Allegro Non Troppo Bruno Bozzetto

This Italian Fantasia pairs the fanciful animation of Bruno Bozzetto with the music of Debussy, Dvorak, Ravel, Sibelius and Stravinsky, all the while making big, broad jokes about its Disney-fied formula. The film — made in 1976 and recently packaged on DVD with ten sweet Bozzetto shorts and a TV documentary — begins in the theatre where our bumbling host and brusque conductor will torment the animator and the old-lady orchestra in each absurd intermission. It's sort of funny stuff in light of Fantasia's clean'n'sober live-action sequences, and if you ever wanted to see a guy in an ape costume doing the Russian dance, here you have it. After and between those obnoxious black and white scenes, the animation is pure splendour. To the tune of Debussy, a sad, ageing satyr lusts after towering nymphs in eroticised, colour-rich landscapes drawn in a semi-psychedelic Euro-style freehand — remember, this movie was made only a decade after Yellow Submarine, which still wields a powerful influence outside the animation mainstream. The other pieces are equally charming. Some are more amusing — such as the Dvorak piece, in which a man is sadistically mimicked by the herd until he tries to trick them into jumping off a cliff, to which they respond with mass-mooning — while others are more melancholy, such as the Sibelius sequence, where an emaciated cat's happy memories haunt a bombed-out house. The "Bolero" 'toon is as epic as the tune, with the rapid evolution of Earth creatures from primordial cola (yes, cola) to cheeky monkey conveyed in a succession of florid, hallucinogenic metamorphoses, brutal weather attacks and epic treks. It's not flawless, it's not entirely original, but this film has a delightful energy, humour and grace, and a great soundtrack. With or without Fantasia, Allegro Non Troppo is its own classic. Plus: documentary. (Home Vision/Morningstar)