MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
For the first time ever on Blu-ray, Disney has released the original classic “Fantasia.” Taking a diversion from the standard storytelling animation, Walt Disney embarked on an experiment in which he put animation to music in a very free form. It wasn’t esoteric interpretation, but rather the creativity of the artist, and it became a classic. Almost half a century later, the Walt Disney Company updated the concept and delivered “Fantasia 2000,” a new imagining of classical music with state-of-the-art animation.
WHAT I LIKED
I love animation, and most of the films in the Disney Vault are brilliant pieces of work that need to be seen in the best visual presentation possible. Earlier VHS and DVD releases of “Fantasia” (and its sequel) are beautiful to watch, but these films are done an honor for release in high definition.
“Fantasia,” which was originally made with a 4:3 aspect ratio, is presented in optional DisneyView, which extends the picture with color frames to fill the full width of your HDTV. “Fantasia 2000” is presented 16:9. Both of these films look gorgeous, and when I showed them to my kids, they watched every frame with wide eyes.
There’s something to love about both films, even with the first being almost twice as long as its follow-up. I love the look and charm of “Fantasia.” It was really thinking out of the box for its time, and even though Walt Disney never got the chance to update it every few years, it will live on forever. This is a snapshot into filmmaking of the 50s, and it has the perfect blend of cute (with appearances by Mickey and Donald) and class (with the variety of music and non-narrative presentation).
“Fantasia 2000,” which considered lesser by some, is still a sight to behold. It kept the charm of the original with “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” short, and it also showed what was possible at the time with the relatively new CGI technology. Yet, it still has the charm of hand-drawn animation in various styles, from the retro jazz of the Harlem number to the golden glaze of Noah’s Ark.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
There really isn’t much to complain about with these films. Sure, if you’re looking for a long-form storytelling or the traditional Disney Princess film, you won’t find it here. However, these films themselves are works of art to be treasured for years to come.
Each film gets its own Blu-ray and DVD, totalling four discs in the set.
“Fantasia” special features include a spotlight on the Disney Family Museum, interactive art galleries, audio commentaries and “The Schultheis Notebook,” which looks at some of the early stages of the film.
“Fantasia 2000” includes audio commentaries and “Musicana,” which was Walt’s inspiration for a “Fantasia” sequel. There’s also a feature-length look at the relationship between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali, who were to work on “Destino,” a surrealistic short. Also presented on the disc, “Destino” was completed in 2003 and was nominated for an Oscar.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Anyone with a great love of animation.