Admittedly I am not a fan of either Fantasia or Fantasia 2000 but I can still appreciate what they were trying to do and the experiment Walt Disney himself was trying to accomplish. It might have failed back in 1940 but the film has its devoted followers and while I may not be one of them, this is still a set well worth picking up. Personally, I loved the Destino animated short which, as far as I can tell, is the first time it has been available on home video.
Fantasia (1940) / Fantasia 2000 (1999)
Genre(s): Animation, Music
Disney | G – TRT 300 min. – $45.99 | November 30, 2010
Directed by: NA
Features: Commentaries, Featurettes, Short Film, BD-Live, DVD Copies
Number of Discs: 4
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 7.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Full Frame 1.33, Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
THE MOVIES – 3.5/5
“Seeing music and hearing pictures.”
Fantasia – 3.25/5
The late 30s and early 40s were considered the Golden Age of Walt Disney Pictures and it was in 1940 that the studio’s most ambitious and experimental feature was released upon the world. Fantasia is a film considered by many as a masterpiece, a classic film amongst the greatest in animation and to that extent I will grant you. However, even as a kid I wasn’t that enthralled with the movie finding it tedious and often boring. Now 15 some-odd years later and to be perfectly honest, while I have a far greater appreciation for what the animators did, in conjunction with the orchestra, I still wasn’t pulled in by anything in the movie.
That being said, although I never became enmored with Fantasia and still feel it is slightly overrated, I can at least see why people still call back to it after 70 years. The music itself is great and how the animators got to synchronize was not an easy task back then whereas today it could be done via computers. So props to Disney and company for the job they did seven decades ago.
However, I also know of the controversy surrounding the PC edit the film went through and for those wondering, yes it is still in there and I highly doubt you will ever get to see it outside of maybe Youtube or older copies of the film.
In the end, I guess I didn’t like Fantasia as a whole because it was not my style of entertainment. I’ve liked Disney animated features in the past, including the Pixar movies, but outside of maybe ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’, none of it really had an impact on me other than admiration for what the filmmakers did.
Fantasia 2000 – 3.5/5
With the sequel headed by Walt Disney’s son, Roy E. Disney, I actually enjoyed it a tad better since at only 75-minutes, it’s a much leaner film. For this version they intercut some footage from Fantasia to present the premise of the “Seeing music, hearing pictures” concept but updated it with new segments and a couple classics including, of course, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. This time the segments are introduced by a few celebrities including Steve Martin, Quincy Jones, James Earl Jones, Bette Midler, Penn & Teller and Angela Lansbury.
Fantasia 2000 certainly an interesting update to a classic and while I realize most consider this inferior to the original, like I said, I liked it a tad more. Is that blasphemous? Perhaps, but I also realize I am one of the few that did wholly embrace Fantasia…
Overall, I do appreciate what Walt Disney and the Disney Company as a whole were trying to accomplish with Fantasia. It was an ambitious endeavor – some would argue overly ambitious – trying to re-release a concert every year with new segments to give audiences a different experience every time.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2/5
BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVES – 3.75/5
This four-disc set comes in an HD Keep Case (double the width of a standard BD case) with a glossy and reflective slip cover.
Fantasia Blu-ray – 3/5, Fantasia DVD – 2/5
Feature Commentaries – There are two commentary tracks offered here. The first is with Disney Historian Brian Sibley and the second is compiled of interviews and story note recreations by Walt Disney and Hosted by John Canamaker. This one was on the original DVD while the first is in fact a ** Blu-ray Exclusive **.
Disney Family Museum (4:05) – We get a tour and history lesson of the Disney Museum and what it offers. Although it is short, it might be interesting for Disney aficionados for which I am not.
