Woody's
 Classic Movie Reviews

Fantasia Movie Review

LEOPOLD A. STOKOWSKI
 ( Apr 1882 -- Sep 1977 )

 
Stokowski’s early life is a bit mysterious because he spoke with a non-English accent and during his life gave his birth year as 1887 sometimes and other times claimed he was born in Krakow, Poland or Pomerania, Germany. His birth certificate shows he was born in London to a father of Polish ancestry and an Irish-born mother. Something of a child prodigy, he entered the Royal Academy of Music at age 13, the youngest student in the school. He sang in a church choir and became assistant organist at The Temple Church. At age 16 he was elected to membership in the Royal College of Organists and in 1902 was appointed organist and choir director of St. James Church in Piccadilly and earned a bachelor’s degree in music from The Queen’s College at Oxford University. He began his American career in 1905 as organist and choir director at St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York. He later moved to Paris to study conducting and in 1909 became conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, where he introduced the concept of “pop concerts.” He promoted popular as well as classical music throughout his career. Becoming director of the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1912, he created what became known as the “Philadelphia Sound” with various innovations in orchestral presentations. He began conducting “free hand” (without a baton) in 1929 and that became his trademark style. His numerous accomplishments include founding the All-American Youth Orchestra, the New York City Symphony and the Hollywood Bowl Symphony. He made his last public concert appearance in 1975 but continued recording music until a few months before his death at age 95.

Special 4 Disc Set



TITLE:    FANTASIA   

                              

    This Disney magnum opus marries animation and music in a way never done before. Disney was completing work on a short film, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, intended to boost Mickey Mouse's flagging popularity. It became obvious that the higher-than-expected production costs could not be recovered by what the short film could earn. About this time, Disney had dinner with orchestra conductor Leopold Stokowski and described the film. Stokowski said he'd love to conduct a classical music score for the film. One thing led to another and the short film became one of eight animated segments in a feature- length film, each set to a different classical composition, seven of them performed by The Philadelphia Orchestra. Fantasia pioneered the use of stereophonic sound, the first commercial film to do so. 

  

The movie was a money loser for several years, partly because of the extra high costs, especially to install sound equipment in movie theaters that could utilize the stereophonic music track, and partly because World War II cut Hollywood off from the European market. But eventually the film became the 22nd highest-grossing film of all time, adjusted for inflation. In 1942 it received two special Oscars. It's remarkable to realize this masterpiece was created without computer technology or modern special effects devices. After more than 70 years Fantasia continues to be a magical movie experience for both children and adults.

1940, production supervision by Ben Sharpsteen

Watch the Trailer for Fantasia

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