Thursday, September 15, 2011

#3: Wordless Stories - Fantasia review, part 3

Night on Bald Mountain, Mussorgsky & Ave Maria, Schubert - a mashup

The last scene I'm choosing to comment on is also the last piece of the film. How interesting that Fantasia should end with two pieces that have religious undertones, in such contrast with one another.

In Night on Bald Mountain, Chernabog (aka Satan) - depicted as a huge batlike demon coming out of the face of a mountain, gathers his demonic followers to worship him. The ordeal unfolds into destruction and darkness, until, seamlessly, the music transitions to Ave Maria by the sound of clear, loud church bells. These bells seem to force the dispersion of  all of the demons, while also leaving Chernabog weakened and unable to continue his 'worship service'.

The following Ave Maria sequence seems a little boring, in fact, compared to the fury of activity on Bald Mountain. But I found this contrast to be quite intriguing. Once again, we see that evil does not have the last say! While the quiet worshippers make their procession to the cathedral, it is clear that the power of good, while subtle, is far greater than that of Satan and his followers. I found myself feeling encouraged (and, okay, slightly sleepy) at this reminder of God's faithfulness in a world where the presence of evil is so real. 

Concluding thoughts about Fantasia

Fantasia was clearly not made for children or even the average moviegoer, necessarily. It makes sense, then, that it did not end up doing well financially when it was released. However, I think there is something very beautiful about the art that was created here. It is such a unique piece of film that highlights the best of animation and the best of classical music. It's rare to have a piece of art say so much and tell such interesting stories without a single word.

1 comment:

  1. Look at me going through and commenting on all kinds of things out of the blue. As a music buff (several years of Musicology classes will do that) I love Fantasia, but I have to say that the Night on Bald Mountain movement always terrified me as a kid. The Ave Maria always brought me back to normality.

    I also have to say that I think the coolest thing about the juxtaposition of these two pieces is that the transition is seamless. Night on Bald Mountain ends with, if I remember correctly, a clarinet playing a G, and the arrangement of Ave Maria starts with a clarinet playing a G, so in the movie they chose to carry the note over. That transition is like a sunrise from the dark night to a bright morning (yes, huge cliche).