The Schultheis Notebook: A Disney Treasure (13:51) – Here you can take a look at a document that “illuminated” several secret techniques used to film Fantasia. This book is housed at the Disney Family Museum. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Last on the Fantasia Blu-ray is an Interactive Art Gallery where you can take a look various images through a system to search for specific drawings and whatnot. Not a bad feature but it is clunky in its presentation. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Fantasia 2000 Blu-ray – 4.25/5, Fantasia 2000 DVD – 1/5
Feature Commentaries – The first commentary is with Executive Producer Roy E. Disney (who passed away in 2009), Conductor James Levine and Producer Don Ernst. Luckily all three participants are in the same room so it makes for a lively commentary as they share their thoughts on the movie. The second track is with the directors and art directors for each segment. Both were available on the original DVD though they are NOT on the DVD included in this set.
Musicana (9:20) covers the animation of the unused sequel for Fantasia and features interviews with various historians and/or those involved in Disney. But due to the film’s poor reception, it never came to be.
Dali & Disney: A Date with Destino (1:22:18) – This is a highly extensive documentary on the background for Destino covering the relationship between dark Spanish artist Salvador Dali and master of animation creativity, Walt Disney. This is an interesting feature giving insights into the collaboration between the two men and what brought about the once lost Destino. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Destino (6:31) – The short film finally makes its way onto home video. This short animated film was originally conceived and started in 1945 and, as outlined in “Daly and Disney” was collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali. It wasn’t until 58 years later was it completed after, in 1999 while Roy Disney was working on Fantasia 2000, found the unfinished project and decided to complete it. Unlike the Fantasia movies, I was actually enamored with this animated short, brilliant animation, addictive music (sung by Dore Luz) and a great story makes this a must-see. Unfortunately for DVD-only owners, this is a ** Blu-ray Exclusive **.
And finally, we have Disney’s Virtual Vault is similar to the “Interactive Art Gallery” including the clunky navigation. Here you can look at early concepts, story reels and other items attached to the segments from either movie. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Fantasia – 4.5/5
Given that this film is going on 70 years old, I was very impressed with the video transfer. Fantasia is presented in its original Full Frame 1.33 aspect ratio and now in 1080p high-definition. You also have two options to watch the film: one is the standard version with black bars along the side while the other is via “DisneyView” where the sides are filled in with artwork that corresponds with the segment on the screen. The video itself looks great as from what I can tell is void of dust, scratches and other imperfections. The detail levels are also look fantastic with vibrant colors during the animated segments and even during the orchestral parts in between you get splashes of color that pop out as well.
Fantasia 2000 – 4.5/5
This movie was released in 1999 so I knew that if Fantasia looked spectacular on Blu-ray, its sequel should as well, and it didn’t disappoint. With Fantasia 2000, there is far more details to look at as they expand the host segments and of course the animated parts once again look very sharp. Fantasia 2000 is presented in its original 1.78 aspect ratio and in 1080p HD. For fans of both films, these will never look better.
AUDIO – 5/5
Fantasia – 4.75/5
Once again, Disney does not disappoint with its audio presentation either. This receives an excellent 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track which makes full use of each channel primarily during the music in each segment. I did drop the rating down a notch because the audio does top out a few times due to the original soundtrack but otherwise fans will be impressed.
Fantasia 2000 – 5/5
The sequel also received a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track and this one is absolute perfection from the host sections to the animated segments, each are crisp and clear throughout. To hear the Chicago Symphony Orchestra come through each channel, even as someone who isn’t the biggest fan of classical music, it’s something to behold.
Also, the DVD versions of each film feature much the same presentation both visually and aurally though much more low-key. The DVDs have the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks and the video are both in their original aspect ratios.
OVERALL – 3.75/5
Admittedly I am not a fan of either Fantasia or Fantasia 2000 but I can still appreciate what they were trying to do and the experiment Walt Disney himself was trying to accomplish. It might have failed back in 1940 but the film has its devoted followers and while I may not be one of them, this is still a set well worth picking up. Personally, I loved the Destino animated short which, as far as I can tell, is the first time it has been available on home video. For some reason this short is only available on the Blu-ray copy which is unfortunate for those without a Blu-ray player as it is well worth others to see.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman