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Where every sound creates a picture...

This film consists of animation set to eight musical pieces. Deems Taylor, the narrator, introduces himself and conductor Leopold Stokowski, then describes the three different kinds of music in the program. The first type tells a definite story, and the next, while having no specific plot, suggests a series of definite pictures. The last type is referred to as "absolute" music, that which suggests abstract images and exists solely for its own sake. The first number, "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor," represents the last type of music. In this segment, animated shadows of the orchestra gradually give way to more abstract images. The second number, "The Nutcracker Suite," is an example of the second type of music, and this segment features ballets performed by the fairies who bring the seasons, Hop Low and his fellow mushrooms, goldfish and flowers. The third selection tells a definite story, that of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice." The music is based on a poem by Goethe, which was in turn based upon a 2,000 year old legend. In this number, Mickey Mouse is the young, ambitious apprentice of a powerful sorcerer. When the sorcerer retires for a nap, Mickey takes up his magic hat and acquires his powers, using them to enchant a broom to carry in water. Mickey falls asleep, and while he dreams of enchanting the universe, the broom carries in more and more water until Mickey is awakened by a flood. Mickey's efforts to correct the situation result in catastrophe, but finally the sorcerer appears and restores order. The fourth number, "Rite of Spring," illustrates the story of evolution, showing how the Earth was formed and how life grew from one-celled sea creatures to mighty dinosaurs. The dinosaurs eventually die, and evolution continues.

The next segment, "The Pastoral Symphony," presents a lovely day on Mt. Olympus, where cherubs, fauns, unicorns, pegasuses, centaurs and centaurettes frolic. Bacchus, the god of wine, arrives with his trusty steed Jacchus, and a bacchanal begins, only to be interrupted by Zeus and Vulcan, who shower lightning bolts on the merrymakers. Zeus eventually wearies of his game and peace is restored as Isis, the goddess of the rainbow, spreads a rainbow over the land. Apollo drives his sun chariot across the sky, and as he disappears, Morpheus, the god of sleep, draws his blanket of night over everyone. The mythic creatures fall asleep as Diana shoots an arrow of fire and covers the sky with stars. The sixth selection is "Dance of the Hours." This ballet, depicting the passage of time, is performed by a talented corps of ostriches, hippos, elephants and alligators, who represent morning, day, evening and night. The final two numbers, "Night on Bald Mountain" and "Ave Maria," are, according to Taylor, a picture of the struggle between the profane and the sacred. The segment begins on Walpurgis night, when Chernabog, the black god, who lives in Bald Mountain, casts a spell on the sleeping town and raises up ghosts from their graves and demons from the fiery depths. The evil creatures dance for Chernabog's pleasure until dawn comes and the church bells, calling the faithful to worship, begin to ring. The ghosts and demons return to their origins, while Chernabog folds himself back into the top of the mountain. The faithful begin their candlelit procession through the forest as they sing "Ave Maria," and the film ends as the sun rises.

  • 2hr 06min ' G
  • Animation

Cast & Crew

  • Leopold StokowskiConductor

  • Deems TaylorHimself

  • Walt DisneyProducer & Mickey Mouse

  • Joe GrantWriter

  • Dick HuemerWriter

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AFI's 10 TOP 10

Counting down the 10 greatest films from 10 classic American film genres, including animation, fantasy, science fiction, gangster, western, sports, romantic comedy, courtroom drama, mystery and epic films.