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Narrative: Adaptation and Transcription: Fantasia (1940), Music To, Thy Ears

Figure 1: Fantasia (1940)

This film Review will focus on the film Fantasia (1940). This film is iconic in the media industry as it took one of the biggest leaps for animation production experimentation. The film is consistent of multiple shorts, where certain pieces of music are created for different purposes, for example, the enchanted broom short had the story written first, then the music was produced. However in the first short the music was created first, then the animators did an adaptation of what they heard visually.

The film was released in 1940 and was directed by Samuel Armstrong, was produced by Walt Disney and the main conductor in the film was Leopold Stokowski.

The subject for this film is Adaptation and Transcription, once again the initiate was taken in order to find a film which could be reviewed on this subject so expect little reviewing and lots of explaining. Other examples of adaptations and transcriptions would be Harry Potter (2001), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 2005) and Lemony Snickets a series of unfortunate events (2004).

Figure 2: Mickey Mouse
What is an Adaptation or a Transcription

An adaptation is a literal re-imagining of a piece of media into another piece of media, this quality of the film piece would depend on who created the final product, which is why some remakes of films can be classed as original films and not just shoehorning in sequels just for the sake of it. Many books are re-worked as films because books usually are the initial idea for a film, like a script waiting to be picked apart and put back together in another form.

An adaptation doesn't mean 'Re-Makes' or 'Sequels', the line between what makes original content and shoehorned content can be questionable at times but this is the easiest way of putting it. Depending on when the first piece of media was created, due to technological constraints sometimes the re-imagining can turn out better than the original, for example, the Harry Potter books, when translated into films became so widespread that everyone started to read the books more.

So then it becomes a question of which piece of media is better? The book because it was the reason for the piece of media existing or the final film because it turned out so great. Using what is already know about this, it can applied to other medias like The Jungle Book and Tarzan. The Jungle Book worked because it took the original ideas of the old film, gave it a new coat of paint and made it soar, whereas Tarzan couldn't really be replicated. Everyone knew what to expect from Tarzan and because Disney tinkered with something so iconic and precious it made the film not as enjoyable as it could have been.
Figure 3: The Soundtrack

How Fantasia is an Original Adaptation

Now it has been discussed that in order for something to be an adaptation there needs to be an original concept, however fantasia did something that had never been done before, being one of the biggest risks ever in media history. Disney used in some cases the literal audio to come up with an idea to create something original, some videos being like trip sequences and others being stories. The reason this would have been such a big risk was because nothing like this had ever been done before, and the fact the music was produced, rehearsed and then an animation was created to go along with the music was something completely original.

But the best example of adaptation in the film was the Enchanted Brooms Skit, where young Mickey Mouse uses a spell to create broom servants to do work for him. Now the process in the short would have been:
  1. Idea is conceived.
  2. Idea is written down.
  3. Idea is animated.
  4. Music is composed.
But in other shorts like the first interpretation the production would have gone like:
  1. Music is produced.
  2. Idea is conceived.
  3. Idea is written down.
  4. Idea is animated.
Now granted the animation production for the first skit would differ quite drastically from the Magical Broom skit. One of them is a literal interpretation of sound, whilst the other plays off of it.

Figure 4: Chernabog

Main Problems with an Adaptation

When an adaptation is made it can become original content, shoehorned sequel, filler, original worship or an unneeded remake. Most of those are negative but the few examples can shine a light on what good can come from 'Messed Up' sequels. The first being is how much influence the remake takes from the film, because if to much influence then it would just be a straight up copy, but at the same time if influence is not taken from the film then you can lose the connection to the subject that is being presented.

Depending on the film being created sometimes if the films structure is different it might slightly change, for example if the film were to use the Hollywood structure then the next film would be expected to use the same structure, and if there were alteration they would have to be minor to keep within the films rules. The main problem with an adaptations is that there are a lot of film that derive from a common influence, so when all the film are viewed and new is created it can be difficult to create something that hasn't been done before. original ideas can still come from adaptations, but in this day and age it is very rare.

Overall the one things all adaptation films have in common is that they repeat the same mistakes, not because they can't be fixed but because it would be part of the process of creating the film. As stated earlier some rules cannot be broken like changing a characters design to drastically of ignoring key plot points in a series. But if what is being adapted is something than has never been done before and is something completely original than the chance it has of becoming something interesting and new may be slim, but when it gets recognized it has the potential to blow up drastically.

Image Bibliography

Figure 1, Fantasia (1940)
Figure 2, Mickey Mouse

Figure 3, The Soundtrack

Figure 4, Chernabog