Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 (Blu-ray)
Walt Disney always hoped FANTASIA would be an ongoing work of art. Something Disney would add to and improve upon as a continuing piece of imagination for years to come. Sixty years later, FANTASIA 2000 was put together in honor of that wish even replaying a fan favorite in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” starring Mickey Mouse. Disney rightfully packages both the original classic FANTASIA with the new continuing addition of FANTASIA 2000 in this exquisite Blu-ray release.
FANTASIA takes portions of famous classical music then interprets them visually through animation and short stories. In between each of these beautiful segments an introduction is presented before The Philadelphia Orchestra performs a different famous piece. Created in 1940, FANTASIA is one of those major influential films in history, combining music with animation. As a pioneer in movie making FANTASIA landed itself at number 58 on the American Film Institutes 100 Years 100 Films. It really is an amazing feat for such an old film to hold up today still teaching and influencing current artistry. The introductions are stuffy and the length is too long but overall the music and visuals makeup for the lack of energy between segments. Everyone is sure to have his or her favorite portions. I personally enjoyed ”The Rite of Spring” by Igor Stravinsky, which chronicles the evolution of life from single celled organisms to dinosaurs. I also enjoyed “Night on Bald Mountain” by Modest Mussorgsky and “Ave Maria” by Franz Schubert in a hauntingly creepy description of death and hell transitioning to hope and new life.
Performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, FANTASIA 2000 has taken the same original format and improved on everything, making it infinitely better. Of course, it wouldn’t exist without the first one and what it does so great only comes from the knowledge of the original. But FANTASIA 2000 lightens the mood, giving shorter introductions done by some popular musicians combined with familiar faces such as Steve Martin, Angela Lansbury, James Earl Jones, Bette Midler, Quincy Jones and Penn and Teller with a little help from Mickey Mouse. It’s much shorter which makes the viewing easy and it doesn’t hurt that every single piece is riveting. I truly love every segment in FANTASIA 2000 starting with “Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony” using splashes of color to illustrate the music. I also enjoyed “Rhapsody In Blue” by George Gershwin. Beginning with lines to create the city of New York, we are introduced to different characters within all telling their own story and struggle. But my new favorite is “Pomp and Circumstance” by Sir Edward Elgar set to Donald Duck on Noah’s Ark. Donald must help gather all the animals with their respective mate two by two. In all the commotion, Donald and Daisy are separated and believe the other to be dead. It’s full of sadness, joy, humor and love. I’m in awe how such a short animated silent film put to music can bring me to tears.
I would be at fault if I didn’t mention “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” by Paul Dukas. Starring Mickey Mouse as the apprentice who tries to make his manual labor a little easier by using magic. Obviously things don’t go as planned as his walking broomstick gets out of hand. This is the one piece that shows up on both films and it is still mesmerizing. I challenge anyone to walk on by as this is being played. It’s an easy enough premise that parents and children alike can all relate to. Trying to cut corners will create problems and not telling anyone only makes things worse. Mickey is the perfect relatable character even if he is a mouse. The use of colors and shadows are amazing, creating a depth and danger to the already high tension.
I highly recommend this Double Feature of FANTASIA films. It’s great for all ages and if you don’t want to watch, it’s easy to pop in and play as a CD. You get some of your favorite classical pieces and as an added bonus, you will be moved by the imagery and story telling done without words but by the language of music. Perhaps in the years to come we will be treated to another addition.
FANTASIA BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: (1080p HD, 1.33:1) The animation is old but still interesting and fun to see the progression from what today’s animation came from.
Audio: (7.1 DTS-HD MA) A great sound to the beautiful scores.
Audio Commentary with Disney Historian Brian Sibley: He gives a lot of detailed information and background about the film. I’ve noticed historians seem to be the best commentaries due to the fact that they are fans of the film and will tell the trivia that other fans will enjoy as well.
Commentary with interviews and story note recreations by Walt Disney, Hosted by Jon Canemaker: I do recommend this one simply because you get to hear Disney’s words about his work from himself.
Commentary by Executive Producer Roy E. Disney, Conductor James Levine, Animation Historian John Canemaker and Film Restoration Manager Scott MacQueen: This one falls a little more flat. They are not in the room together and share typical technical information.
Disney Family Museum (4:05): Family members talk about Walt’s legacy and take a look at his museum. I would love to walk through it.
The Schultheis Notebook A Disney Treasure (13:51): The discovery of this book reveals special effects in animation that many believe may still have not been discovered. Herman Schultheis worked copiously on his detailed notebook that helps show the creative gadgets used for effects in Fantasia.
Interactive Art Gallery: Here you can look through some of the stages of animation.
FANTASIA 2000 BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: (1080p HD, 1.78:1): The visual are nothing short of exquisite.
Audio: (7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio): Great sound. The music is a joy to listen to. If you don’t want to watch it, at least pop it in and listen.
Audio Commentary by Executive Producer Roy E. Disney, Conductor James Levine and Producer Don Ernst: They keep the conversation moving and on topic about the process and making of Fantasia 2000. Interesting but also a bit boring depending on how much you care about the technical process.
Audio Commentary by the Directors and Art Directors for each segment: I like that each segment has a separate commentary for those who worked on each one. Some are obviously shorter than others but you can skip to whatever is your favorite and find some interesting tidbits about the creation of it. This is more for those animation enthusiasts. Look for a certain famous animated mouse to make an appearance.
Musicana (9:20): Animators and historians discuss Walt Disney’s inspiration for wanting to continue Fantasia.
Destino (6:31): Academy Award Nominated Animated Short for 2003. This is abstract and weird, creative animation but weird.
Dali and Disney: A Date with Destino Documentary (1:22:18): This documentary is too long about the artists Salvador Dali and Walt Disney’s differences, how they got their start and how they came to collaborate.
Disney’s Virtual Vault: An extremely extensive feature with a little something extra on every segment from both films, Fantasia and Fantasia 2000. Don’t worry you can play all or pick which ever segment you are interested in.