Australian Council on Children and the Media

Fantasia

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Short takes

Not suitable under 6; parental guidance to 7 (scary scenes, stylised nudity, adult themes (alcohol consumption, romance), and out-dated cultural / gender-related depictions)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Fantasia
  • a review of Fantasia completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 16 June 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 6 Not suitable due to scary scenes, and potential lack of interest.
Children aged 6–7 Parental guidance recommended due to scary scenes, some stylised nudity, some adult themes (alcohol consumption, romance), and some out-dated cultural /gender role depictions.
Children aged 8 and over. Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Fantasia
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: The content is very mild in impact.
Length 126 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Fantasia is undeniably a classic in the Disney family, and it is one of a kind for its unusual and rather experimental format. However, there is not a classic story line, rather, Fantasia takes the viewer on a breathtaking journey of sounds and visuals. In 1938, Walt Disney's original plan was to boost his flagship character, Mickey Mouse, whose popularity was on the decline. The result was a short, animated piece featuring Mickey as ‘The Sorcerer's Apprentice’ – based on Goethe's 1797 poem about an apprentice who attempts to use some of his master's tricks but then does not know how to control the magical beings he created. As a short, stand-alone, the piece would have been difficult to market, therefore it was decided to embed it in a series of other short pieces, all accompanied by classical pieces of music. The audience follows Mickey Mouse as ‘The Sorcerer's Apprentice’; gets to appreciate the beauty and magic of nature and seasons; learns about the birth of our planet, development of life, the reign and demise of dinosaurs; delves into the mythical world of Pegasus, unicorns, centaurs, and God of Wine Bacchus; and witnesses fights between Good and Evil.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Classical music; Fantasy and imagination; Right versus Wrong; Good versus Evil; Life and Death; Love and Romance.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Mickey Mouse, as ‘The Sorcerer's Apprentice’, destroys the broom that came to life, by hacking it into pieces with an axe.
  • In ‘Rite of Spring’, a T-Rex attacks and kills a stegosaurus in a violent fight.
  • In ‘The Pastoral Symphony’, Zeus and Vulcan, God of Thunder, are having a laugh, throwing bolts of lightning at the creatures below.
  • In ‘Night on Bald Mountain’, the demon Chernabog crushes and burns creatures of the dark.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • There are numerous scenes that are quite dark and gloomy with creepy, at times brutal, visuals, accompanied by loud, ominous music.
  • In ‘Rite of Spring’, a scary and evil-looking T-Rex with sharp teeth and claws is seen hunting other dinosaurs. The T-Rex and a Stegosaur fight violently until the Stegosaur gets defeated and is seen closing its eyes, dying. During the scenes showing the extinction of dinosaurs, dinosaurs are seen collapsing and dying, leaving a sea of corpses and skeletons.
  • In ‘Night on Bald Mountain’, the viewer witnesses a winged, demon-like, evil spirit with devil horns, red-glowing eyes, sharp teeth and claws, raising an army of haunted and restless souls from their graves. The devilish creatures, skeletons, monsters, witches, and harpies are very vicious-looking and scary, and some of them get thrown into infernal flames.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • A few of the featured characters are in full nude, for example cupids (angel-like mythical creatures), but they are depicted sexless (you see naked bottoms, but no genitals).
  • In ‘The Pastoral Symphony’, Centaurs and also ‘Centaurettes’ are seen bare-chested, but the female breasts are modestly stylised (no nipples on show).
  • In ‘Night of Bald Mountain’, harpies are briefly seen bare-breasted.
  • Centaurs and Centaurettes are seen courting and falling in love. The depiction of romance represents out-dated cultural and gender stereotypes, with Centaurettes flirting and seducing their male suitors.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • In ‘The Pastoral’, the audience is introduced to Bacchus, the mythical God of Wine. He is seen indulging lots of wine, also giving wine to his donkey, and he is depicted as a happy, clumsy drunkard, stumbling around, hiccupping, and falling over.

Coarse language

  • None noted.

In a nutshell

Fantasia is a remarkable spectacle of visuals and sounds, featuring some of history's most influential classical composers, including Bach, Tschaikowsky, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Ponchielli, Mussorgski, Schubert, and Dukas. Most importantly, Fantasia is a historical sensation, made before the invention of computer-aided animation technology, requiring every single frame to be hand-drawn, coloured-in, photographed and put together in an elaborate process, involving over 1000 artists and technicians. The animation was ground-breaking at the time and still manages to impress more than 80 years later. Not suitable for under 6 and parental guidance is warranted for a young audience to explain the historical context and to guide through some of the dark and scary scenes.

The main message from this movie is that we, as humans, can find enjoyment, stimulation, and inspiration in the aesthetics and harmonious interplay of sounds and visuals.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • the beauty and magic of nature.
  • imagination and fantasy.
  • the cycle of life.
  • light cannot exist without darkness, good cannot exist without evil.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the importance of:

  • appreciating artistic achievements in history – impressively honoured in Fantasia – through introducing the audience to landmark pieces of classical music, as well as breath-taking animation with an incredible sense for aesthetics and detail.
  • observing how conventions, arts and more are changing over time: parents can explore what makes this film from 80 years ago different from today's films, both in the way it was made, and in regard to its contents and the way society is represented.

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