Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 — the magical, animated musical masterpiece and the contemporary classic inspired by it — debut in highly anticipated Blu-ray High Definition and DVD 2-Movie Collection Special Editions on November 30. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment is opening the Disney vault to be able to present these two films that broke the boundaries of imagination in the highest quality possible. The Fantasia and Fantasia 2000: 2-Movie Collection Special Edition will be available in a 4-disc Blu-ray Combo Pack and a 2-Disc DVD for a very limited time only. The Blu-ray transformation of Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 will reveal the magic, music and majesty of both films as never before experienced, with stateof-the-art picture restoration of the original Fantasia and pristine 7.1 Digital Theater System Hi-Def Surround Sound. The Blu-ray combo pack is a tremendous value featuring, in addition to the two films in two different formats, a wealth of bonus features.
The dreams and visions of Walt Disney come to life in Fantasia, which blends music and film magic into an exhilarating movie-going experience. Unforgettable images are brought to life by some of the world’s best music, and highlighted by the comedy of Mickey Mouse as a troublemaking sorcerer’s apprentice, along with the beauty of winged fairies and cascading snowflakes, the majesty of Noah’s ark and even plump hippos performing ballet in tutus. Motivated by his uncle’s foresight, Roy Disney continued the magic with Fantasia 2000 which begins where its predecessor left off. There are seven completely new segments, and viewers watch a bustling Depression-era metropolis in the style of Al Hirschfeld’s famous cartoons, a flock of flamingos with slapstick yo-yo talents, an ark full of animals gathered by Donald Duck as Noah’s first mate, and musical life breathed into a family of flying humpback whales.
Though not one of Disney’s fabled and storied classics at first, Fantasia went on to become a kind of niche classic with animation fans and adults growing to appreciate it more as time went on. Although it had all the makings of a classic (especially with Mickey Mouse bringing one of the most memorable shorts ever with the sorcerer’s apprentice bit) it was simply a very dark and moody stitched together piece of animation that was entertaining to those of a proper age and downright frightening to those of a younger generation. I recall only watching this film a few times when I was younger simply because it often gave me nightmares—the visuals are not only dark but the subject matter is similarly so.
Once you’re able to appreciate and enjoy the story for what it is however, the film really just becomes about the music and animation. Which, truthfully speaking, is what it was always about. The way it was originally presented up on its initial release was something closer to a play, complete with reserved seating, required dress attire and even an intermission. While that’s hardly how we watch it now, you have to admire how Walt Disney originally wanted this film to be presented. He was clearly very proud of it and when it wasn’t received how he had hoped it was a bit of a crushing blow…but we all know how the story of Disney turned out, so it’s not like Fantasia ended the studio.
It was quite the opposite, really. And Disney once again revisited the franchise with Fantasia 2000, which for those disappointed by the originals sometimes sporadic pacing and slow and dark demeanor were happily surprised by the new films more structured and cohesive pacing. Or at least most were—honestly these films are still kind of the odd-ones-out when it comes to Disney animation so it’s hard to really find the right audience for it. But once you do it’s often a group that just absolutely loves it because they can appreciate both the animation and the musical aspect of the films—and once you can do that, these films really are just a whole lot more entertaining and fantastic to enjoy.
While the two films are different aspect ratios and over half a century apart in production, they’re both Highly Recommended outings as they show off just how “magical” Disney films can be when they aren’t merely focusing on princesses and merchandising. Not that there’s anything wrong with those films either—but the Fantasia films are more just about the pure enjoyment of music and animation together and that in of itself is something to appreciate in of itself.
Disney unleashes Fantasia on Blu-ray in the second greatest combo-pack of all: Blu-ray + DVD (oddly they didn’t include digital copies…but then again this isn’t something that’s really best experienced on the go or on a tiny 4” screen either, so perhaps it’s for the best). All three in one box is a definite treat, plus you have a nice reflective foil/embossed slipcover on the outside to help pop off the shelves. Regardless if you have a Blu-ray player right now, definitely pick up this release over the others—it doesn’t even matter at this point since it comes with a normal DVD copy as well, so once you do upgrade you’ll be able to drop your jaw at the Blu-ray clarity without having to fork over more money. Inside the set is the usual assortment of inserts and whatnot, but nothing overly exciting unless you really like looking at advertisements.
