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Welcome to Animation Globe where Headstuff’s animation expert Joseph Learoyd analyses films of the form from around the world. This entry is on 1976 Italian animation Allegro Non Troppo.
This 1976 film from Italy was directed by Bruno Bozzetto as a parody of Walt Disney’s 1940 film Fantasia. It features six major segments animated to classical music, as well as several black and white live action sequences that showcase the filming process from conductors to animators. This comedic film, its title translating as “Not so fast” is a joyful animated experience that blends fluidity of motion with outlandish wild designs. It does not just parody Fantasia’s musical segments, it also acts as a homage to them and the work of Disney, adding a fresh flavour to the world of animation.
This colourful, stylised film is odd to say the least. The character designs are bizarre, the themes are powerful, and the overall atmosphere is quite touching. On the surface, this film is nothing but a basic foreign knock-off of a timeless classic. But if you scratch the surface and dig a little deeper, one can find a gorgeous study into loneliness, loss, pain, and happiness through trippy, coarse linework and absurd psychedelic imagery.
The first tale, my favourite of the segments, explores the life of an elderly satyr who after constant attempts to recapture his youth, becomes smaller and smaller, shrinking under the weight of his own pain. Other vignettes involve birds made of hands, bees that dine on flowers, as well as the emotional tale of a cat strolling through an abandoned house reminiscing about the good times there.
These diverse set of tales all blend and complement each other. The live action sequences, (albeit dated) also contribute to the uncut version of the film by acting as an introduction between each portion of gold. That said, I feel the title cards of the cut version of the animation (later produced, omitting the live action segments) work better for a modern audience though, as these live action pieces, despite their charm and introductory quality, feel often like a breakaway from the cartoons.
The real hero of this film, however, is the classical music that flows throughout it. Pieces such as Vivaldi’s “Concerto in C major” and Stravinsky’s “The Firebird Suite” are what conjure the movie’s true emotions. If you take the time to close your eyes and just experience the soundtrack, viewers can practically picture a scene themselves, creating their own images to the music.
It is to Bozzetto great credit that he manages to take these images that flow within us all when moved by music and capture them, splashing them upon the screen for all to see. We are given a view of material objects, hellish environments, and corruption within the human psyche, weaved gorgeously through what feels like a hand painted web of animated intrigue and analysis on humanity.
A feat of ingenuity is when an animated film void of dialogue can paint a picture through motion and artistic design that functions as important social commentary The satyr represents aging and a fear of losing vitality, the cat represents change. Overall, the film through surrealism makes use of small, often overlooked elements to tell a solid story.
Bruno Bozzetto, an auteur of sorts, based an entire sequence of Allegro Non Troppo on a discarded cola bottle, (a parody of Fantasia’s “The Rite of Spring”). If that is not looking at the small things, nothing is. It is not just observing these seemingly minor details that make this Italian animation shine, it is the way in which it glorifies them as characters in and of themselves.
No attempt is ever made to hide the Disney inspiration here. That said, the film has a vastly different style, distinguishing itself from its inspiration. Throughout this series of well-timed, well-paced vignettes, we are shown a world that, despite vast differences to that of our own, manages to capture the very essence of our world, the struggles that we face daily and the journey that we call life.