Taking another look at how two of Disney’s classics stack up against each other, we’re going to compare and contrast “Fantasia” and “Dumbo.” Remember, I will be using 5 criteria to determine the winner: protagonist, antagonist, supporting characters, music and memorable moments. Again, this is completely subjective.

Let’s get this battle underway: “Fantasia” vs. “Dumbo.”

PROTAGONIST

“Fantasia” is a series of shorts set to classical music. There’s no set protagonist throughout the film like there is in a film with an established feature-length narrative. The most memorable of these shorts is “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” which features Mickey Mouse in his Sorcerer Mickey attire as he tries to perform magic while his master is out of the room. Meanwhile, Dumbo’s protagonist is right there in the name. Dumbo, or Jumbo Jr., the elephant with the big ears is the character that drives the story. We follow him on his story for the length of the film as he’s humiliated by other elephants, the circus clowns and the ringmaster until he learns to fly and becomes a star. Dumbo isn’t the most exciting protagonist, but he’s got a clear advantage over Mickey by being in the entire movie. Point to “Dumbo.”


Fantasia 0 | Dumbo 1

ANTAGONIST

Once again, because “Fantasia” is a series of shorts, there’s no set antagonist for the film. The most recognizable antagonist is Chernabog from the final short, “Night on Bald Mountain.” Essentially, Chernabog is the devil as he raises the dead before everything turns against him and chases him back into the mountain. He’s menacing for the time he’s on screen and is a solid antagonist for his short. I’d personally like to see a feature length film of Sorcerer Mickey battling Chernabog, but that’s just me. Amazingly, “Dumbo” has no set antagonist either. The other elephants stand against Dumbo because of his ears, but they don’t do much other than talk about him and shun him. The clowns force Dumbo into frightening situations, but they are mostly just trying to improve their act. They are careless and thoughtless, but not villainous. The Ringmaster keeps moving Dumbo from frightening situation to frightening situation, but he’s essentially a manager trying to find the right fit without thinking about Dumbo’s feelings. The biggest antagonist would probably be the children who insult Dumbo’s ears leading to Jumbo attacking them to protect her son. But, they have such a small role, that it’s hard to take them seriously as a main antagonist. Chernabog is more threatening during the time he’s on screen than any of the antagonists in “Dumbo” are. Point to “Fantasia.”

Fantasia 1 | Dumbo 1

SUPPORTING CHARACTERS

Both films are filled with supporting characters, but most aren’t that memorable. In “Fantasia,” there are centaurs, fairies, flowers, colors and evil spirits, but none of them standout from their shorts to be memorable. In “Dumbo,” the best, by far, is Timothy Mouse, who feels sorry for Dumbo and does his best to make things better for him. Then, there are the crows, who despite being culturally insensitive in modern times, are still the only other group that helps out Dumbo. There are also elephants, clowns, a ringmaster and circus attendees. While not that memorable, it’s easier to name them than anyone else in “Fantasia.” Point to “Dumbo.”

Fantasia 1 | Dumbo 2

MUSIC

This one isn’t really a fair category in this debate. “Dumbo” provides a nice score that helps further it’s story nicely. And, the pink elephants on parade segment stands out partly because of the music that accompanies it. But, “Fantasia” is literally a series of shorts set to some of the greatest classical music of all time. Bach, Tchaikovsky, Dukas, Stravinsky, Beethoven, Ponichielli, Mussorgsky and Schubert all have pieces represented in “Fantasia.” This one was never a contest. Point to “Fantasia.”

Fantasia 2 | Dumbo 2


MEMORABLE MOMENTS

Once again, this is the most subjective category in the debate.  What I find memorable, you may not and vice versa. In “Fantasia,” the entirety of two shorts, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and “Night on Bald Mountain” stand out. Mickey putting on the Sorcerer’s hat, summoning the brooms, unable to stop them and Yensid coming in to put a stop to everything are iconic. Meanwhile, Chernabog’s ascent, his raising of the evil spirits and the fight back during the Ava Maria sequence are beautifully animated and scored. Meanwhile, “Dumbo” has its own share of memorable moments. The unveiling of Dumbo and his ears, the kids insulting him and his mother attacking them, pink elephants on parade, the crows helping Dumbo and him flying at the circus are what I remember most. By my count, “Fantasia” has seven memorable moments in just two shorts, while the rest of the shorts are very forgettable, while “Dumbo” has five across an entire feature-length film. Point to “Fantasia.”

Fantasia 3 | Dumbo 2

Calculating the results, “Fantasia” ekes out a slim 3-2 win. Both of these are Golden Era classics that probably bring about a lot of joys from childhood. So, what do you think? Which film is better: “Fantasia” or “Dumbo?”












Jeremy Brown

Jeremy has been a big Disney fan since he was a kid growing up during the Disney Renaissance. One day he hopes to go to every Disney Park in the world.

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