Video arrives in the form of an AVC encoded 1080p transfer that…well, there’s no real way around it. This video combined with the audio (a DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix) make for quite a nice demo disc (especially Fantasia 2000 since it’s in widescreen). Animation has always been the pinnacle of showing off what the digital disc format is capable of, but this is just truly stunning. Not only is the animation itself flawless and so highly detailed, but so is the transfer with just rampant amounts of detail, clarity and a color palette that will cause your eyes to tear up from the sheer beauty of it. Without a doubt this is a true representation of just how beautiful a film that’s near seventy years old can look, as well as a superb modern represention of decade old animation. I could go on and on about the image depth and clarity or remark about how solid the sound field is in the 7.1 mix with the myriad of musical compositions enveloping the room but instead I’ll just leave it with a simple definition and say it’s quite an experience on Blu-ray.
Extras are plentiful and include:
• New Audio Commentary with Disney historian Brian Sibley
• Disney Family Museum (running time: approx. 5 minutes) – Walt’s daughter Diane Disney-Miller takes viewers on a tour of the new Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, California featuring a very large exhibit on Fantasia and most importantly, the Schultheis notebook with long lost Fantasia production notes found in more recent years in the walls of a convent.
• Disney View – This viewing mode maximizes the Blu-ray viewing experience with a 16 x 9 aspect ratio. Original artwork created by a Disney artist, in a style that complements the beauty of the film.
• The Shultheis Notebook: A Disney Treasure (running time: approx. 14 minutes) –An in depth look at the recently discovered Schultheis Notebook. The detailed log was created by Herman Schultheis, an effects man on Fantasia, and intricately breaks down the film from a technical view. Many of the special effects used in Fantasia were a mystery to modern day animators until this notebook was recovered.
• Interactive Art Gallery and Screensavers – Viewers can explore the artwork of Fantasia as never before, in HD resolution with unique Blu-ray interactivity and programming.
• Audio Commentaries from Fantasia Legacy Collection
o With executive producer Roy E. Disney, conductor James Levine, animation historian John Canemaker, and Scott McQueen, manager of film restoration.
o Audio commentary with interviews and story note recreations by Walt Disney, hosted by John Canemaker.
• Musicana – Walt’s Inspiration for a Sequel (running time: approx. 10 minutes) – This documentary reveals rarely-seen art created for Musicana, a late 1970’s project intended as a Fantasia sequel with a focus on exploring other cultures via their greatest musical compositions. Viewers are offered a look at the origins of pieces that were started by Walt, such as “The Emperor and the Nightingale” which was then taken over by a very young John Lasseter. Ultimately, Musicana was stopped to begin production on “Mickey’s Christmas Carol,” but the memories of this piece still live on with the animators who conceived it.
• Dali & Disney: A Date With Destino (running time: 82 minutes) – This feature length documentary explores the collaborative relationship between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali, revealing how and
why the Destino short came to fruition under the lead of Roy E. Disney in 2003 so many years after its inception in 1946.
• Destino (running time: approx. 7 minutes) – The legacy of Walt Disney and Salvador Dali lives on in this highly anticipated short film.
• Disney’s Virtual Vault — BD-Live Feature
o Original DVD Bonus Features from Legacy Collection
• Audio Commentaries from Fantasia Legacy Collection (total running time: 84 minutes)
o With executive producer Roy E. Disney, conductor James Levine, and producer Don Ernst.
o Audio commentary with the directors and art directors for each segment.
It should be noted that while not everything from the previous big Fantasia box set is included there is additional bout of stuff through BD-Live to view as well so I think the majority of the “Legacy Collection” is included here, just a few things may be missing. I don’t own it so I can’t be 100% certain. But either way you’re going to be picking up the new Blu-ray release for the new A/V transfers—any new extras (and there are a few) are just icing as far as I’m concerned. Overall this is a Highly Recommended release and a real Must Have for diehard fans.
Fantasia/Fantasia 2000 2-Movie Collection is now available on Blu-ray.