If all this film had done was introduce Joe Average to the joys of classical, and classically Satanic, music, it would have been enough. But the beauty and delight of this masterpiece of animation, editing and orchestrating skills does so much more. “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” warns the audience of what can happen when those without the magic try to wear the magician’s hat. “The Pastorale,” the segment with all those cute little satyrs and nymphs making wine and indulging in a bacchanal, actually demonstrates the faults of Christian repression when their god wakes up and punishes them all for enjoying themselves too much. The final, most magnificent sequence, “Night On Bald Mountain,” celebrates a night of diabolic revels, including ghosts, witches and demons in a frenetic dance overseen by Satan himself. As dawn approaches, however, “Ave Maria” chimes in; Satan and his cohorts crawl away to hide from the light, as rows of the candle-bearing pious invade their forests. Ostensibly, this is a triumph for Sunday morning church-goers over Saturday night partyers. But upon recently viewing this film again, we came to a new conclusion: what this segment really celebrates is Nature herself, and the balance, not the conflict, between light and dark. For the pious are not pacing off to church; they’re walking beneath a natural cathedral of tall trees, illuminating a beautiful and verdant forest, that will once again belong to the night-revelers when darkness falls. The only visions are those of nature; there are no church spires or crucifixes. Indulge in Fantasia, and share it with your little ones.
[- Peggy Nadramia]