Cinema: Disney's Fantastic Voyage

Sixty years after Walt's nervy mix of cartoons and classical music comes a rapturous new Fantasia

Once upon a time, around 1940, there was a popular commodity called middle-brow taste, a comfortable culture of refinement. It included Impressionist reproductions, Pearl Buck novels and light-classical music. Middle-brow provided a semblance of breeding and was pervasive enough that the manufacturers of mass entertainment wanted to tap it. So radio networks featured operas and symphonies. And Walt Disney produced Fantasia, a melange of pieces from the concert-hall repertoire set to swirling, splashing cartoon images.

Now moviegoers could not only hear, say, Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, conducted by Maestro Leopold Stokowski and recorded in stereophonic sound (then a rarity in...

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