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Fantasia / Fantasia 2000 (Four-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
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Walt Disney's animated musical masterpiece is an extravaganza of sight and sound-now brilliantly restored for the first time ever in high defi nition! Blu-ray technology fi nally allows you to experience Fantasia-and Fantasia 2000, the triumphant classic it inspired-the way Walt envisioned! Plus, for the first time ever on Blu-ray, experience the 2003 Academy Award®-nominated animated short Destino-the extraordinary collaboration between Walt Disney and legendary artist Salvador Dali!
Revealing new bonus features and commentary bring the Fantasia experience to life, allowing generations of moviegoers all over the world to enjoy this timeless classic like never before. See the music come to life, hear the pictures burst into song and experience the excitement that is Fantasia over and over again.
This multi-disc set comes laden with extras, accessible through needlessly fussy menus. The most interesting of the extras is the short documentary "The Schultheis Notebook." Herman Schultheis was an artist-engineer-cameraman who worked at the Walt Disney Studio in the early '40s. During his free time, he kept a meticulous notebook on the experimental processes used to create effects in Fantasia, from the whirling galaxies in "The Rite of Spring" to the spinning snowflakes in "The Waltz of the Flowers." An interactive display of the notebook can be seen in the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, and several animation historians (including this reviewer) discuss its significance. Fantasia 2000 offers Destino, the Walt Disney-Salvador Dali creation that took more than 50 years to complete, and an overproduced film about the making of it. The best of the supplemental pieces features artists Eric and Susan Goldberg and Al Hirschfeld discussing "Rhapsody in Blue," the film's most successful sequence. --Charles SolomonSee all Editorial Reviews
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The original 1940 animated classic features sequences set to music by Bach, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Mussorgsky, Schubert and Beethoven. The film opens with the now-famous 'Sorcerer's Apprentice' routine, in which Mickey Mouse conjures up a troublesome mop when he messes around with a magical wand. This movie still stand up today and brings back memories of a simpler time and artistry.
Fantasia 2000 is an ode to the original film, Fantasia. It starts withe original film's most famous sequence - the Mickey Mouse adventure 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' and seven other all-new animated interpretations of classical music. Among the best is a sequence that features the stories of 1930s New Yorkers accompanied by Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue', a tale of volcanic myth set against Stravinsky's 'Firebird Suite', a comical version of the Noah's Ark story and Elgar's 'Pomp and Circumstance'.
The two films feature the talents of Leopold Stokowski, Walt Disney, Steve Martin, Bette Midler, James Earl Jones, and James Levine. The documentaries included add to the magical and musical experience.
As it is, the inclusion of as much as possible of the Deems Taylor introductions helps this film immensely in my opinion. It fleshes the original film out and puts the pieces into a better context. It also doesn't hurt that "Meet the Soundtrack" is easily one of my favorite parts of the film, a light contrast piece to Rite of Spring or Night on Bald Mountain. So one can at least appreciate the work that went into recreating them as best they could ten years ago for the DVD set.
As an owner of the previous DVD set, I can say that in some ways, it's preferable to the new Blu-Ray. It's easier to get around in and, while the extras take a third disc, I prefer that all the extras are right there on the disc instead of "in the cloud" as is now so en vogue to say. However, there are a few extras on this disc that certainly make it worthy of being eyed for a double-dip. First and foremost is the completed short that Salvador Dali began working on at the Disney studios over 50 years ago, Destino. It looks tremendous. Looking at the finished product, it works, but it also looks like it might not have been a mistake for Walt to shelve the project in '46. Without decades to get used to Dali's imagery, it would seem even more strange and alien. Had it been produced then, it would have been even more of a museum piece. Let's just call it ahead of its time. There is also an accompanying feature-length documentary that easily could have cut a lot of its running time and still been informative. One piece that I actually would love to have expanded (or even included as a gallery of the book itself) is a documentary about the Schultheis Notebook: a diary of Fantasia's special effects production that contains amazing details about how the production was accomplished. It's not a stretch to say that Fantasia belongs to a very small list of the most technically advanced films ever made, like The Ten Commandments and Star Wars. Until this production diary was found (made by an employee who offered to sell it to the studio once production was complete and turned down... looks like the studio ended up getting the best of that bargain in the long run), many of the special effects were a mystery to those who came after the production, so radical and specific (and disposable) were they.
As for the films themselves, I never appreciated Fantasia as a child. It wasn't until I was an adult and was able to watch it purely as a piece of art that I wasn't bored to tears. Looking from an adult perspective, Fantasia has some spots that go on too long, some that are masterpieces and some that are still tough for me to get through. (Sorry, but that Nutcracker portion does me in every time.) But I can appreciate all of it from an artists perspective. The Rite of Spring may be scientifically inaccurate, but it's still spectacular. And it took some balls to produce in the late 30s. The Freddy Moore girls design for the centaurs (waist up, of course) is beautiful. Night on Bald Mountain is ultimately fantastic and scary however you look at it. Fantasia 2000 never dawdles, but in that way it has the opposite problems of its predecessor. With the exception of Rhapsody in Blue, most of the pieces feel too rushed, especially the Carnival of the Animals. It's more brilliantly funny than anything in the original film, but is so short that it feels empty. At a scant 74 minutes, you get the feeling they were afraid of stretching their legs, lest they overstay their welcome.
As for the technical aspects of the blu ray, the film has never looked (and most likely never will look) better. One of my rules for blu rays is that I will always double-dip on a Disney release because the HD visual presentation is spectacular and thus far I've yet to have a transfer let me down. While I don't have a surround sound system (my apartment is much too small), it sounded excellent to my ears.
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