“My idea was to have an orchestra in complete contrast to Disney’s. I saw Fantasia eleven times at the movies as a child. I loved the visuals but I didn’t really care much for the live-action sequences, the stylized orchestra, all the lights. It seemed too elegant, too refined. So to do something rather shabby and wacky, the exact opposite, I thought would work.”–Bruno Bozzetto
DIRECTED BY: Bruno Bozzetto
FEATURING: Maurizio Micheli, Néstor Garay, Maurizio Nichetti
PLOT: A film producer in an empty concert hall announces he will soon present something unprecedented and original—animations scored to classical music—and insists on continuing even after getting an angry call from Hollywood. An orchestra of old women is assembled and a cartoonist is released from a dungeon and ordered to draw illustrations in real time as the band plays. We then see the cartoons—a faun pining for a nymph, creatures that evolve from a coke bottle, the domestic fantasies of a stray cat—set to compositions by Dvořák, Ravel and others, with comic sketches set in the orchestra hall in between the featurettes.
- The phrase “allegro non troppo” is a musical direction literally meaning “fast, but not too fast.” “Allegro” also means happy, upbeat or cheerful in Italian, so the title could be read as a pun suggesting that the movie is lighthearted, but not saccharine.
- Animator Bruno Bozzetto began his career making shorts and commercials. In 1965, his West and Soda was the first Italian feature-length animation film in over twenty years.
- Allegro Non Troppo did not fare well in Italian theaters. According to animator Giuseppe Laganà, there were approximately forty people at the premiere: thirty of the cast and crew, five film critics, and only five paying customers. Bozzetto later complained that Italian audiences weren’t interested in seeing cartoons unless the name “Disney” was attached.
- The character the artist draws on a sheet of paper during dinner is Signor Rossi, Bozzetto’s most popular creation, who would have been familiar to Italian audiences (though not as familiar as Mickey Mouse).
INDELIBLE IMAGE: As tempted as I am to select the live-action scene of the gorilla attempting to do a Cossack dance in the orchestra pit, or the drawing of the boob tree (a tree with breast fruit hanging heavy off a nude torso trunk, as envisioned by a horny hallucinating satyr), I have to concede that the march of the mutating dinosaurs to Ravel’s “Bolero” is certain to be the memory that sticks in your mind’s eye through the years.
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: This compilation of animated sonatas featuring satyrs, devils and dinosaurs traipsing through colorful post-psychedelic landscapes might not have been odd enough to place the movie on the List of the 366 Best Weird Films of All Time if not for the equally bizarre black and white slapstick intermezzi featuring a sleazy promoter, a bully conductor, a harried artist and an all-female geriatric orchestra. It helps that the music is transcendent and the animation witty, but throw in a guy in a gorilla suit and the deal is sealed.
Italian DVD trailer for Allegro Non Troppo
COMMENTS: Bruno Bozzetto very wisely addresses the surface similarities between his movie and Disney’s more famous animated classical Continue reading 152. ALLEGRO NON TROPPO (1976)