anthology. However, Fantasia is not like that.

Anyone who is familiar with classical music will know that the animation of Warner Brothers and Walt Disney have ingrained certain musical pieces into our cultural fabric. Fantasia was meant as an ever-evolving film. New segments were meant to be inserted in subsequent re-releases, thus expanding the film’s anthology as time progressed and the animated sequences were completed. Unfortunately, only Fantasia 2000 stands as the sequel to this groundbreaking film. Still, Fantasia’s legacy is seen in how easy it is to recognize pieces like Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (Bach), the Nutcracker Suite (Tchaikovsky), The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Dukas), Rite of Spring (Stravinsky), The Pastoral Symphony (Beethoven), Dance of the Hours (Ponchielli), Night on Bald Mountain (Mussorgsky), and Ave Maria (Schubert).

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 awesome anthologies