📽️ Disney Time – Fantasia 2000

List Item:  Watch The Disney Animated Canon
Progress: 38/58Title: Fantasia 2000
Year: 1999

It was a weird, and mercifully brief, period in the late 1990s where everything would gain the suffix ‘2000’ in an attempt to make it sound modern or cutting edge. It became such a dumb cliche that South Park took it upon themselves to add ‘2000’ to a bunch of their episodes. I guess that with Fantasia 2000 it makes some sense as they needed a way to differentiate it from the original (and superior) Fantasia, but by doing so they also inadvertently made it sound like a more bargain basement version.

The set-up is pretty much the same – a bunch of shorts that are interpretations of classical pieces which all have their own brief introduction to set the scene. Unlike the original, the introductions are broadly made by celebrities such as Steve Martin and James Earl Jones. By having famous faces do this job, it really shows how the tone of this film is different and, broadly, how much Disney has changed their perspective from the original release.

Where Fantasia was more about musical appreciation, Fantasia 2000 feels like they’re trying too hard to make it entertaining for the entire family. This leads to some introductions really wrecking the tone of the film – the worst offender featuring conductor James Levine being constantly interrupted by Mickey Mouse as he’s trying to find Donald Duck. It just weighs the film down which was already having issues with segments that, on the whole, were not as good as the original and (for the most part) were trying to be humorous.

There were, however, two standout segments that I have watched again on YouTube in order to remember just how good they were. First there’s a very short excerpt from Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saëns – which features a yo-yo toting flamingo and a bunch of annoyed flamingos trying to take it from him. Then, there’s the spectacular finale set to Stravinsky’s The Firebird – something that would not have been out of place in the original and it such a breathtaking ode to the resilience and beauty of nature in the face of destruction.

Other segments are interesting, but they’re either too long (Rhapsody in Blue), repeated their elements to the point of losing their impact (Pines of Rome) or were a pale imitation of something from the original (Symphony No. 5). Don’t get me wrong, as a fan of the original Fantasia – this sequel is still worth seeing. It’s just that the original set a near impossible standard for any following film to reach… which is probably why it took so long for Disney to have the guile to put it in production.

When I got the box set, I noted how weird it was that they omitted two films for some bizarre esoteric canonical reason. Well, I’ll be watching the first omission next time around. It’s the not-that-well-known 2000 flick Dinosaur, which was Disney’s first foray into a fully CGI motion picture. I just wonder how well the graphics stand up compared to something more modern, like Toy Story 4.

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