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June 2013: This is no longer an active blog. From this point on Mythulinity will be an archive without new posts. Thank You to all followers and readers for your past contributions and loyalty.

That's the goal for our greater good: Sharing the best manimal/mythical and real male images and info online.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Disney's Fantasia

My earliest memory of manimals is from Disney's "Fantasia" (1940). A bold experiment in cinematic animation.

The section devoted to  a chunk of Beethoven's "Pastoral Symphony" (No. 6) is considered very kitschy these days, but I still love the overall design and, of course, that the time and place depicted is an ancient Greece populated by centaurs, fauns, and pegasi.

However, the time devoted to Bacchus and his unicorn-donkey partner is stupid rather than comical. And in one of the now recognized as most overtly racist and tasteless exercises executed by the Disney Studios, a small black maid servant centaurette is meant as minor comic relief. Disney has cut this segment from the film since 1969. No one has really missed it. Here is a link to that segment: Fantasia Fiasco. (I have been disabled to embed the actual video into the blog by the original poster.) For historical sake, I wish Disney would reinstate the scenes it has edited out. Warner Brothers had the good sense to not butcher their cartoons in service to current political correctness. Disney should be mature and follow suite. I don't see examples of homosexual panic being excised from all film, this is no different. We need to recognize our past history rather than covering it up and sanitizing it.

As an adult, what I find most disappointing about the character design in Fantasia is how tame it had to be. Disney had intended that the centaurs be more sensual, but the codes of the times prevented that sensuality from reaching the screen. So what we are left with are rather definition-free centaurs who have no nipples or muscular development and centaurettes who are so demure they look like they are in Miss Prudy's Home Ec class. The worst of all are the fauns who are reduced to pudgy dwarfs little different from the cherubic angels featured elsewhere. The adult male Pegasus, is boldly black and beautiful and, as I have mentioned elsewhere, is brought to vivid conception in the recent remake of "Clash of The Titans".

The best parts of the piece are when the centaurs are running and gathering grapes for Bacchus's wine and when the storm arrives and we see Zeus and Hephaestus up above in the clouds preparing and hurling lightening bolts. Oddly enough, the gods get the intimation of nipples and muscular chests that are so unfortunately missing from the more beastly centaurs.

"Fantasia" had a marked impact on my boy sensibilities. Every time it would be re-released to theaters I would go see it again and get a different perspective on the centaurs. It was just about the only venue that provided any interpretation of centaurs on screen and definitely the only moving images I knew of.

Despite its many flaws, the matching of visuals to music is impressive. It was meant to be the first of many films wedding classical music to fantastic images. Alas, the film did not do well at the box office. The content was too far beyond Average Joes and Janes of the day to be successful.

This is the cut version. Watch it while you can because Disney may pull it at any moment.:

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