TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 25 October 2014
FANTASIA / FANTASIA 2000 [1940/1999] [2 Movie Collection] [Blu-ray] FANTASIA is Timeless! FANTASIA Represents Our Most Exciting Adventure! FANTASIA 2000 is Fantastic and It’s Better Than Ever!
FANTASIA: Walt Disney's timeless masterpiece is an extravaganza of sight and sound and now brilliantly presented in high definition with an all new digital restoration. With Blu-ray technology makes it possible for you to finally experience ‘FANTASIA’ the way Walt Disney envisioned! Plus, an exploration of the new Disney Family Museum and dynamic bonus features allow generations of moviegoers to enjoy this musical masterpiece like never before. No family's Disney Blu-ray collection is complete without ‘FANTASIA.’ See the music come to life, hear the pictures burst into song and experience the excitement that is ‘FANTASIA’ over and over again through the magic of Blu-ray. Narrated by Deems Taylor.
FANTASIA 2000: Experience an extravaganza of sight and sound in ‘FANTASIA 2000,’ the triumphant classic inspired by Walt Disney's vision of ‘Fantasia’ as a work-in-progress, now brilliantly presented in high definition. Plus, for the first time ever on Blu-ray, experience the 2003 Academy Award® nominated animated short ‘Destino’ and the extraordinary collaboration between Walt Disney and legendary artist Salvador Dali! Through the magic of Blu-ray, fully immerse yourself in the wonders of this innovative blend of music and animated imagery. See the music come to life, hear the pictures burst into song and share the excitement that is ‘FANTASIA 2000,’ with your family again and again.
FILM FACT: Walt Disney on the widescreen release of ‘FANTASIA’ in 1956: "I wanted a special show just like Cinerama plays today ... I had ‘FANTASIA’ set for a wide screen. I had dimensional sound ... To get that wide screen I had the projector running sideways ... I had the double frame. But I didn't get to building my cameras or my projectors because the money problem came in ... The compromise was that it finally went out standard with dimensional sound. I think if I'd had the money and I could have gone ahead I'd have a really sensational show at that time." ‘FANTASIA’ is timeless. It may run 10, 20 or 30 years. It may run after I'm gone. Fantasia is an idea in itself. I can never build another ‘FANTASIA.’ I can improve. I can elaborate. That's all.
Cast [FANTASIA]: Corey Burton (uncredited), Deems Taylor (Narrative Introductions), James MacDonald (uncredited), Julietta Novis (uncredited), Paul J. Smith (uncredited) and Walt Disney (uncredited)
Directors [FANTASIA]: Ben Sharpsteen, Bill Roberts, Ford Beebe Jr., Hamilton Luske, James Algar, Jim Handley, Norman Ferguson, Paul Satterfield, Samuel Armstrong, T. Hee and Wilfred Jackson
Producers [FANTASIA]: Walt Disney and Ben Sharpsteen (uncredited)
Screenplay [FANTASIA]: Albert Heath, Arthur Heinemann, Bianca Majolie, Campbell Grant, Carl Fallberg, Dick Huemer, Elmer Plummer, Erdman Penner, Graham Heid, Joe Grant, John McLeish, Joseph Sabo, Lee Blair, Leo Thiele, Norman Wright, Otto Englander, Perce Pearce, Phil Dike, Robert Sterner, Sylvia Moberly-Holland, Vernon Stallings, Webb Smith and William Martin
Cinematography [FANTASIA]: James Wong Howe (live-action) (uncredited)
Conductor [FANTASIA]: Leopold Stokowski and The Philadelphia Orchestra
Cast [FANTASIA 2000]: Angela Lansbury (Host), Benee Leavy (Violinist), Bette Midler (Host), Deborah Vukovitz (Violinist), Deems Taylor (Host) (archive footage), Eric Goldberg (Animator), Gaëtan Brizzi (Animator) (uncredited), Hendel Butoy (Animator) (uncredited), Itzhak Perlman (Host), James Earl Jones (Host), James Levine (Host), Kathleen Battle (singing voice), Leopold Stokowski (Conductor) (archive footage), Paul Brizzi (Animator) (uncredited), Penn Jillette (Host), Quincy Jones (Host), Ralph Grierson (Pianist), Russi Taylor (Daisy Duck) (voice), Steve Martin (Introductory Host), Teller (Host), Tony Anselmo (Donald Duck) (voice), Wayne Allwine (Mickey Mouse) (voice) and Yefim Bronfman (Pianist) (uncredited)
Directors [FANTASIA 2000]: Don Hahn, Eric Goldberg, Francis Glebas, Gaëtan Brizzi, Hendel Butoy, James Algar, Paul Brizzi and Pixote Hunt
