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Allegro non troppo

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Bruno Bozzetto
Produced by Bruno Bozzetto
Written by Bruno Bozzetto
Guido Manuli
Starring Maurizio Micheli
Maurizio Nichetti
Néstor Garay
Maurialuisa Giovannini
Release date(s) United States:
27 July 1977
Italy:
22 December 1977
Running time 85 minutes
Country Italy
Language Italian

Allegro non troppo is a 1977 Italian animated film directed by Bruno Bozzetto. Featuring six pieces of classical music, the film is a parody of Disney's Fantasia, though possibly more of a challenge to Fantasia. The classical pieces are set to color animation, ranging from comedy to deep tragedy. At the beginning, in between the animation, and at the end are black and white live-action sequences, displaying the fictional animator, orchestra, conductor and filmmaker, with many humorous scenes about the fictional production of the film. Some of these sections mix animation and live action.

The film has two versions, the main difference being in the inclusion or exclusion of the sepia live action sequences in between the classical pieces. The second version of the film omits these sections, replacing them with animated plasticine letters spelling out the title of the next piece of music.

Contents

Title

In music, an instruction of "allegro ma non troppo" means to play "fast, but not overly so". In the context of this film, and without the "ma", it means Not So Fast!, an interjection meaning "slow down" or "think before you act" and refers to the film's pessimistic view of Western progress (as opposed to the optimism of Disney's original).

Program

  • Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, animated as an idealistic forest like Beethoven's Pastorale in Fantasia but with the twist of portraying a senior, unattractive member of the community of young, coupled satyrs and nymphs. The old and unattractive satyr repeatedly attempts to cosmetically solve his loneliness, but all in vain. At the end, the satyr gets smaller and smaller until he is simply roaming across a vast countryside which turns out to be a woman's body, which later turns to night symbolic for the satyr's eventual death.
  • Dvořák's Slavonic Dance No. 7, set to a large community of cave-dwellers. One specific cave-man leaves the cave and builds a straw hut. As the piece repeats every phrase with greater vigor than it was first played, the rest of the cave-men all build straw huts. The original cave-man sees this and leaves to build a tall, modern building. Again, all of the community build their own modern skyscrapers. The original man is obviously attempting to get away from the rest, and plots ways to kill all the other men. He then leaves the building to do a number of silly things, and sees the rest copy him again. A literally military efficiency is built up, and he marches off of the end of a cliff, catching on to a branch, to try and make them all fall over. None come over the cliff edge, so he comes back up to see everyone else moon him to the final accented beats of the piece.
  • Ravel's Boléro, as seen on the movie poster image, is a story of evolution set to the sixteen minute long piece, the animated segment is a spoof of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring in Fantasia, in part due to the solar eclipse scene, the similar animation of waterfalls, and the desert like environment. The segment begins with a fairly 1970s notion, a space ship landing and throwing a nearly empty Coca-Cola bottle out on to the dead landscape of the planet they have found. To Boléro's growing drum-beat, the remaining liquid in the bottle begins to work its way out of the bottle. Eventually it does, and begins to change shape into a variety of fantastic creatures, colorfully mirroring Earth's own evolution. The creatures continue to march to an unseen objective, constantly in the same direction, sometimes in conflict with each other along the way, but all going absolutely straight forward except for the ape in the film, which tends to kill other creatures. The ape is seen learning to adapt with fur, boats, clubs, and eventually fire, all obtained at the expense of the other creatures. The creatures, now looking much like dinosaurs, pass by the Egyptian Pyramids, a looming crucifix, and an already-fought 20th century battlefield, all forcing the creatures to gaze in wonder for a moment before continuing on. Finally, as the piece reaches its amazingly loud climax, the creatures are all destroyed by skyscrapers coming up from the ground suddenly, followed by a looming human above them all. The human's face crumbles though it were made of stone to reveal the ape inside, having conquered all the other creatures.
  • Sibelius' Valse Triste (collectively called "Feline Fantasies"), by far the saddest of all the animation, is about disembodied spirit of a cat in the ruins of a large house. The cat remembers its life when the house was occupied, and for a few seconds the memory becomes real - only to burst like a bubble, returning the cat to a harsh reality. The poor cat wanders about in an extremely lonely and dark environment, only to suddenly get a glint in its eye as the music cues up enthusiastically, seeing the entire house and all its furnishings and people reappear and do their everyday tasks again. The stark contrast in the piece between the silent moping and the bright, happy, swooping, phrases is animated through the gray coloring followed by the pictured, almost surreal amount of color when the cat hallucinates. Unfortunately, all of the hallucinations crash back down into even deeper misery, the cat finding itself in a post-apocalyptic scene again. The third time the cat finds itself in reality, with the final chords of the waltz, the cat itself fades away, and a wrecking ball clears the remaining ruins of the house, leaving not even a memory.
  • Vivaldi's Concerto in C Major, a happy little animation short provides contrast to Valse Triste. The short is about a bee attempting to eat a small meal on a flower, but is interrupted by lovers sitting down in the grass near the bee. The shadow caused by this annoys the bee, but then they lie down on top of her flower, the bee barely escaping with its silverware. The bee then goes to another spot, gets the table nearly set again, then the lovers start rolling down towards her, then stop, the bee's fate uncertain. A slight pause, and then the male of the lovers leaps up in pain from the bee stinging him.
  • Stravinsky's Firebird (specifically The Princesses' Khorovod and The Infernal Dance of King Katscheï) begins with a lump of clay molded by a monotheistic symbol of the omniscient pyramid, molding first a few unsuccessful creatures with overly awkward limbs, then finally the Adam and Eve as portrayed in Genesis. Adam and Eve then transform into cel animation, and as in Genesis, the serpent comes up to them, offering the fruits of knowledge in the form of an apple. When they both refuse, now deviating from the Bible, the serpent eats the apple himself, launching him on into a sinful, hellish environment where he is exposed to advertisements and pornography. He is tossed around by the demons as they give him arms, legs, and a belly due to running from cars, being beaten by a police nightstick, and drinking beer. The serpent is then carried around by flying furniture, appliances, and money. Other demons also try to shoot him and inject him with a needle. The serpent then finds himself in the hands of a giant yellow devil (a parody of Chernabog from Fantasia). The obese demon holds the serpent on his palm, and repeatedly closes his fist. With each unclench, the serpent has acquired another trapping of western urbanity (a suit, a hat, an umbrella). The serpent is then taken back to Adam and Eve, who are somewhat taken aback by the serpent's new distressed nature as the serpent squirms around and babbles of his misery, eventually ripping off the suit and spitting out the apple, laying it down in front of Adam and Eve and walking away.
  • In an epilogue sequence (which features an assortment of short, unidentified orchestral clips instead of a single piece) the film's host asks an animated Frankenstein's monster (identified as "Frankenstini") to retrieve a finale for the movie from a basement storeroom. These "finales" are in the form of tiny miniature theatre stages each containing a bizarre series of animated "ending shots" (e.g., a marathon runner triumphantly crossing a finish line...and the ribbon slicing through his torso, cutting him in half). Frankenstini rejects several of these, but delightedly approves of one which depicts a ridiculously escalating war, ending with the earth exploding. The serpent from the Firebird Suite pops out and bites him on the nose, and a giant "HAPPY END" drops on them. The end credits commence.

See also

External links

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