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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Fantasy > Classical Music > Literature > Art > Experimental > Fantasia/Fantasia 2000 (Disney Blu-ray Set)

Fantasia/Fantasia 2000 (Disney Blu-ray Set)

 

Picture: A-     Sound: A     Extras: B     Films: A/B+

 

 

What is there to say about an undeniable classic?  When Walt Disney imagined and created Fantasia in 1940 as his third feature length film, I wonder if he knew the impact he was about to make on the world.  Today animated features either completely cater to children or slickly incorporate comedic elements that are over children’s heads; with perhaps the exception of Pixar creations.   Gone are the days (seemingly) of beautiful creations like Snow White and even newer features like The Lion King; studios are lost and are in creative limbo as they debate whether classic animation is even profitable anymore.  It is all about flash animation and computers today, rarely do audiences get to experience the artistry and beauty that features like Fantasia delivered over 70 years ago.

 

Fantasia is a work of art; plain and simple.  You could take any moment in the film, frame it, and hang it on the wall; and that is not even considering the films beautiful music.  In all, Fantasia features eight animated segments, each with a brief live action introduction from host Deems Taylor.  The animated experience is heightened by the use of classical music that frames the every moment with the utmost precision; which is especially important since the film features no dialogue (outside of the introductions) or sound effects.  All of the music was performed by the amazing Philadelphia Orchestra and the animation used in the film forced Disney to create new filming techniques that were never used before.  Fantasia was not meant to be just another fairy tale, but rather an experience for the masses unlike any other.  By today’s media obsessed, A.D.D. audiences’ standards, Fantasia wouldn’t have people flocking to the theaters to look at moving art and classical music; and even by 1940’s standards the film was a flop.  Fantasia put Disney in financial troubles and it took multiple edits (from the 2 hour, 20 minutes run time) and multiple releases for the film to earn back its costs; not to mention gain an audience.  We can all look at Fantasia as a piece of art, because it is, but most Disney fans would not cite it as their all time favorite.  The fact of the matter is the film is and was very avant-garde and never promoted itself as commercial venture.  Disney intended for Fantasia to be a growing, evolving piece of art that was a venue for animators to experiment with over time.

 

It may have taken 60 years, but finally in 2000 Disney Studios went ahead and investigated updating and adding to Walt’s legacy with Fantasia 2000.  The film, though the creators had the best intentions, did not live up to or hold true to the original.  Fantasia 2000 is a more commercial film that noticeably did not take the risks that the original had.  Fantasia had thrown caution to the wind, while Fantasia 2000 went through multiple screenings and promotions to draw in a modern generation.  Fantasia 2000 originally was meant to contain several of Fantasia’s original eight segments, but in the end only kept The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  Fantasia thought outside the box and was not concerned with political correctness; whereas 2000 promoted itself as adding onto the original and very commercial.  Fantasia 2000 was intended to be a film “for all generations,” when the original never concerned itself with anything of the sort.

 

I deeply enjoy both films, but Fantasia is most definitely better than 2000.  Its avant-garde style is admirable and stands a piece of art to this day.

 

Though this double film Blu-ray set is not called a “diamond collection” release for Disney; both the audio and video look amazing.  Both films look amazing, even if they were filmed 60 years apart.  Fantasia is kept in its original 1.33 X 1 ratio but has been fully restored for this 1080p digital High Definition presentation.  The colors are vivid and the blacks are bold; it is as if I am seeing a different film as the reds, blues, yellows and greens all pop as they hit the screen.  The blacks do a great job of framing.  Sure there are imperfections here and there, so to this being hand drawn/colored animation; but like a painting from a master artist, the small imperfections make the art even better.  There are few actual issues with the presentation itself and it is jaw dropping to watch a 70 year old film display so pristinely.  Fantasia 2000 (even at only 10 years old) presents just the same as Fantasia (both good and bad), with only small imperfections here and there but overall the 1.78 X 1 presentation is great.  The CG animation is a bit dated (by today’s standards) and unlike the original, it shows the limitations the artists were working with.  Overall, however, the film is bright, crisp and clean.  The audio on both films is a newly restored 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (MA) lossless sound that showcases the films like they have never been heard before.  I was scared when I heard this was NOT a diamond release, but in the end the sound was perfection.  The speakers are ALIVE for these films as the entire speaker range is utilized to bring these films to life.  The listener can hear every instrument from horn to bass drum, they are all there in an all new amazing way as never heard before.  If you want to have a demo film set for your speakers, Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 are it as the directionality, range, and crispness are all there.

 

The extras on this wonderful set include the following:

 

Fantasia

Disney Family Museum

Audio Commentaries

The Schuletheis Notebook: Disney Treasure

An interesting feature that discusses a book found at Disney studios that belonged to an artist named Schuletheis that goes into detail how Fantasia was made and that it was no easy task.

Interactive Art Gallery

 

Fantasia 2000

Audio Commentaries

Dali and Disney: A Date with Destino

An amazing documentary of two masters (Disney and Salvador Dali) working together to make a piece of art unlike any other

Destino - The short Dali/Disney film

Disney’s Virtual Vault (online)

 

A wonderful set that every person in this world needs to see….simply amazing.

 

 

-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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