Producers [FANTASIA 2000]: David Lovegren, Donald W. Ernst, Lisa C. Cook, Patricia Hicks and Roy Edward Disney
Screenplay [FANTASIA 2000]: Carl Fallberg, David Reynolds, Don Hahn, Elena Driskill, Eric Goldberg, Gaëtan Brizzi, Hans Christian Andersen (story), Irene Mecchi, Joe Grant, Paul Brizzi and Perce Pearce
Cinematography [FANTASIA 2000]: Tim Suhrstedt
Conductor [FANTASIA 2000]: James Levine and The Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 and 1.78:1
Audio: English: 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish: 5.1 DTS-HD, Dutch: 5.1 DTS-HD, Portuguese: 5.1 Dolby Digital, Belgian: 5.1 Dolby Digital, Polish: 5.1 Dolby Digital and Hebrew: 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Polish and Hebrew
Running Time: 124 minutes and 74 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 2
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: Filmed with a 60 years gap 'FANTASIA' and 'FANTASIA 2000' has completely different looks, but each one appears magnificent in these 1080p restorations. Walt Disney's loving care for its classics is evident here. These faithful presentations leave us with an image that is, by far, the best they've ever looked. Though today it is recognized worldwide as a brand, the Disney name once belonged to a visionary. Walt Disney was a man who pushed the limits of what art could do. Anyone who thinks otherwise should look no further than 1940's ‘FANTASIA.’ A project near and dear to his heart, ‘FANTASIA’ combined two of Walt Disney's passions: art and music. While his expertise lied in visual mediums and he was no musician, Walt Disney still possessed a keen sense of what an aural experience could provide.
A marriage of classical notes and images, ‘FANTASIA’ took feature animation to places it had never before been. As you know, Fantasia is not a traditional animated film. Titled "The Concert Feature" at one point, this experience has no central protagonist or antagonist, no overarching plot, and not even any dialogue save for linking segments. Instead, it takes various pieces of classical music and marries them to animation to create a unique form of entertainment. The compositions included in the program are as follows: Johann Sebastian Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" using abstract imagery, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker Suite" with the theme of seasonal changes, Paul Dukas' "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" starring Mickey Mouse as an apprentice whose magic spins out of control, Igor Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" set to the evolution of the world, Ludwig van Beethoven's "The Pastoral Symphony" using Mount Olympus characters of Greek myths, Amilcare Ponchielli's "Dance of the Hours" as performed by different animals to demonstrate the times of day, Modest Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain" with the theme of evil and supernatural creatures, and finally Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria" in which a forest is transformed into a natural chapel. Each of these pieces is conducted by the legendary Leopold Stokowski and hosted by noted music critic and historian Deems Taylor.
The conjunction of classical music and animation is brilliant. Every nuance in the orchestration can be fully visualised in a manner that would be too confining in live-action. Animation allows for a fantastical and surreal approach where the sky is the limit. It helps that the film never limits itself to one single style. Here we get everything from realism ("The Rite of Spring") and impressionism ("Toccata and Fugue") to horror ("Night on Bald Mountain") and farce ("Dance of the Hours"). There's really something for everyone to connect with. Not every segment works as well as others. "The Rite of Spring" is an endurance test, to say the least and other sequences like "Toccata and Fugue" and "The Nutcracker" have their share of lulls. Personally, I appreciate this film much more as an adult than I did as a child, but there are moments where the program drags and almost becomes self-indulgent. One thing is certain, however: even when it's not exactly stimulating, Fantasia is still a work of art.
