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Toon Talk: Fantasia and Fantasia 2000
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by Kirby Holt (archives)
December 9, 2010
Kirby reviews the new Blu-Ray and DVD release of Fantasia and Fantasia 2000.
Toon Talk: Disney Film and DVD Reviews
by Kirby C. Holt


Disney DVDs and Blu-Rays
MPAA Rating: G

Make Mine  Music

70 years ago, Walt Disney unveiled what would become known as his masterpiece, Fantasia. Combining classical music with cutting edge animation, the concert feature was intended to feature new segments periodically to create an ever-evolving musical program. However, with the European markets closed due to World War II and a disappointing public reaction in the United States, that idea wasnt realized

That is, until 60 years later, when Walts nephew Roy E. Disney revived his uncles dream with Fantasia 2000. And now, 10 years after that, both films have recently been released on high definition Disney Blu-rays for the first time. And, as a bonus, we finally get the lost Dal/Disney short Destino as well.

And while, as would be expected, the two Fantasias look amazing / stunning / breath taking (pick your superlative) in high def, the new 4-Disc Special Edition is, overall, a disappointment. First off, dont get too excited about those four discs. Two are the Blu-rays of each film; the other two are just regular DVDs of the same thing. Not that big a deal though, as these DVD/Blu-ray Combo Packs are increasingly becoming the norm; even the other studios are starting to do it.

Whats missing is the huge amount of supplemental material created for The Fantasia Anthology 3-DVD box set (released in 2000). Out of all that was available, only the audio commentaries have been carried over to this new set. The new bonuses, including some that take full advantage of Blu-ray capabilities, are fine and dandy, but its a real shame that Disney didnt include a third disc of extras to make this edition really special.

The Fantasia disc features two viewing options for the main event, the first being the film in its original 4:3 theatrical presentation. And for those with widescreen televisions who want the image to fill that screen, you can choose the Disney View option, which inserts artwork (by artist Harrison Ellenshaw, son of Disney Legend Peter Ellenshaw) on both sides of the main picture. This art changes throughout the film to compliment each scene.

Not available on the disc is the option to view the original, uncensored Fantasia. The image of a black centaur named Sunflower in Beethovens The Pastoral Symphony sequence, considered an offensive stereotype, has been cropped out of the scene for several years, and is still missing here.

Of course, what isnt missing is the spectacle that is and always has been Fantasia, from the opening strains of Bachs Toccata and Fugue in D Minor to the closing moments of Schuberts Ave Maria. In between, theres sugarplum faeries, dancing mushrooms, menacing dinosaurs, frolicking fauns, balletic pachyderms and one really big, really nasty demon. Oh, and a certain mouse named Mickey in his feature film debut, as the title character in Dukas The Sorcerers Apprentice (the only 1940 segment to appear in Fantasia 2000).

New bonus material included on Disc 1 includes two features spotlighting the Disney Family Museum, located in San Francisco, California. Walts daughter, Diane Disney Miller, hosts a brief introduction to the museum, which also serves as the backdrop to the next featurette, The Schultheis Notebook: A Disney Treasure. Originally prepared by a member of Disneys camera effects department, Herman Schulte, during the production of Fantasia, this document has become known as the Rosetta Stone of special effects animation. Its existence unknown of for years, the recently discovered notebook reveals all of the secrets of how the films many photographic effects were created, such as the spinning snowflakes in Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, the spewing volcanoes in Stravinskys Rite of Spring and the spooky ghosts in Mussorgskys Night on Bald Mountain.

Both Fantasia 1940 and Fantasia 2000 are featured in the nifty state of the art Interactive Art Gallery. A leap ahead of the old DVD galleries, this one allows you to view the images in slideshows, rate and favorite them, and even look them up by keywords using the Smart Index. Want to see all the artwork, from pencil sketches to concept art, of, say, animals? Just click on the word in the Smart Index, and youll see 'em all, from the hippos and alligators of Ponchiellis Dance of the Hours to all the denizens of Noahs ark from Glebas Pomp and Circumstance.

In addition to the two original DVD commentaries (the first, hosted by animation historian John Canemaker, includes vintage audio recordings and story note recreations; the second is provided by Roy Disney, Fantasia 2000 conductor James Levine, Film Restoration Manager Scott McQueen and Canemaker), Disney historian Brian Sibly is featured on a new audio commentary as well.

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