Disney Was On Acid – Fantasia 1940

Mouse

We are starting a new blog series featuring a particular psychedelic film. 

In the interest of discussing good films and the sometimes psychedelic experiences they can emulate, we think you’ll enjoy this series.

The first psychedelic movie we are featuring is Disney’s 1940 Fantasia.

What is better than discovering something for the first time? Discovering it for the second time and being blown away.

I loved this movie as a child and even had the picture book, which is one of my most treasured childhood relics.

So here I am, discovering Fantasia all over again, from scratch, 35 years later. 

Watching it with fresh but familiar eyes taught me so much.

I had no idea that I would instantly feel awestruck and enchanted by the creativity.

Back in the day

And while we’re talking about this, what is it about the creativity of yesteryear?

What is it about the style of expression, imagination, and bravery that made for such interesting art decades ago?

As Time said in this article celebrating Fantasia’s 75th Birthday: 

“Fantasia was not simply a film or a concert. Instead, it was a hybrid, a selection of great orchestral works conducted by Leopold Stokowski, played by the Philadelphia Orchestra and illustrated by Walt Disney.”

The opening scene is of a live orchestra. 

A wide shot of the live performance turns into distorted imagery and then finally into animation.

SO Psychedelic

The animation throughout is fantastical and dreamy and psychedelic. 

For example, one of the opening scenes is of a small group of dancing mushrooms.

I paused the video to start writing this blog because I am enjoying its rediscovery so much.

The use of classical music, repeating and hypnotic visual patterns, fanciful combinations of hippos dancing in tutus, and flowers that look like whirling dervishes.

You just gotta see it for yourself.

Case in point, there’s the famous Mickey scene when he’s a sorcerer’s apprentice.

According to Wikipedia, Mickey Mouse’s popularity was declining in 1938 and this scene is so epic that it revived Mickey Mouse’s career, and captivated our imaginations.

This first part of this iconic scene alone is wildly psychedelic to me. The visuals are utterly exploding with imagination and wonder.

The way Mickey commands the brooms to come to life and then deals with the consequences of his powers are wonderful to see portrayed so beautifully.

One of the things that also struck me in this film is how educational it is. 

The orchestra director explains before each animation what is being represented and its inspiration.

From the law of nature to the big bang and including sound waves, 

Fantasia is a phenomenal audiovisual medium for knowledge but also beauty and creativity.

Dance of Hours

Another iconic scene is called the Dance of Hours

According to Wikipedia, this scene represents the hours of dawn, day (morning), twilight, and night. 

Costume changes and lighting effects reinforce the progression. 

The dance is intended to symbolize the eternal struggle between the forces of light and darkness.

Schedule your date night

Fantasia is a full-length movie and lasts 2 hours.

Grab your favorite snuggle buddy, a drink, and some snacks.

Prepare to be hypnotized. Get comfy, settle in, and be ready to go on a magic carpet ride.

The combination of classical music and unfolding visual patterns does something fascinating to the viewer’s mind and imagination.

I do remain rather convinced that the whole Disney team was flying high throughout the entire production of this animated film, but what do I know? 😬

It’s a beautiful, whimsical, and playful film. Go watch it and report back 🍿

Enjoy!

Let us know in the comments below, and remember to catch me for some one-on-one time in our Facebook group and Discord channel.

As always, flow strong.

Asha

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