I have a confession to make: I actually prefer Fantasia 2000 to
its predecessor. Don’t get me wrong, the original Fantasia is
a landmark in film animation, but, at over two hours, it’s also a bit of a slog.
In contrast, F2K is
a lean 75 minutes, and every segment is a knock out, both visually and
emotionally (although I could have done without Penn and Teller). Favorite
moments include the soaring whales of Respighi’s “Pines of Rome”, the ever
Steadfast Tin Soldier of Shostakovich’s “Piano Concerto No. 2”, the rebirth of
the Sprite in Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite” and all of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in
Blue”, Eric Goldberg’s delightful tribute to master caricaturist Al Hirschfeld.
As well as the two original DVD commentaries (one by executive producer Roy
Disney, conductor James Levine and producer Don Ernst, the other by the
directors and art directors of each segment), bonus features on Disc 2 include “Musicana”,
a look at an earlier attempt for a second Fantasia,
this one developed during the 1970’s with an international concept, using native
music from different countries in each segment. The Disney BD Live-enabled
“Virtual Vault” is also available for those with an internet connected Blu-ray
The big draw here though is the first ever home video release of Destino,
the acclaimed animated short that was, literally, years in the making.
Originally conceived as a collaboration between famed surrealist painter
Salvador Dalí and Walt Disney in 1945, the project was eventually scrapped and
all but forgotten. Again, Roy Disney came to the rescue, soon after Fantasia 2000,
and oversaw the long-delayed production of Destino.
A true piece of surrealism, Destino is
a great introduction to the form for novices and a sublime smorgasbord for
connoisseurs. Quite simply, it is unlike any other Disney short ever, which is
likely the cause for it being abandoned originally. Beautifully animated under
the guidance of French director Dominique Monféry, Destino is
like a “Dalí’s Greatest Hits”, filled as it is with such signature motifs of his
as ants crawling out of an open wound, faces composed of various, dissimilar
objects and (of course) clocks. What does it all mean? That’s up to the viewer
to decipher, but as someone who has seen a lot of surrealist films, believe me
when I say that Destino is
the most accessible.
Destino was originally scheduled for DVD release a few years back under
the short-lived “Disney Legacy” banner. It was to be a two-disc set… for a seven
minute short. So there was a lot of padding created for it, including the
feature length (!) documentary “Dalí and Disney: A Date with Destino”,
included here. The doc spends a
lot of time drawing parallels
between the lives of the Spanish artist and the American moviemaker; the bulk of
the later will be nothing new to even the most casual Disney enthusiast. On the
other hand, the Dalí sections will help fill in your knowledge of Salvador,
especially his brief cinematic involvements, such as the infamous Luis Buñuel
film Un Chien Andalou (a.k.a. An
Andalusian Dog) and the dream sequence in Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound.
The final third of “A Date with Destino”
finally gets around to the making of Destino,
both in the 1940’s and the 2000’s. Present during both time periods was Disney
Legend John Hench, who provided immeasurable help when it at last came time to
make the short; be sure to pay attention to his comments, as he reveals hints
behind the meaning of some of Dalí’s bizarre symbolism.
In addition to all the Fantasia Anthology bonus
material that was left out, there were at least two more features that were to
be included on the cancelled Destino DVD
that could have easily seen the light here. According to a 2008 press release,
"Encounters with Walt" detailed the “surprisingly diverse group of celebrities
and artists who were attracted to Walt Disney's early work”, while “The Disney
That Almost Was" took a look at some of the studio's many unfinished projects.
One unfinished project was a thirdFantasia, to be
titled Fantasia 2006,
which was to include not only Destino,
but also One by One, The
Little Matchgirl and Lorenzo.
The former two found their way onto the Platinum Editions of (respectively)The
Lion King and The
Little Mermaid as bonus shorts,
while the later, although an Oscar nominee, has yet to debut on DVD. There
inclusion here would have also been most welcome.
Why Disney chose to ignore all this rich material that surely would have made
this a truly “Special Edition” is almost as puzzling as Destino itself.