The two standout sequences for me perhaps speak volumes about my own tastes as they're the most whimsical pieces in the film: "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and "Dance of the Hours." Some film snobs may say that these are the two most popular sequences because they're the most childish and the least artsy. That's rubbish. "Dance of the Hours" may enthral smaller children more than, say, "Ave Maria," but adults can clearly see that this is about more than dancing hippos. It's a spoof of pretentious ballets that purport to be more than what they truly are. "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" may not seem as biting, but it's a triumph in staging and design. There's a reason Sorcerer Mickey has become a corporate symbol; his exploits are the most creative and inspiring the character has ever experienced and are likely to remain so.
As is often the case for art works considered ahead of their time, Walt Disney's dream project unfortunately failed to win over audiences. World War II didn't help, cutting off international markets at this time. While it was undoubtedly a major blow for him, Walt's concept of fusing music and image didn't fade away. It was brought back in the simpler, more modern approaches of Make Mine Music and Melody Time. Fantasia continuations were considered throughout the years as the project was always intended to be an ever-changing attraction. Those intentions finally came to fruition at the turn of the century (millennium) with ‘FANTASIA 2000.’
Headed by Walt Disney's nephew Roy E. Disney, ‘FANTASIA 2000’ sought to provide a new experience that emphasized varying musical and animation styles more directly. It more or less follows the same pattern started by the original, but this time with different celebrity hosts introducing each segment rather than one unifying commentator. Among these are comedian Steve Martin, conductor Itzhak Perlman, composer Quincy Jones, Bette Midler, James Earl Jones, magicians Penn and Teller, conductor James Levine, and Angela Lansbury.
There are eight segments in total, though one of them is "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," is recycled from the original. The new segments include Ludwig van Beethoven's "Symphony No. 5" using abstract butterflies, Ottorino Respighi's "Pines of Rome" with flying whales in the Arctic, George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" about intertwining New York city residents in the style of Al Hirschfeld, Hans Christian Andersen's story "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" set to Dmitri Shostakovich's "Piano Concerto No. 2, Allegro, Opus 102", Camille Saint-Saëns' "Carnival of the Animals, Finale" using an oddball flamingo and his yo-yo, Edward Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance, Marches No.1, 2, 3 and 4" starring Donald Duck as an assistant on Noah's Ark, and Igor Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite - 1919 Version" set against the death and rebirth of a forest.
Many critics of ‘FANTASIA 2000’ find it's not weighty enough to sit alongside the original ‘FANTASIA.’ Condemning this instalment as a poor man's concert feature is very unfair, as I think ‘FANTASIA 2000’ is a brilliant companion. The two films have different goals. The 1940 one is more experimental in nature. It staunchly sticks to the idea of making the music and images one inseparable experience. ‘FANTASIA 2000,’ on the other hand, is a little looser is its conjunction of aural and visual delights. It is also more concerned with entertaining its audience. One major thing in the newer film's favour is how vastly different its musical choices are. While the visual presentations of the original are distinct from one another, the classical compositions chosen don't seem terribly unique from one another to those who aren't versed in the musical arts. ‘FANTASIA 2000' choices are easier to distinguish and that gives each piece more of an identity.
Technology, of course, changed in the sixty-year gap between the movies and the animation reflects that. We see computer animation in "Symphony No. 5", hand-drawn animation in "Pomp and Circumstance", and everything in between with pieces like "Piano Concerto No. 2." Even the techniques within these differ. "Rhapsody in Blue" is traditionally animated but digitally painted whereas "Carnival of the Animals" is done with watercolours. The entire film gives a nice sampling of different styles and mediums to achieve the intended effect.
The two standout sequences from the newer film, "Piano Concerto No. 2" and "Rhapsody in Blue" both tell involving stories without betraying the purpose of the project. The Walt Disney Organisation always prided itself in the way they tell their tales and their interpretation of "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" feels distinctly them, a classic tale told in a timeless manner. "Rhapsody in Blue" predates films like Crash and Babel in how we see several independent storylines weaving in and out of each other. We feel for the characters of the piece and relate to how melancholic and humdrum their lives are, making the resolution of each arc all the more satisfying.
