This article first appeared in The Varsity, page 15, on Jan 8, 1991. Please note that I did not choose the title, and protested when the Editors published it.
by Ray Deonandan
Allegro Non Tropo
Directed by Bruno Bozzctto
Bloor Cinema Jan 4-10
Fox Beaches Cinema Jan 11- 13
Revue Cinema January 16-17
What bothered you most about Walt Disney’s Fantasia? Was it the annoyingly cute Mickey Mouse crew trying to be operatic and respectable? Or was it just having to put up with bored and misled children in a theatre full of acidheads? Whatever it was that may have made it an unfulfilling experience. Fantasia was a great idea, but lacked introspection and self-parody.
So that’s why we have Allegro Non Troppo, Bnino Bozzetto’s vision of the Three Stooges directing a serious animated epic. Touted as “a Fantasia for those who wouldn’t be caught dead watching Fantasia, Allegro is completely unlike the Disney stereotype.
The animation is not as technically sound nor as complete as the high-budget
Disney production, but Allegro‘s choice of classical music accompaniment is apt and entrancing. Even a baroquial moron (like myself) will recognize Stravinsky, Sibelius and Ravel, all performed hypnotically and set to amusing visual features.
Allegro‘s major departure from Fantasia is in its moments of live black & white action interspersed among the animated performances. Maurizio Nichetti (The Icicle Thief) portrays the stoogey animator who is berated by the music conductor and the film’s director. This hokey, excessive addition actually serves to add continuity to the string of otherwise unrelated musical pieces -an element the Disney production lacked.
There was only one point at which the temptation to nod off seemed unusually compelling. It was during the dinosaurs’ march into the city, set to Ravel’s Bolero; and the effect was more akin to pleasurable hypnosis than to unwanted anaesthesis. In contrast, admission must be made to having dozed off at several points during Fantasia, despite noble and proper intentions to the contrary.
Bozzetto makes no apologies for his film’s resemblance to the Disney classic, nor are any attempts made to conceptually separate the two. Indeed, comedic reference is even made to other Disney staples.
Where Fantasia was gradual and graceful. Allegro is sudden and chaotic. Its humour is base and its messages unconcealed. Unlike the Mickey Mouse affair, the aid of serotonin-based hallucinogens are probably not required to fully appreciate the qualities of Allegro. One may even go so far as to recommend paying the full $7.00 for admission.
But beware. Because of the necessity of English subtitles, the profusion of tiresome slapstick antics and the use of poor quality European celluloid, it may be advisable to bring to the theatre either a soft pillow, a sympathetic date or a large bottle of Tylenol.
See it anyway, though. It’s something to talk about at cocktail parties.