Top 10 Classical Pieces I Want to See in a Fantasia-esque Film

I’ve made no secret that my favorite Disney film is Fantasia.  I saw a video saying that it was part of what they called the animation Dark Ages.  I couldn’t possibly disagree more.  Animation will NEVER be as good as it was then.  The risks they could take, and the level of detail and freedom have never been what they once were.  Not to mention Disney became a company that is pure evil and ruined destroyed 2D animation because it didn’t make enough money for them anymore.  So yeah.

But this movie shaped my love of 2D animation and classical music.  I lament with every fiber of my being how 2D animation died in this country.  It breaks my fucking heart.  The original idea behind Fantasia is that it would be an ever-evolving piece, showcasing all kinds of animation and music, with no two showing being the same.  Walt Disney’s ambition is commendable, but the film itself nearly bankrupted the studio, so the idea of making another one right after that was a little beyond them.  There was a sequel made so many years later, but it failed to capture the magic of the original.

I was at work one day when I heard a piece of music come on.  See, I hijacked the radio there and we play classical music all day.  It probably drives my coworker nuts, but since they said nobody has control over the radio and I was told to play whatever I want, and the oldies station plays the same stuff over and over again, I decided to go with music that would keep my attention and wouldn’t annoy me.  This beautiful piece came on and immediately I knew what to write about – what pieces I would include if the concept behind Fantasia would ever be taken up by another studio and run with.  It’s a small dream, but here we got.  These are the top 10 pieces I want to see in another film that uses the same concept as Fantasia – taking classical music, and putting animation to it.  Letting animators hearts run free and seeing what they come up with.

I will be attaching images with each of these choices to show what comes to my mind, but I am all over letting other creators have free reign to have their own ideas.  I will also have all the pieces linked on their name, so listen to them and tell me what you come up with.  Let’s do this!

10. Cuban Overture
George Gershwin
Gershwin had this interesting thing where he would write music about the places I figure he must have been.  An American in Paris was a close contender to this spot, but Cuban Overture won out because it.  This piece is so energized!  And for my own idea, I wanted to make a bit being about Latin America.  More of one from antiquity, since modern Latin America has problems.  Is it romanticizing the area?  Perhaps.  But I won’t apologize for that.  The truth about the world is ugly.  We all want to make the world a prettier place in our minds.  Instead of this being a flowing narrative, having it be a spectacle of all the things a character we follow coming across sounds even better.  Then it all ends with them taking part in some festivities and closing out the first of what will hopefully be a lot of fun days.  Or maybe be a story of their journey across a period of time and them flying home at the end, thinking about coming back.

9. Moldau
Smetana
Listening to the soft, gentle rhythms of this piece, what comes to mind is a very fantastical place.  This is a world of magic, mystery.  I thought of the piece in Fantasia with the fairies.  In the process of getting a piece of art to go with what I saw my vision, I stumbled across a brilliant moment – a human entering this world!  I know, about as original as a ham sandwich, but the way I see it, nothing is original.  It’s all in the execution.  Just like the last piece, the narrative here is what the person sees.  And I don’t just want it explained at all.  The idea behind this format is no words.  The audience has to come to their own conclusions.  Maybe have some absolutely absurd things, with the character and yourself wondering what to make of it all.  Then, like any good Nutcracker story, it has them going back to the real world, not knowing what to think of it all.

8. Spirit Garden
Toru Takemitsu
Something that doesn’t get enough credit in the very academic music community is some of the stuff that comes out of other countries.  Japan has a history of very interesting music, along with some haunting classical pieces.  This is one of them.  I also figure, since we’re representing Japanese classical music, why not represent their art style?  This piece is dark.  I like that.  The cold tones make me think of an alien realm.  For this, I would want there to be NO central character.  This is all about imagery for the audience.  A strange, bizarre world.  Too much like the last piece?  Perhaps.  One may have to be sacrificed for the other.  Or maybe another idea for this.  But it’s weird, off-putting darkness is too good for me not to want it on this list.

7. Afro-American Symphony
William Grant Still
Something people seem to think about me, because I have railed against forced diversity so much is that I hate diversity on its merits.  That couldn’t be farther from the truth.  In reality, there are some incredibly diverse things that I absolutely love.  And a piece of music about the black community that has a great beat, clearly gets some inspiration from jazz, and seems to perfectly tell the story about a person’s day fits so well.  That’s what I imagine this to be.  Some black kid and the story about their day.  The ups, downs, and messy bits.  So long as it could avoid becoming preachy or having the same forced diversity I rail again, then I am all in.  It’s a little dream.

6. In the Hall of the Mountain King
Grieg
Time to break up the fantastical and get into some of the darker stuff.  This is one of my favorite pieces that goes SO well with creepy visuals.  This piece would be short, but my vision for it is crystal clear.  It begins at the entrance to an old castle.  The camera guides you through the dilapidated halls.  Moonlight shines in, painting shadows everywhere and having you feeling on edge.  I want to creep all the people out!  The dark shadows move with the camera, heading ever inward, toward the central chamber.  The closer you get, the more off-putting it becomes.  Eventually, you can see the shadows moving in.  Lights start turning on.  Strange lights with blue flame.  It has you feeling nervous.  Very, very nervous.  Then, the huge door!  This is it.  The central hall.  Right as the music swells up, it bursts in.  Then, all manner of creatures and persons are in there, with madness and eclectic dancing all about.  At the head of the table, you see a king who looks boistrous, with a mad look in his eye!  He laugh and gets in on the merriment.  Lights and shadows everywhere.  Finally, the camera is backing out fast, and the door slams shut!  Oh yeah…

5. Triumphmarsch und Chor
Guiseppe Verdi
This piece has come to mind specifically because of a girly-mate of mine who is in the Navy, who I don’t get to see nearly enough.  Trying to find artwork to go with this was horrible.  SO much artwork surrounding the military is all about sucking the military’s dick or showing off how badass America is.  And that’s not the military I am picturing.  I want these people to be regal!  I want it to be a march of a military who is in dress uniform that looks like the kind you can hang sword from.  Marching through the streets of a very well-to do city.  Wanna fuck with the sensibilities of America?  I do.  Let’s have there be newspapers where the headlines are all in German, so only those who speak German will know what they’re getting on about.  Have it be that there was a war won.  Don’t worry, this isn’t Nazis.  I’m not an edgelord.  Regal troops running triumphant from a campaign, marching in tune.  If you really wanted to get into the dark stuff, have them thinking about battle.

