Allegro Non Troppo – Bruno Bozzetto – 1976



Allegro Non Troppo, translated, is: funny, but not too much. Bruno Bozzetto’s animated homage to Disney’s Fantasia is funny but also a deep spiritual meditation on value and goodness as set to psychedelic visuals and beautiful classical music.

The film is framed with a ham-fisted, black and white bit, which focuses on slapstick and forcing a pure artist into subjugation. The idea that an artist must be kept in isolation so as to keep his perspective objective is ridiculous in that it is precisely an individual perspective that lends uniqueness and voice to an artists’ work. Nevertheless, these segments are strange and humorless; maybe you just have to be Italian.

The first animated segment is a sexy and sad tale of an aged satyr, who can no longer appeal to women. Set to Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, this segment really puts you in the right mindset for what is to follow. Dazzling colors fill the screen, along with sexy images and the heartbreaking transition of the satyr from old to ignored. The satyr ultimately becomes but a mite on the object of his affections, the shapes and forms he used to take for granted flutter away or ascend into the sky. This segment is filled with nudity and truth, getting old is tough, get some while you can. Love doesn’t come easily.

Secondly is Dvorak’s Slavic Dance No. 7 in C-Minor. This segment is very short and concerns a man who dares to be different being followed from the city into the woods. Once he learns that the weak will follow him he begins to lead them into fascism. The scene is very cute and goofy and ends with a cruel character being mooned by the masses he thought easily manipulated. People will only be taken advantage of up to a point.

Here in the middle is what I would call the creamy center of the film. Ravel’s Bolero becomes the background for the march of evolution. This segment alone is worth seeing and the metamorphosis from one drop of goo in a coke bottle into man is mind widening. Along the way we swim through the seas and fly in the air. We march with dinosaurs, and we are there when the malevolent monkey steals fire and learns to use it as a weapon. I’ve watched this chapter alone many times. It is simply superb.

We move from grey to black in what is the saddest of all segments of the film. The next piece is set to Sibelius’ Valse Triste. In it, a cat that used to live in giant apartment buildings before a war walks through the ruins of these shelled out skeletons remembering the ghosts of prior tenants and the kindnesses they gave to him. As the cat remembers each of these people, the visions prove ephemeral and disappear before his eyes, leaving only the charred remains of war. This segment is very sad and reminds us what a toll war can leave.

Finally, Vivaldi gives some relief in a short vignette about a bee trying to have a picnic. Young lovers have chosen his stomping ground as a place to roll in the grass, constantly disrupting the bee’s attempt to relax. After much consternation the issue is resolved with a well-placed sting. This is a nice reminder to remember that there are after all others in the world to be considered!

The film wraps up with Stravinsky’s Firebird and a fun identity crisis for a serpent. When Adam and Eve refuse the apple, the snake eats it himself and finds himself in a hell of modernity. Dealing with traffic, suits, money, drugs, sex, the snake ultimately finds the apple unappetizing and spits it out. Ignorance is bliss after all.

The film makes a mad rush at the finish line with a series of finales, but the viewer is well worn out at this point. This film is cool and fun, but Fantasia it is not. Seek this film out all ye who love drugs or animation and any combination of the two.


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