The Jack-in-the-Box is the main antagonist in the Piano Concerto No. 2 segment of Disney's 38th full-length animated feature film Fantasia 2000 and the overall secondary antagonist of the film itself. He is the Tin Soldier's arch-nemesis.
While the segments all have no dialogue in the entire film, the segment's music was performed by James Levine and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
The Jack-in-the-Box went through several different designs during the production of the segment, including those of a king, a clown, a 19th-century melodrama villain, a French soldier, and a pirate.
The Jack-in-the-Box is a large toy encased in a brown music box with pink diamond-shaped markings on the sides and spots of gold paint on the corners. When out of it, he resembles a jester with a long pointy nose, a brown beard, thick eyebrows, a bald head, brown eyes, red lips, and rosy cheeks. He is dressed in a blue harlequin outfit, complete with a gold-lined collar and a blue and purple hat with two points, each with a gold bell at the end. His head also takes up the majority of his coiled body, while his arms are smaller when compared. Because the box acts as the lower portion of his body, he can only hop around as mobility.
The Jack-in-the-Box is portrayed as a cunning, evil, lustful and manipulative toy. He is very misogynistic, oppressive, arrogant and cruel. He is also shown to be a competitive and pugnacious fighter, as he starts to take part in a violent struggle against the Tin Soldier while using a toy sword. Despite his flaws, he is shown to be in love with the Ballerina, so that he can try to marry her. He is also shown to be extremely angry when he confronts the Tin Soldier and the Ballerina.
Role in the film
At night, when all of the toys in the boy's toy room come to life, the Jack-in-the-Box is the second toy to do so. The first toy to come to life is the Ballerina. She then catches his interest, and he decides that he must have her for himself. However, his attempts to woo her fail miserably as she rejects him.
Things get more complicated for him when the Tin Soldier arrives and wins the Ballerina over with his kind and sympathetic personality. Angered, the Jack-in-the-Box frantically confronts the couple, traps the Ballerina under a glass, and attempts to do away with the Tin Soldier. He first tries to throw some wooden blocks at the Tin Soldier in order to knock him out of the window, but only to have the hero knock one back at him with his bayonet, dislodging the Jack-in-the-Box's hat and revealing his bald spot (much to the Ballerina's amusement). However, when the Jack-in-the-Box tosses a wooden boat at his opponent, the Tin Soldier is successfully eliminated from and the Ballerina is left at his mercy.
While the Tin Soldier is away, the Jack-in-the-Box tries to win over his enthusiastic girlfriend once again, this time by offering her some plastic roses. Remembering what he did to her friend, the Ballerina rejects him again. Infuriated, he leaps forward and tries to grab her, only for him to hit his head on the door of the toy castle.
On the night that the Tin Soldier returns home, the Jack-in-the-Box becomes more determined than ever to have the Ballerina and grabs her, roughly forcing her to dance with him. Angered, the Tin Soldier rushes to her side to protect her, at which point the Jack-in-the-Box pulls out a toy sword, and continuously tries to strike his rival, chasing him to the edge of the table. Thinking that he has the Tin Soldier cornered, the Jack-in-the-Box leaps toward him to finish him off. However, the Tin Soldier blocks his sword with his bayonet and defeats him by pushing him over the edge of the table, where he falls into the fireplace below and immediately burns to his death, bringing his tyranny over the boy's toy room to an end once and for all.
The Jack-in-the-Box without his hat.
The Jack-in-the-Box forcefully dancing with the Ballerina.
The Jack-in-the-Box falling into the fireplace.
The Jack-in-the-Box's death.
Concept of the Jack-in-the-Box as a French soldier.
Concept of the Jack-in-the-Box as a King.
Concept of the Jack-in-the-Box as a 19th-century Melodrama Villain.
Concept of the Jack-in-the-Box as a Clown by Hans Bacher.
Concept of the Jack-in-the-Box as a Pirate.
The Jack-in-the-Box as he appears in the 1938 storyboards by Bianca Majolie.
In the original story, the Jack-in-the-Box was a black goblin who lived in a snuffbox. It is implied that he may have been the one who caused the Tin Soldier to fall out of the window, but it is also said that it may have been the wind.
The Jack-in-the-Box's death is the major deviation that film has towards the original story. In the original story, the Tin Soldier and the Ballerina were the ones who perished in the fire and not the Jack-in-the-Box. While the original intention for the segment was to have the same ending from the source material, it was ultimately changed because the crew felt that the music didn't match with the scene and thus the segment was rewritten to give the Tin Soldier and the Ballerina a happy ending and a fitting commeuppance to the Jack-in-the-Box.
In the 1938 set of storyboards for the short film version of the segment by Bianca Majolie, the Jack-in-the-Box appears as a green demon-like creature with horns and pointy ears. The ending shows him pushing the soldier into the fireplace, but (much to his dismay) the Ballerina jumps in right after.