For this piece, I was thinking about animation which actually goes with the style in the pic I have attached with this.  Bright, colorful, and personable.  Since the piece becomes more cordial later, have there be a couple characters we follow, and their part in all the festivities.  But I want to keep this all about them coming home, with everyone cheering their name.

4. Piano Concerto #2
Rachmaninoff
In addition to wanting to run the gamut of various cultures that have given us classical music, I wanted to run the gamut on emotions as well.  This piece is very, very sad.  It tells a story of loss, pain, and trying to find one’s self.  I like that.  Maybe it’s just my depression that I have had to and will always have to live with that’s taking, but I like it.  But don’t go thinking that I want to have you, the audience, feeling miserable with me.  I want this piece to be about the person and the legacy of feeling loss, mourning, or just the grim reality of life.  With that in mind, here’s what I came up with for the visual element – an old man.  Someone who has had a long life, and seen many things.  Maybe have it be about the love of his life and the life they shared.  Remember how Up had us seeing a couple growing up and then growing old?  Well, I like that concept, and instead of there being a silly Pixar movie attached, I want to run with it all the way.  Have the film showcase this man’s life, his loves, his passion, and then how it all comes to an end.  Maybe have it be a metaphorical and literal journey of him walking a path to where his journey ends.  Oh, and because he is old, let’s give him a cat to take that last journey with.  An old timer that has shared the last 20 years with him on his journey.  It would end with them reaching that destination, and the music and visuals coming to show it all coming to an end.

3. Clair de Lune
Claude Debussy
This is my favorite piece of classical music of all time.  Now, Disney had done a version of this for their original Fantasia film, but it had to be cut.  Why?  I’ll never know.  The original version of it did get released, but I wanted to do my own take.  In the original Fantasia, they opened with a piece that had you thinking about the music first and then going into the visual style.  It opened with the audience being conscious of the orchestra, and then subsequently getting into abstract animation.  I like that idea.  But instead of it being an orchestra, I want it to be someone at a piano.  This would initially involve rotoscoping animation, but over time it would get more fantastical as the piece goes on.  Where would the animation go?  Who can say.  I just know where I want it to start.  Where it finishes is entirely up to the animators who bring it to life.  That’s just my thought.  I love this piece.  Makes me think of my grandmother on my old man’s side.  She loved it too.  I think she would like that too.

2. The Planets Suite
Gustav Holst
Now, here is a piece that could be it’s own film.  In fact, I kind of want it to be.  Have each planet’s section be a different showcase of a different kind of animation and a different vision.  Lots of ideas here.  Tons.  Too many.  But the reason I put this on the list is because there’s one more that I want to showcase on here.  Several years ago, someone decided to write another piece to be added to Holst’s vision.  See, he never wrote one for Earth.  So they called it “Earth, the bringer of life.”  I like it!  Not only does it go with his style of composition, but it rounds it all out nicely.  I want to have it featured as well.  I guess this was more about telling you about this addition than what I want done with it, but I think its worth bringing up.  This Suite has so much potential, and as I said, I genuinely do think it could and should be its own film in this vein, with each part serving to accompany its own ideas.

And the piece that I want most, that started all of this is…

1. Daphnis et Chloe
Maurice Ravel
As I said this is the piece I heard on the radio.  The one that I couldn’t stop thinking about.  It was magic!  I think it still is.  It runs the gamut of tones, emotions, and even has choral elements inside it as well.  I love it.  This piece is one I have grown to love almost overnight.  Should I ever get to hear it in person, my life may be complete right then.  Uncertain.  So, with that in mind, what animation elements do I want here?  I’ll tell you.  I want to go big!  Something sweeping, large, and epic!  In my mind, that means one thing – dragon riders!  With that, we can have a sweeping landscape.  Have it be the story of a person who is looking to join the ranks of the riders.  Or the story of a day in the life of one.  Whatever the case, that’s what I want to see.  The visuals need to be a cut above the rest.  It has to be detailed and sublime.  I want to see a ton of riders.  I want to see their world.  This has to be a place I can damn-near touch!  Yes, that’s what I want.

What about you?  What do you all hear in any of this?  What pieces would you like to see if you could do this?  If I had tens of millions of dollars, I’d bring it to you.  Hand to Groj, I would.

Until next time, a quote,

“Walt Disney once described animation as a voyage of discovery, into the realms of color, sound, and motion.” – Angela Lansbury, Fantasia 2000

Peace out,

Maverick

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4 thoughts on “Top 10 Classical Pieces I Want to See in a Fantasia-esque Film

    • Same with the idea you had about ranking Joker performances, I wouldn’t have enough to say. But interesting thought. I can give you a basic rundown now.
      8. The Pastoral Symphony
      7. Rhapsody in Blue
      6. Pines of Rome
      5. The Nutcracker
      4. Clair de Lune (Look up the version from the original film that was cut. It’s pretty great stuff, set to my favorite classical piece of all time)
      3. The Firebird
      2. A Night on Bald Mountain
      1. The Rite of Spring

      And that’s as far as I can go for a list of my favorites.

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