When early animation sprung from the short-style of "Silly Symphonies" and the other quick and jaunty clips that reigned in the late 1920s and '30s, it did so in a rather spectacular way.
The first full-length feature cel animation film premiered in 1937, a movie you've perhaps heard about: Walt Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." While the film is still considered a masterwork, a feat realized thanks in large part to the recent invention of the multiplane camera, it still told a conventionally structured story, built around a heroine, with a beginning, middle, and end.
"Pinocchio" followed for Disney, also telling a more traditional tale and then? The dancing brooms arrived. And the swirls of pastels and the ballerina hippos and the flying horses and the landscapes straight from a deep, deep dream.
"Fantasia" was the film, and its form -- a series of vignettes and tone poems set to classical pieces -- was wholly different from its two predecessors. Add to that a more adult feel, with folded-in bits of real musicians, and you have a movie that made a mark not just on animation but on cinema history.
TCL Chinese Theatre will screen the 1940 film, and its fantastical follow-up "Fantasia 2000," on Sunday, June 7. It's a Cinespia-produced benefit for the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation, which keeps a watchful eye on Southern California's remaining movie palaces. More than a watchful eye, though: Twenty one theatres have received Historic-Cultural Landmark status due to the group's dogged efforts.
The screening is in large part a celebration of the 75th anniversary of "Fantasia" and the 15th anniversary of "Fantasia 2000," a film that boasts cameos from Steve Martin to Angela Lansbury.
It's the "the first ever back-to-back screening" of the two films in Los Angeles, by the by.
But will Mickey Mouse, as "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," ever find a way to control the watery mess he's made? Even with those bucket-carrying brooms? He's over his mouse-eared head for sure.
One final question, speaking of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," the vignette that is surely the most famous in "Fantasia": Is there a larger hat in all of Los Angeles than giant "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" wizard hat that sits outside the Walt Disney Animation Building in Burbank?
It's so tall and point it can be spied from the 134 Freeway (though eyes on the road, of course). In previous years the Brown Derby might have won for largest local chapeau, but Mickey's magical cap has to be, these days, one of the hugest hats in all the land.
Time to peek in again on the cartoon that started it all.