Fantasia 2000 Review
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When Walt Disney first released his animated art film, Fantasia, he did so with a plan for its future. Fantasia would be an ever-changing musical experience—and each time you saw it, it would be just a little bit different. There would be some new animated musical numbers mixed in with some old favorites, and everything would be interchangeable. But Fantasia wasn’t as successful as Walt had hoped—and although he continued to plan new sequences (the ideas for which will exist in a notebook entitled “Future Fantasias”), Fantasia remained an unchanging classic—until the release of its sequel 60 years later.

Fantasia 2000 recaptures—and even improves upon—the musical magic of the original classic. Though it opens with another abstract animated sequence—with thousands of flying shapes set to Beethoven’s powerful “Symphony No. 5”—most of the sequences shy away from the abstract images and high art style of the original. This time, the animated sequences have stories to tell—and they feel more like short animated silent films, set to memorable musical arrangements. If “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” was your favorite number from the original Fantasia, you’ll be absolutely thrilled by the sequel—because most of Fantasia 2000 has that same whimsical, narrative style.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the film is the third number. Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” adds a touch of twentieth-century jazz to the usual all-classical formula. The cool, retro-style animation celebrates 1930s New York City—its people, its music, and its dreams. And it adds a little variety to the traditionally artsy Fantasia design.

From then on, it’s more of the same, fun-loving style. A number of brightly-colored flamingos dance with a yo-yo to the sprightly “Carnival of the Animals.” A toy soldier falls in love with a ballerina to Shostakovich’s “Piano Concerto No. 2.” And Donald Duck joins Noah on the ark to Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance.”

Then, as a final tribute to the original, Fantasia 2000 comes to a close with Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite,” a darker piece that tells a mythical story, presented in a more traditional animation style.

So although it still features a few traditional numbers, Fantasia 2000 is much more whimsical than its predecessor. While it may lack that stunning, high art feel of the original Fantasia, the playful, narrative style of Fantasia 2000 makes it much more easily digestible for mainstream audiences. It’s also more appropriate for kids. And, well, it’s just plain fun to watch. So if you found Fantasia a bit too artsy for your tastes, give Fantasia 2000 a try. It’s a fun-filled, fast-paced (and surprisingly short) musical exploration that mixes Disney’s light-hearted storytelling with traditional musical numbers—often with wildly entertaining results.

Blu-ray Review:
Disney’s Fantasia 2000 isn’t currently available on its own, but you can purchase it as a part of the new four-disc, two-movie Fantasia / Fantasia 2000 Blu-ray / DVD combo release.

Since Fantasia 2000 is such a short feature, this Blu-ray disc has plenty of room for lengthy special features—including a pair of audio commentaries. There’s also an interesting short feature about an unfinished concept called Musicana, a Fantasia-like musical feature that was developed by Mel Shaw (with some help from John Lasseter) in the ‘70s before it was shelved.

The disc’s most widely publicized extra, though, is Destino, the animated short that was developed by surrealist Salvador Dalí and Disney animator John Hench in the 1940s and finally finished in 2003. In addition to the Oscar-nominated short, the disc also includes Dalí and Disney: A Date with Destino. This 80-minute documentary offers biographies of both legendary artists, exploring their work, their friendship, their collaboration, and the restoration of the short.

Again, the special features included with Fantasia 2000 will be more interesting for grown-up fans—but if you’re fascinated by art (either the traditional kind or the animated kind), you won’t want to miss these enlightening extras.

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