Debussy, Dvorak, Ravel, Sibelius, Stravinsky, and Vivaldi all get to see their masterpieces turned into bawdy, earthy satire in Allegro Non Troppo, Brono Bozzetto’s very Italian sendup of Fantasia.
That pretty much says it all; the great Maurizio Nichetti plays “the Animator” to a pretentious Conductor, a hack Producer and an orchestra full of Old Ladies that are kept behind bars until needed. These bits of live action slapstick comedy are intercut with the different animated shorts to create an anthology film where highbrow and lowbrow are inexorably fused together.
It was the mid-seventies, after all, and Allegro Non Troppo is definitely a film of its time- an undercurrent of sex, sex, and more sex runs throughout, though most of it is hinted at. It’s more the feeling of earthy sexuality that pours out of the celluloid, as the film is really a celebration and expression of our carnal urges- not just sex, but violence, our need to consume, and more. Humans don’t really come out looking too well in Allegro Non Troppo, for good reason.
We see the Earth’s evolution, from primal ooze to its inevitable conclusion, time out perfectly to Ravel’s Bolero– probably the most memorable of all the animated shorts. We see a modern take on Adam & Eve (and the Snake). Sensuality abides in a story of an old fawn looking for love, and Looney Tunes-like slapstick surrounds another tale of a cute little bug trying to have a nice domestic moment while amorous humans lurk nearby.
And more. Allegro Non Troppo is memorable and unique, a product that could only emerge from that country at that time. Modern audiences may have trouble connecting to the over-the-top vibe (especially in the live action segments, which are total Monty Python style silliness) but if you’re willing to take the trip, it’s quite an unforgettable ride.
NOTE TO CURIOUS PARENTS: Is this film okay for kids to watch? That depends on how liberal you are. There is no actual sex shown, and most of the innuendo will go over their heads. Still, some parts of the animation are intense- it’s definitely not for pre-schoolers, might be fine for your ten-year-old. Watch it yourself before deciding if it’s right for your kid!
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