Ah, Night on Bald Mountain. Probably rating pretty high on the “this is not for children” spectrum of Disney. I doubt it’s common for a children’s movie to feature a long sequence of Satan stealing souls from earth and subjecting them to eternal fiery torture.
Even if he were just a demon, rather than Satan himself, Chernabog is fairly terrifying. Not only is he able to reach down into the valley and pull souls directly into hell, but he is absolute enormous. He is the size of the mountain, so much so that he essentially IS the mountain. Chernabog seems to thrive on torture, gaining strength with each soul he tortures, crushing fire in his hand, transforming souls into demons, and summoning harpies to continue the torture.
Just when it seems that this massive beast has complete power and control over everything, the church bell slowly and quietly begins to ring. As the bell tolls, Chernabog loses his control and, defeated, sinks back into the mountain, releasing his tortured and imprisoned souls.
Schubert’s Ave Maria begins, and we see a long line of monks quietly and calmly make their way through the forest, each carrying a small light. It is a far cry from the chaos we’ve just seen, and reminds us that there is always hope in the midst of disaster and terror. The monks are slow, calm, patient, never wavering from the long line they walk. They are not scared to walk through complete darkness, because they each have a small light. And though that light may not shine very much, it is enough to see by, and when they are all together, the light is more enough to keep them safe.
Notice how the monks walk through the forest, and how the bridges they cross and trees they pass slowly and gradually take the shape of gothic church windows. Before they even reach the cathedral, they are already in a churchlike place. For these monks, all they need is peace and light in order to turn a dark woods into a place of reflection. When they finally reach the ruins of the cathedral, the doors open into a calm landscape, devoid of the terrors wrought by Chernabog, and full of peace.
A fitting image to end the film.