Excepting some restoration work done on the print to clean it up, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" remains identical in every way to its original incarnation. The filmmakers did not re-score the segment with a newly-recorded version of Paul Dukas' "L'apprenti Sorcier". We still hear the original, featuring the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski. For the other seven episodes, James Levine conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
No matter what you prefer, however, there's something for everyone in these two complementary animation films. One sets out to accomplish a lengthy, serious experiment while the other aims to please in a brisk, light-hearted manner. It's almost worth watching them back to back to get one well-rounded experience. Their mesmerising artwork and spirited orchestrations inspire and motivate the senses in a way only Walt Disney can achieve.
Blu-ray Video Quality – With black vertical pillar boxing either side of the image, the Blu-ray preserves of ‘FANTASIA’ is kept in its original Academy Aspect Ratio of about 1.33:1. Disney has yet to drop the ball when it comes to their animated canon on Blu-ray, and this film is yet another amazing restoration effort. Narrow aspect ratio aside, Fantasia just by its very nature demands to be a demonstration disc. There's a wildly varied palette of colours on display, and they all pop off the screen on a regular basis. The image is immaculate in its cleanliness and sharpness, allowing the viewer to see background textures and even cell shadows. The live action bits also impress; somehow they're scrubbed as clean as the animation without a waxy loss of detail. Other than some very minor colour banding in some of the orchestration spotlights, this restoration is perfect. Being transferred directly from the digital source, there's no excuse for ‘FANTASIA 2000’ to look anything less than flawless. Thankfully, it meets those expectations in the 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio. That ratio is a happy medium, presenting more visual information than either of its theatrical exhibitions but not quite the full open matte image. Both the live-action and animated segments are razor-sharp and burst with vivid colours. Some of the hues used in this film are even brighter than the original's, but there's never any noise or other digital defects. Once again, the hand-crafted work can be appreciated in full as we see everything from painterly brushstrokes to finely tuned outlines. This is a top-notch transfer.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – ‘FANTASIA’ has been given a new 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that's shocking in its clarity. Music is obviously the driving force of this feature, and it comes as a relief to hear so many different layers and elements to the orchestrations. Walt Disney originally released the film in what was called stereophonic sound, a precursor to modern day surround sound. That original mix is no longer in existence, but this new one does an excellent job of carrying on that idea, filling the entire field with wall-to-wall sound. The orchestrations are separated as they would be in a live orchestra, and the richness and clarity of the audio almost makes it sound as it's been re-recorded, which was curiously done back in 1982 by Irwin Kostal. This is not only the best the film has ever sounded, but it's the best track for any Golden Era film on the format. The ‘FATASIA 2000' 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is likewise stunning, though it's also less surprising given its age. Because the live-action bits often move the speaker around the screen via stylish windows, the audio follows them around to create a directional experience. The music is the important aspect, however, and that's been replicated beautifully. Every instrument comes in crystal clear and has a definite live feeling. It's not overblown or painfully loud, but natural and inviting. It's reference quality to be sure. Similar thoughts can be attributed to the included inferior DVD versions of both features. The pictures, of course, do not reveal some of the finer details that the HD 1080p counterparts do, but they're strong for the format. Gone are the speckles and hairs found on Fantasia's previous DVD, as are the compression artefacts from Fantasia 2000's original release. Audio for the latter is pretty similar, though the audio for the original is a leap in quality from the 60th Anniversary disc. It's comforting to know that even though they tout Blu-ray front and centre, Disney hasn't neglected their DVD transfers in the way other studios have.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras: The Special Features for this set are spread across the two discs. Some may notice that the making of features didn't find their way onto these discs. While that's annoying, they are available on the BD-Live feature included on the 'FANTASIA 2000' disc. You can watch both making of documentaries if you go there, but people with slow or no internet connections for their Blu-ray players will find this to be more of a nuisance. There's also no telling how long those features will actually be available. At least if they were on the disc you'd know they're staying around and that you own them. Sadly, going online is the only way you can revisit these features with this set.
