Disney’s Pastoral Symphony: An Anatomy of Domestic Life, Some Working Notes

58 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2020

Date Written: November 25, 2011


The Pastoral Symphony episode in Disney’s Fantasia depicts scenes from domestic life as realized by various mythological creatures: child-rearing and play, courtship, wine-making and celebration, mutual aid and protection, and sleep. Gods are ‘played’ by human-form characters one of which, Bacchus, is central to the episode. Humans are played both by animal-human hybrids (centaurs and fauns) and by animal hybrids (flying horses, unicorns). Bacchus is accompanied by a Disney-invented hybrid, a unicorn donkey. Patterns of oral and sexual imagery are arranged in ring-form structure that runs in counterpoint to a typical cumulative dramatic structure, which is built on a contrast between the Dionysian mode of the central Bacchanal and the more Apollonian conclusion, where all’s right with the world and everything is in it’s place. The poetic function, as described by Roman Jakobson, governs various transformations and displacements that structure the visual and sonic materials in such a way that the episode has something of a ‘meta’ quality of being art about art, with Bacchus as a figure for the artist.

Suggested Citation

Benzon, William L., Disney’s Pastoral Symphony: An Anatomy of Domestic Life, Some Working Notes (November 25, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1964621 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1964621

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