The iconic, animated classical music film has inspired a new game.

Fantasia is a film that redefined how to introduce people, young and old to classical music. Featuring the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski, the film’s accessible, entertaining and inventive animated settings of great works including Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Beethoven’s Symphony No 6 (The Pastoral), Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain and of course Dukas’ Sorcerer’s Apprentice featuring Mickey Mouse have become iconic. 

First screened in 1940, the film was ground-breaking and even though the original production costs spiralled wildly out of control, Walt Disney’s vision for the film overruled his studio’s financial concerns at pouring such dramatic sums in to a project deemed “experimental and unprecedented.” It was a gamble that paid off with the film becoming an international hit and one of Disney’s highest grossing films. A film sequel, Fantasia 2000 was released in time for the turn of the millennium, but now a very modern day reimagining has gone on sale: a new computer game, Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved.

Disney have collaborated with game design giants Harmonix, who created the hugely successful Rock Band series of games and have made marrying music with innovative gameplay a trademark.  While the original film featured only works from the classical genre, the new game covers a broader range of music including jazz, world music, and pop and rock. Just as the 74 year old namesake of the game encouraged generations of people to appreciate and love great pieces of the classical repertoire, the game’s designers are hoping Fantasia: Music Evolved will bring players closer to classical, by allowing them to combine more familiar contemporary styles with orchestral elements, recorded especially for the game by the London Symphony Orchestra. Matt Boch, the Creative Director of the game expressed his hope that it would make classical music more accessible to an uninitiated audience, saying “to me the core message of the game, if there is one, is that the divisions between high and low culture exist primarily in our imagination.”

Disney Fantastia: Music Evolved will give a literally hands-on experience. Using physical gestures (captured by a console camera, such as Xbox’s Kinect camera) players can control different instruments to make original “mixes” of existing pieces, play games based on rhythm and melody or have musical “duels” with friends, using the familiar sound wave representations that will be familiar to fans of the original film over seven decades ago (the Contrabasson being one of the cheekier animations). However while it is anticipated that the game will with attract new audiences to classical music, there is less in the game for existing devotees, with very little music from the original film retained in the game.

This isn’t the first time Fantasia has been in the sights of a computer game developer. Both Atari and Sega produced spin-off games in the 80s and 90s starring Mickey Mouse in his iconic wizard’s garb.

For further details on Disney Fanastia : Music Evolved vist the Harmonix website.

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