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THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE

A Magical Journey Through Time
It must be magic.

"The Sorcerer's Apprentice” has sparked the imagination of some of the most creative minds in history—from Nicolas Cage, Jon Turteltaub and Jerry Bruckheimer to composer Paul Dukas and Walt Disney.

But it all started with a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a great German writer, thinker and natural scientist who penned "Der Zauberlehrling,” the enduring work of poetry, in 1797. Goethe's 14-stanza poem is narrated by the apprentice himself, who, upon being left to his own devices by his old "Hexenmeister,” takes it upon himself to arrogantly demonstrate his own magical arts. The apprentice orders an old broomstick to wrap itself in rags, grow a head and two arms and, with a bucket, prepare a bath for him. The living broomstick fills not only the tub, but every bowl and cup, and the apprentice has forgotten the magic word to make it stop, resulting in a massive flood. The apprentice takes an axe to the poor old broom, splitting it in twain…resulting in two living broomsticks. The apprentice is finally bailed out, quite literally, by the return of the old hexenmeister, who quickly sends the broom back into the closet from whence it came, with an imprecation that it will return only when he, the true master, calls it forth once again to do his bidding.

A hundred years later, the poem was adapted into a hugely popular 10-minute symphonic piece, "L'apprenti sorcier,” by the French composer Paul Dukas. An immediate success for its brilliant musical coloration and rhythmic excellence, and its wonderfully jaunty "march of the broomsticks,” the scherzo has truly stood the test of time and is, to a popular audience anyway, Dukas' most enduring work. Walt Disney discovered it some four decades after that, creating an animated version for his immortal "Fantasia,” casting none other than Mickey Mouse in the title role of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice.” In the summer of 1937, while dining alone at Chasen's restaurant in Beverly Hills, the still-youthful king of movie animation invited the famed conductor Leopold Stokowski to join him, and something extraordinary was conjured up between them.

Walt Disney had already utilized music as a foundation of his animated film series, Silly Symphonies, and hoped to collaborate with Stokowski on a cartoon short based on Dukas' "The Sorcerer's Apprentice.”

The idea of putting classical music to animated segments was later expanded, ultimately creating the wildly risky but wonderfully ambitious "Fantasia.” The 125-minute film—unusually long even today for an animated feature—opened to great fanfare on November 13, 1940, at the Broadway Theatre in New York City. The music was enhanced by a multichannel sound system, especially developed for the film, called Fantasound, and "Fantasia” became the first commercial motion picture ever to be exhibited with stereophonic sound. The film now stands as an eternal testament to Walt Disney's artistic ambitions and unshakable will to advance the art form of both animation and motion pictures by creating something which audiences had never before seen nor heard. "Fantasia” is one of the films selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice” episode is generally considered the best and most beloved episode of all.

Now, 69 years after the release of "Fantasia,” Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films have created a fresh story for the big screen. While inspired by those that came before it, 2010's "The Sorcerer's Apprentice” is an all-new live-action adventure. The message remains simple and fun, yet timeless and profound. "What's great about the story is this little lesson about cutting corners, doing things the easy way, trying to fulfill this desire we all have to grow up a little too fast,” says Turteltaub.

The cinematic rebir

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