Special Feature: ‘FANTASIA’ DisneyView Presentation [1080p] Viewers can watch ‘FANTASIA’ in its original aspect ratio 1.33:1 presentation or with optional DisneyView, a feature that fills the black bars on either side of the image with custom paintings by visual-effects artists and designer Harrison Ellenshaw.
Special Feature: FANTASIA: Disney Family Museum [1080p] [4:00] Walt Disney's daughter, Diane Disney Miller, offers us a brief glimpse of the Disney Family Museum that's located in San Francisco. They talk about how the museum was set up and what you can find there if you plan on going.
FANTASIA Audio Commentaries: There are three amazing and informative audio commentaries for 'FANTASIA.'
FANTASIA Audio Commentary: With this first particular audio commentary, we have Walt Disney historian Brian Sibley gives an informative, but seemingly scripted, commentary. Sibley goes in-depth on how Walt Disney came up with the idea of 'FANTASIA' and how he was going to create an animation film where people would be able to see sound. This is a commentary for all of those that want to know the ideas and thought that Walt put into 'FANTASIA.' For people interested in Disney history, Sibley's smooth commentary is a must listen.
FANTASIA Audio Commentary: With this second audio commentary is an amalgamation of sorts. Roy Disney offers an introduction. Animation historian John Canemaker hosts it. We also hear from Walt Disney himself as he gives notes and ideas about the different segments. Listening to Walt talk, he's so matter-of-fact about the animation, and makes it sounds so easy to create a movie as complex as this. As with the Brian Sibley commentary, fans of Walt Disney history will definitely want to listen to this. The recordings of Walt Disney that you hear played are wonderfully clear and intelligible.
FANTASIA Audio Commentary: With this third audio commentary is from the original DVD commentary and is a crowded affair with Roy E. Disney being joined by conductor James Levine, John Canemaker, and film restoration manager Scott MacQueen. Roy Disney gives introductions for all of the participants of the commentary and gives their connections to Walt Disney and why they were needed for the commentary. John Canemaker is a wonderful addition because he's able to delve into the animation and the techniques that were used. Levine does a spot on job about describing and talking about the music that was used in the animation film. Perhaps the most interesting bit of the commentary comes from Scott MacQueen who talks about the restoration process. Interesting titbits: where they had to re-dub much of the introduction scenes with Deems Taylor because the original recordings of his dialogue weren't kept. They had the original script so they had to hire a voice actor to go over the lines again. There is a wealth of information buried in this commentary. Yes, you'll have to listen to this one too.
FANTASIA: Interactive Art Gallery [1080p] Take your time here and scroll through all the stills from the animation film as the music plays. This interactive art gallery allows you to explore animation and art work from 'FANTASIA' and 'FANTASIA' 2000.'
FANTASIA: The Schultheis Notebook: A Disney Treasure [1080p] [14:00] This special feature is one of the most interesting on this Disney ‘Fantasia’ disc, I wish it were longer. It talks about a notebook found by the people at Disney that belonged to Herman Schuletheis, one of the animators that worked on the film. Herman Schuletheis' book describes, in detail the great lengths they had to go to and the rigs they had to invent to get the shots that they wanted. Think ' FANTASIA ' was just drawn on paper? Think again. This is a wonderful look at the intricate, inner-workings of what made ' FANTASIA' actually work as an animated feature.
FANTASIA 2000: Dalí and Disney: A Date with 'Destino'  [1080p] [82:00] This is an insightful documentary about the collaboration of Walt Disney and Salvador Dalí on the film 'Destino.' Roy Disney talks about how odd it was that these two guys wanted to get together to make something. "Walt with his fairies… Dalí with his nightmares." This is a thorough look for anyone who has wanted to see the special film 'Destino.' Contributors to this special feature are Dawn Ades, Montse Aguer, Michael Barrier, Baker Bloodworth, David Bossert, John Canemaker, John Culhane, Salvador Dalí (archive footage), Roy Edward Disney (archive footage), Walt Disney (archive footage), Neal Gabler, John Hench (archive footage), Bob Hope (archive footage), Leonard Maltin, Paula Sigman, Dave Smith, Lella Smith and Julie Taymor. Directed by Ted Nicolaou. Produced by Barbara Toennies. Screenplay by Ted Nicolaou.
