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Fantasia 1940 G

A groundbreaking Disney film featuring eight classical music pieces, accompanied by animation, to create a unique blend of sound and pictures.

Starring:
Leopold Stokowski, Deems Taylor
Runtime:
2 hours, 4 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Fantasy, Music, Kids & Family
Director James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, Ford Beebe Jr., Norman Ferguson, Jim Handley, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts, Paul Satterfield, Ben Sharpsteen
Starring Leopold Stokowski, Deems Taylor
Supporting actors Corey Burton, Walt Disney, James MacDonald, Julietta Novis, Paul J. Smith
Studio Walt Disney Pictures
MPAA rating G (General Audience)
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on October 31, 2003
Format: DVD
As a lifelong musician and artist, Fantasia has been one of my all time favorite movies since I first saw it in theaters as a child. My wife, knowing my great love for this movie, bought the DVD version for me as a birthday gift. When I put the DVD on, however, my excited anticipation quickly turned to depressed disappointment.
I immediately realized that the voice of the narrator, Deems Taylor, whose wonderful and soothing voice spans the entirety of the movie, had been overdubbed with someone else's voice! Deems Taylor was a widely known and respected music critic in his time. He had a beautiful, deep sonorous and expressive voice. The sound of his voice was an essential part of the aural and musical magic of this film. Yet, the new owner's of Disney saw fit to overdub his voice with that of some squawky and squeaky sounding unknown, thereby ruining the entire film.
I did some research to find out why, in the name of "preservation", Disney studios would destroy this film in the way that they have. The reason, supposedly, was because they found old footage (which was NOT in the version we all knew and loved as kids) which they wanted to insert - but the audio on that obscure footage had been damaged. They felt they had to redub those voice overs. Fine. But then, in the process, they re-dubbed the entire film, even the parts that had not been damaged!
I understand, for historical interest, that some people might be interested in seeing the extra, obscure footage which had been edited out long ago , but that extra footage easily could have been put on a special features disc, not in the actual movie that millions of fans have come to know and love. This was a horrible decision by a studio which increasingly seems to have lost all sense of artistic taste and common sense. What a sad, sad disappointment.
Soon, I'll be buying a DVD recorder and I hope to preserve the original VHS version I have in that way.
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Format: DVD
The quality and presentation of this restored version of FANTASIA is wonderful. Finally restored, unseen since the initial release, are the complete introductory sequences, including a chimes player's accident with his instrument, the orchestra applauding Mickey Mouse, and the orchestra shuffling out for the intermission. Even the original title card has been returned to its proper place, during the intermission. (Some of the narration was rerecorded due to original voice tracks being no longer available.)

But there is CONSIDERABLE CONTROVERSY over the continued censorship of the "Pastorale" sequence. Circa 1969, the seemingly racist shots of a black centaurette (similar to Our Gang's "Buckwheat") attending on the white centaurettes were cut from the film, resulting in a "jump" in the music. Allegedly, the 1980 release's newly recorded music soundtrack covered up the clumsy edit, so that the remaining choreography was in sync. Subsequent releases to video have used optical tricks to remove the appearance of black centaurs, so that the original music track scans properly.

In this "restored" version, these optical edits are still glaringly obvious. (E.g., an optical zoom to avoid the black centaurette shows you the film grain up close, in another shot, a green bush magically slides across the ground by itself!)

The film survives as a masterpiece of filmic art, and this presentation of a "politically correct, original version" (my description) is tempting. But Disney does this release, and all customers and fans, a disservice by inappropriately calling it a "restored" and "uncut" version, when in fact it is NOT the version that was seen in the 1940 road shows.

Let your buying conscience be your guide, but consider the significance of buying an "original, restored" version that is neither, and perpetuates revisionist cuts as if they never happened.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Don't get me wrong -- this film is fantastic, and by itself it rates 5 stars. But this DVD edition is not all its cracked up to be.
First, there's the editing in the Pastoral Symphony, as noted by other reviewers. This is nothing new -- that editing was originally done back in the 60s -- but it makes for some very grainy frames in an otherwise beautiful print.
Then there's the re-dubbing of Deems Taylor's parts. As I understand it, this was necessary because the original soundtrack was missing for parts of the extended interstitials. However, I can't believe that they couldn't find a better voice match for Taylor, given the wealth of voice talent in Hollywood these days. If you're used to the original, the difference is kind of jarring.
My biggest gripe, though, is the apparent re-mixing of the music. The original soundtrack was full-on surround sound (what Disney called Fantasound) that had the music literally surrounding the viewer, often sweeping about the room to follow movement on the screen. The 1990 theatrical and video releases contained this Fantasound mix, but the DVD seems re-mixed as a static symphony recording, with the rear channels carrying only reverb. The sound is a bit cleaner than the last go-round, but it's far less dramatic. And the differences are noticable even in plain stereo.
All of these things add up to considerably less than a faithful rendering of this film. The editing is understandable since racial stereotypes are unacceptable these days, but the rest is a shame, and hard to understand in view of Disney's usual attention to detail.
As I noted, the film itself is well worth seeing, and aside of the editing, it has never looked better. But the original laserdisc/VHS release is far more interesting.
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