Allegro Non Troppo: “Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune” (1977)

This feature-length Italian film, directed by Bruno Bozzetto, is a parody of Disney’s Fantasia. It features six animated vignettes which are interspersed with live-action black and white scenes showing the fictional animator, orchestra, conductor and filmmaker commenting and working on the production of the film in a humorous fashion.

Two of its animated episodes derive their subject matter directly from Fantasia — the first of these is the first vignette in Allegro non Troppo set to Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, which was inspired by the Centaur scene set to Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. In this story, an elderly satyr pursues nymphlike nude female figures, all in a failed effort to restore the virility and good looks of his youth. The erotic yet humorous storyline depicts the humiliation of the satyr as he grows ever smaller in size. The scene ends on a peaceful note, with the landscape traversed by the satyr transformed into a woman’s body.



Kolya, Olya and Archimedes [Коля, Оля и Архимед] (1972)

Director: Yury Prytkov.

An educational story of time travel: Kolya and Olya visit the ancient city of Syracuse, where they meet with the great methematician and inventor Archimedes. He shows them some of his wonderful inventions and then they work to repel an attack of the Romans, and then return back home safely.

Aesop’s Fables (1971)

A 30-minute made for TV movie starring Bill Cosby as Aesop, produced by Lorimar Productions. Live-action interspersed with animated segments featuring the stories “The Tortoise and the Eagle” and “The Tortoise and the Hare.”

In 1990-91, Cosby would play Aesop again in a series of six 30-minute films, each featuring one animated fable.


Icarus and the Wise Men [Икар и мудрецы] (1976)

This eight-minute Soviet production from 1976 by famed animator Fyodor Khitruk for Soyuzmultfilm transforms the story of Icarus from one of hubris and heedlessness into one of ingenuity and perseverance, as the hero keeps trying to find new ways to fly, in spite of the skepticism and narrowmindedness of the community elders (whose views are expressed in pithy Latin phrases). The motif of resistance to authority, which is so prevalent in 1970s animation, is on clear display here, as is Khitruk’s distinctive and imaginative artistic style. In the midst of the period of detente from the Cold War, “Icarus and the Wise Men” offers its audience a simple yet profound philosophical meditation on the ideas of freedom, creativity and daring in the face of cynicism and opposition.

Khitruk went on to direct another Classically-themed short in 1982 called “Olympians,” which is filled with imagery of the ancient games and which itself was influenced by the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.


Metamorphoses, or Winds of Change [星のオルフェウス Orpheus of the Stars] (1978-79)

1978’s Metamorphoses (it was called Hoshi no Orufeusu or “Orpheus of the Stars” in Japan) was a feature-length film directed by Takashi Masunaga that was released in the United States by Sanrio Communications. The surreal film was a five-part animated anthology of stories from Ovid, including those of Perseus, Actaeon, Aglaurus and Herse (“The House of Envy”), Orpheus and Eurydice, and Phaeton. Each vignette featured a recurring boy character named Wondermaker as the hero of the story. Metamorphoses was intended as a Fantasia for the rock era, with no speaking characters and music by Joan Baez and Mick Jagger. However, the film was not well-received and so it underwent a metamorphosis of its own, being re-released in 1979 as Winds of Change, with a disco score by Alex Costandinos and narration by famed actor Peter Ustinov. The film features a veritable smorgasbord of influences from the late 1970s: a clear echo of Disney is present in the illustration and its opening sequence is an exact copy of Star Wars. Though considered a box-office failure, Metamorphoses looks forward to the distinctive and often random ways that Japanese anime of the 80s and 90s will go on to engage with the Classical past.



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