Thursday, August 12, 2010

Beautiful Music

Fantasia (circa 1940) was just aired on the Disney Channel, and I'm glad I caught it.

It brings back happy "laserdisk" days for me. Fifteen or so years ago, we would rent a copy of Fantasia from the neighborhood video store and I would repeatedly watch two tracks: The Nutcracker Suite and The Pastoral Symphony.

The Nutcracker Suite had me at the Dance of The Sugar Plum Fairy, and the fancy goldfish. The Pastoral Symphony I think started my long-term relationship with the whimsical.

Tonight's recap, however, allowed me to appreciate the other tracks featured in Disney's third full-length animated production. I won't go into detail of all 8 interpretations, you can look that up in wikipedia, just to my interpretation of the final mash up of the orchestra.

The last track is a long play of (1st) Night on Bald Mountain and (2nd) Ave Maria was, and as a kid back then, it was the most (1st) scary and (2nd) most boring for me. I would always skip this last track and repeat from the Nutcracker Suite. I guess I didn't fully understand the message the Disney Cartoonists wanted to put across. I was too young, likely with no concrete experience of good and evil, to understand. I suppose that's one of the great advantages of aging, appreciating art better. The narrator put it as simply as possible in his introduction to the track: "A comparison of the profane and sacred" and even though in the artistic terms of today, the visual could be seen as too literal, I still think it was perfectly executed.

Night on Bald Mountain eeriely illustrates how evil envelopes the earth in the dark of night. The dancing demons can still give me nightmares. But the horrors were quickly replaced by calm and serenity when Ave Maria started to intervene. The music of the Philidelphia Orchestra (as directed by Leopold Stokowski) along with the fervently prayerful artistry of the Disney cartoonists more than tipped the balance for the side of good.

Tonight, Ave Maria gave me a sense of peace, a feeling that even though there are truly real evils in this world, simple acts of kindness and small prayers swing back the scale to love. Nothing grand or majestic need be done. Because the smallest of gestures of good have profound effects on the world.

I'm so happy I was able to watch Fantasia again tonight. It's an absolutely beloved classic. If you have children, or pamangkins, I highly recommend this feature. :)

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