Monday, September 05, 2011

Disn-A-Thon: Fantasia 2000 (1999)

In this update of Disney's masterpiece film mixture of animation and music, new interpretations of great works of music are presented. It begins with an abstract battle of light and darkness set to the music of Beethoveen's Fifth Symphony. Then we see the adventures of a Humpback Whale calf and his pod set to "The Pines of Rome." Next is the humourous story of several lives in 1930's New York City, scored with "Rhapsody in Blue." Following is a musical telling of the fairy tale, "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" set to Dmitri Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2. Then a goofy Flamingo causes havoc in his flock with his yo-yo to the tune of the finale of "Carnival of the Animals." This is followed by the classic sequence from the original film, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" starring Mickey Mouse and followed by "Pomp and Circumstance" starring Donald Duck as a harried assistant to Noah on his Ark... [imdb]
Months ago, I watched the first disc of two(2) on the 4-disc blu-ray set of Fantasia and Fantasia 2000... (my review of which can be found here) ... Now I've watched every single bit of the second disc, containing Fantasia 2000 and a whole slew of various special features.  This isn't so much of a sequel to Fantasia, but a continuation.  One thing mentioned in virtually every commentary and featurette on both of these discs is that Fantasia was originally meant to be a continuing movie.

Every year, re-release the movie with a few segments dropped and a few new ones added.  The initial box-office failure of the movie caused Disney to drop this idea, although over the years, Walt and many of his crew would start work on bits only to either abandon them or place them elsewhere.  Some of the "unused" segments made it into films like Melody Time or released as simple short segments alone.  Others were vaulted and appear on this set in fully animated or storyboarded forms.

And still others were completed and formed into the feature film Fantasia 2000.  Only one segment remained from the original film, of course being The Sorcerer's Apprentice.  Personally, I wouldn't have minded one bit if they had left that off as well... but oh well.

I really enjoy this new take on Fantasia, possibly more than the original in some places.  One thing that sticks out to me is the seamless integration of computer-generated animation with traditional hand-drawn animation.  In fact, it's so seamless that parts I could have sworn were done with computers were in fact done entirely by hand.

There's commentary and a segment about a lost attempt at rehashing Fantasia, called Musicana... but the real stand-out here is Destino, the collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali.  A rather long featurette about the history of the short... and its fate in the Disney morgue... and subsequent revival... followed by the newly finished short film itself.  It's actually very good, and I almost feel it's hidden by being packaged on disc 2 of the Fantasia set.  This is something that needs to be emphasized by itself for what it is.

The next best stand-out feature on this disc is the Disney's Virtual Vault, which is basically every special feature from the previous DVD releases of both Fantasia and Fantasia 2000.  Hours upon hours of documentaries and alternate takes and storyboard sequences...   In fact, I started writing this blogue entry before they even finished.  I hit "Play All" hours ago, and it just now finished.  Phew.

Well, if you're a fan of Fanatasia in any form, and you own a blu-ray player with an internet connection (for the Virtual Vault), I'd definitely suggest getting this 4-disc set (2 blu-ray discs and 2 DVD's).  This is something I will be holding on to for quite some time.