FANTASIA 2000: 'Destino'  [1080p] [6:00] To a song of love lost and rediscovered, a woman sees and undergoes surreal transformations. Her lover's face melts off, she dons a dress from the shadow of a bell and becomes a dandelion, and ants crawl out of a hand and become Frenchmen riding bicycles. Not to mention the turtles with faces on their backs that collides to form a ballerina, or the bizarre baseball game. From the melting clocks and hourglass sand, to the figure rendered in strips, to the character covered in eyeballs, the style and themes of Salvador Dalí are clearly recognisable throughout. See the entire collaboration of Walt Disney and Salvador Dali in their short film 'Destino.' You just need to watch it to experience it and be totally amazed. Cast: Jennifer Esposito (Rebecca Drummond) (voice) and Dora Luz (Singing voice). Directed by Dominique Monfery. Produced by Baker Bloodworth, Baker Bloodworth and Roy Edward Disney. Screenplay by John Hench and Salvador Dalí. Music by Joel McNeely.
Musicana [1080p] [9:00] Here we have a look at the long development of a potential ‘FANTASIA’ sequel that never came to fruition in ‘Musicana.’ The idea that Walt Disney wanted ‘FANTASIA’ to be an ongoing feature that kept changing with different segments, but after a lacklustre box office that dream couldn't become a reality. 'Musicana' was the idea to make a continuation of ‘FANTASIA’ which was Walt Disney's vision.
FANTASIA 2000: Disney's Virtual Vault [480i] [304 minutes] This is where you can go to access the “making of features” from the previously released inferior DVD editions of ‘FANTASIA’ and ‘FANTASIA’ 2000.’ Just be ready to wait for video buffering and all that annoying stuff that comes along with internet special features. All of it can be found and viewed via this handy BD-Live portal, primed for fans and aimed at completest. In it, you'll find five hours of documentaries, featurettes and other making-of materials that are well worth pursuing.
Finally, ‘FANTASIA’ and ‘FANTASIA 2000’ may not seem like everyone's cup of tea at first, but both provide enough variety to ensure that you walk away having latched onto something. Each feature offers a different side to the same coin and are somehow stronger together than apart, each one making up for the other's shortcomings. Those with an affinity for animation and/or classical music will certainly find a wealth of art here. Despite the current popular notion of the Walt Disney brand name, the studio is capable of providing sophisticated and ground-breaking entertainment. One needs look no further than these two features to realise that. The Blu-ray discs present the films with outstanding picture and sound. The new supplements are well-made, but the value lies in the “Virtual Vault” contents. Had those features been easily accessible, this would be a near perfect release. Although the overall quality of Fantasia 2000 is considerably more variable than that of Fantasia, certain aspects of the experience are the same - namely, the ability to sit in a theatre and listen to great music while being presented with a choreographed visual accompaniment. In between the segments, we are forced to endure distracting introductions, given by Steve Martin, Penn & Teller, James Earl Jones, and others, that are intended to be light, amusing, and occasionally informative. The best thing about most of them, however, is that they are short. Now only time will tell whether a “FANTASIA” series will be developed in the pattern of Walt Disney's initial vision, or whether these two films will stand as lone representatives of a unique motion picture sub-genre. While the Original ‘FANTASIA’ has fantastic animation quality, ‘FANTASIA 2000’ has just that little bit better flow with more energetic sequences, a much more bearable running time and of course the very funny celebrity narrations. Also, I just like the individual segments of ‘FANTASIA 2000’ better. Both movies have contrasting styles, but ‘FANTASIA 2000’ is just clearly slightly superior in every way and as double-feature releases go, this one excels and fans of ‘FANTASIA’ amination film genre and especially its sequel ‘FANTASIA 2000’ will certainly get their money's worth. Very Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom