Fantasia 2000

Fantasia 2000 (2000)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Extras: Audio Commentaries, Animated Shorts, Featurette, Showcase Program

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again now: Some movies simply must be experienced on DVD. ’Fantasia 2000’ is such a movie. Of course, seeing the film at home can’t duplicate the IMAX experience, for which the film was first made, but compared to many other animated films, ’Fantasia 2000’ is a visual and audio feast. The film is a follow-up to the 1940 Walt Disney classic, ’Fantasia.’ ’Fantasia 2000’ continues the tradition of combining classical music pieces with cutting-edge animation. Unlike ’Fantasia’ (which runs over two hours), ’Fantasia 2000’ clocks in at just under 75 minutes, so the film doesn’t wear out its welcome or ever become boring. The film is made up of eight seperate vignettes, each coming complete with an introduction.

As with any anthology film, ’Fantasia 2000’ is a tough movie to review simply because everyone is going to come away from it liking one segment better than the rest. Fortunately, the film offers a wide range of animation styles and surprisingly, musical styles. My favorite segment features the famous ’graduation song’ ’Pomp and Circumstance’, which is accompanied by a story of Donald Duck as the assistant of Noah. Donald must help herd all of the animals onto the ark, while trying to keep track of girlfriend, Daisy. The piece has a visual style similar to ’The Lion King’ and is both funny and moving. Speaking of funny, I absolutely loved ’Carnival of the Animals, Finale’, which features a very sassy flamingo playing with a yo-yo. This is classic animation. It’s short, incredibly humorous, and tells a great story with no words. I enjoyed the drama of the story ’The Steadfast Tin Soldier’ which is set to the music of ’Piano Concerto No. 2, Allegro, Opus 102’ by Shosakovich. This piece is dark, exciting, and moving, bringing the audience a nice blend of pathos and action. The celebrity introductions to the segments are also nicely done, with Steve Martin and James Earl Jones, both stealing the show with their funny intros.

As the movie is packed with music and animation, the DVD is packed with impressive features. The movie itself is presented in an anamorphic widescreen and has been letterboxed at 1.85:1. The THX-certified image is pristine, showing no grain, noise or artifacting. Of coures, the most important aspect of the image are the colors, and they simply leap off of the screen in ’Fantasia 2000.’ (Now I wish that I’d pulled myself away from the DVD player and seen the film in the IMAX theater!) The DVD image presents us with sizzling reds and frosty blues, which never bleed together or look saturated. The various animation styles present us with serveral different color palettes, but they all end up looking equally beautiful.

The ’Fantasia 2000’ DVD offers a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, as well as a DTS 5.1 track. Both sound equally grand, offering a wide dynamic range which allows the music to fill the speakers and envelope the viewer. For a good example of the dynamic surround sound on the title, check out the beginning of Chapter 13 as the sound of Mickey Mouse searching for Donald Duck moves about the room.

The supplemental features on the ’Fantasia 2000’ DVD will tell you almost everything that you’ve ever wanted to know about the film. The DVD opens with a three-and-a-half minute introduction by Roy Disney, Walt’s nephew and the Chairman of Disney Animation. This intro gives us a brief history of Disney animation and gives an abbreviated origin of ’Fantasia 2000.’ For the in-depth scoop on the film, we have the 50-minute feature, ’The Making of Fantasia’, which is actually called ’The Fantasia Legacy: Fantasia Continued’ as its on-screen title. After a lengthy introduction which gives the history of both ’Fantasia’ and ’Fantasia 2000’, the film is broken down into segments and each piece of ’Fantasia 2000’ is examined, using clips from the film, as well as interviews with the musicians and animators. There are two audio commentaries on the DVD. The first one features Roy Disney, conductor James Levine, and producer Don Ernst. This is a fun and entertaining commentary, as the trio talks about how the film came about and gives many details about each of the individual pieces. As with the film, the second commentary is divided into sections, with the director and art director from each segment getting a chance to discuss their work. This commentary is also fun, and doesn’t get overly technical. There are two animated shorts on the DVD, ’Melody’ and ’Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom’ (which is letterboxed at 2.35:1). Both of these shorts deal with music education and both are very dated. The final special feature is the mind-boggling ’Showcase Program.’ This five-and-a-half minute feature encapsulates ’Fantasia 2000’ and shows us the highlights. We just watched the movie, why do we need the highlights? Other than that head-scratcher, the ’Fantasia 2000’ DVD is a very solid package, and if you want even more, check out Disney’s incredible 3-disc ’Fantasia Anthology.’