Tag Archives: Fantasia

ūüďĹÔłŹ 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-Sa√ęns – 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.

ūüďĹÔłŹ Disney Time – Fantasia

List Item:  Watch The Disney Animated Canon
Progress: 3/57Title: Fantasia
Year: 1940

After mentioning this film plenty of times in posts on various entries on the¬†1001 Classical Works¬†list, it’s finally time to talk about¬†Fantasia.¬†I find it hard to imagine how much pressure was on this film to be successful after¬†Pinocchio¬†(that had been released just 9 months earlier in February 1940) had failed to break even. Then to have the worst happen… not only does Fantasia¬†pretty much bomb in the box office despite some critical acclaim, but it takes over two decades to break even.

I know that this failure was partly due to the Second World War cutting off international markets, but it feels like the ticket-buying public just weren’t ready for an animated film that does interpretive short pieces on classical music. Then again, can you imagine Dreamworks or Illumination turning a big profit on such a risk if it was their big summer release? Exactly.

These might be words that I might be forced to eat at during a later film, but¬†Fantasia¬†really is the Disney Animated Studios at their most creative. In these two hours and seven segments we see all shades of Disney.¬†Night on Bald Mountain¬†and the dinosaur fight in¬†The Rite of Spring¬†are incredibly dark,¬†Dance of the Hours¬†shows Disney’s puckish side and then there’s the very experimental opener put to¬†Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.

I wish I could say that watching¬†Fantasia¬†at a young age (and re-watching the VHS plenty of times) gave me an interest in classical music that lasted. It didn’t. What it did, however, was act as a door-wedge to ensure that I would be open to, and stay open to, it in the future. Just weird that the catalyst to burst that door off it’s hinges and keep me permanently interested would be drawings from Japan.

Fantasia¬†was such a statement of intent from Disney to be experimental that it would have been so cool to see them pull off all of their ideas. If they’d worked out this could have been a roadshow with interchangeable segments and contain experiments in 3D and the use of smell in the cinema. Who knows, if this film hadn’t bombed the way it did (reviews comparing this to Nazism wouldn’t have helped) just imagine how much further Disney could have taken this concept.

As it stands,¬†Fantasia¬†is a major highlight in the Disney canon and falls within my Top 10 Disney movies – however, we aren’t done with the classics yet. Next film chronologically is¬†Dumbo,¬†so I need to get ready to write through my tears.