Walt Disney's 1942 FANTASIA was a groundbreaking film and remains a landmark to this day, a brilliant series of animated sequences set to notable concert music conducted by Leopold Stokowski of The Philadelphia Orchestra. The three disk FANTASIA ANTHOLOGY, however, is extremely overrated.
The first disk is the original FANTASIA, which Disney describes as restored. This is not strictly true. First and foremost, the restoration of visual elements is sloppy at best, with the film plagued by streaks and blips, and at least one sequence ("Dance of the Hours") appears to be slightly cropped. That aside, portions of the Deems Taylor narration have been completely lost, and these have been rerecorded by Tim Matheson--and Matheson's voice is not a good match for Taylor and the sychronization is poorly done. Lastly, one selection ("Pastoral") has been censored: a brief image, which would be considered racist by today's standards, has been deleted from the sequence.
Even so, it is still FANTASIA, and it overcomes all of these liabilities. The animation, which was created by hand and photographed through a number of laborious processes, shows Disney Studios at the height of its powers. Every one is certain to have their favorites among the selections (mine are "Dance of the Hours" and "Night on Bald Mountain"), but every selection is brilliantly conceived and executed, and although the content varies from sequence to sequence the overall style of the film hangs together in a most remarkable way. FANTASIA was, is, and will no doubt will forever remain a touchstone in animation art.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the second disk, FANTASIA 2000. This particular film is extremely uneven, the sequences lack the same cohesive style that held the original FANTASIA together, and the entire film is beset by a series of often obnoxious "celebrity" introductions that give the film the feel of a made-for-TV variety show. Still, some of the visual ideas are very impressive, and while they are too few to offset the portions of the film that do not work, they still make FANTASIA 2000 mildly entertaining.
Both the FANTASIA and FANTASIA 2000 disks include documentaries and commentary tracks on each film. The third disk, called "The Fantasia Legacy," is a bonus packed with interviews, archieval footage, and sketches that show how each sequence in both films was developed and then filmed. Some of this material is redundant, for it is included on the documentaries on the first two disks, but most of it is unique to this disk alone. Disney originally saw FANTASIA as a film that could be re-released with a mix of old and new selections every few years, and the most interesting material on the "Legacy" disk is a restored "Clair de Lune" (made for and then cut from the original FANTASIA) and various storyboard ideas for future sequences.
The only way one can obtain the "Legacy" disk is to purchase this three disk package--and therein lies the rub. The original FANTASIA is brilliant, and even in its so-so state it is worthy of a place in any DVD library. FANTASIA 2000, however, is trivial, occasionally interesting but not greatly memorable and not a piece that one would normally go out of the way to purchase. And the price for the three disk package is quite steep.
If you are a Disney fan who must have every scrap of material available, I would recommend the investment this package requires. But if your primary interest is the original FANTASIA, you are much better off simply purchasing a DVD of that film alone--the other two disks are simply not worth the expense. Purchasers should alos remember that the original FANTASIA does not often appeal to very young children, and if the purchase is being made for a child you are likely to be disappointed in their response. Final thought: the original FANTASIA is brilliant, FANTASIA 2000 is so-so, and the bonus disk is for hardcore fans. This pricey package is recommended to the latter only.