Mickey in the sky with diamonds
Fantasia 2000
Review by Ross Anthony

"Tick Tick Tick" the composer taps the podium setting the bird-like theme into flight.

Similar to its predecessor, "Fantasia" of 1940, this version is more of a collection of musical shorts than a feature film. So, I'll review each short on its own.

In the words of Walt Disney (a cartoonist himself), "It is our intention to make a new version of 'Fantasia' every year. Its pattern is very flexible and fun to work with -- not really a concert, not a vaudeville or revue, but a grand mixture of comedy, fantasy, ballet, drama, impressionism, color, sound and epic fury."

For a variety of reasons, the profit deficiency of the 1940's "Fantasia" not the least of them, it's taken Disney sixty years to make good on Walt's hope.

Symphony No. 5
Triangles that flutter and fly becoming butterflies, birds, bats? Swarming in a cloud of black wings with sharp and ominous flaring red highlights.
Grade ................................. A-

Pines of Rome
Doves tease a couple of humpback whales that take to the air in reply. A baby whale attempts to ski off of the surface of the water, but ends up finding himself trapped in an iceberg. The "gaggle" of whales soaring far above the Earth is absolutely fascinating. If you could paint wonder --- this is what it would look like. My chin literally trembled with awe. Capturing the awesome feeling of one's first peer from the window of a plane into the gloriously clouded sky, this segment lets us relive those precious few dreams where we actually see ourselves arms out, levitating through thin air.
Grade ................................. A+++

Rhapsody in blue
Animated in an old cartoon style with European flavor, we follow the escapades of a host of depression era human characters including: a construction worker/jazz drummer, down and out bloke, goofy rich guy. Dominated by a grayish-blue color scheme, this segment stands out as stark and drab. Perhaps, this is intentional as Gershwin's music relishes the blues. Still, it feels out of place in a collection called "Fantasia." The rich man's two second spontaneous dance with a street monkey, is this segment's shining moment.
Grade ................................. B-

Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No.2
Based on the story "The Steadfast Tin Soldier," a one legged toy soldier comes to life in order to save a toy ballerina from an evil Jack in the box. The art incorporates computer animation. Nice story telling, great expression and fine musical timing. I loved the majestic horns ringing as the rigid soldier topples into the sewer system only to dodge the green teeth of red-eyed rats.
Grade ................................. A-

Carnival of Animals
"What would happen if you gave a yo-yo to a flamingo?" Again, great synthesis with the musical dynamics, but not very full of wonder and magic.
Grade ................................. B+

The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Old, but a classic. Textured with grain, this excerpt from the original "Fantasia" plays nicely on the Imax screen. You can also see portions of it at Disneyland projected on a shimmering wall of water during the simply fantastic "Fantasmic" show. Mickey uses magic to ease himself of daily chores, but ends up making a huge mess.
Grade ................................. A-

Pomp and Circumstance
Donald is Noah's right-hand duck as the animals march two by two. The awkward match of this popular graduation classic to biblical cartoonery is unflatteringly humorous. Fine for Saturday morning, sure ... but in a feature classic? Nope.
Grade ................................. B-

Firebird Suite-1919 Version
The intangible spring renewal is personified in a beautiful maiden whose vine entwined hair flows like a blanketing magic carpet, setting the darkest of winter scenes alive with lush grasses and flowers. A powerful Elk looks on. Strong climax and fitting end to the entire piece.
Grade ................................. A-

Each "Fantasia/2000" segment gets its own host, from Steve Martin to Quincy Jones. My question is ... why not Mariah Carrey, Ricky Martin, Jenifer Lopez, or even Jim Carrey? The closest hosting to any current pop icon is Pen and Teller -- but even they are on the fringes of "in." My point? "Fantasia/2000" takes time out of itself to preface each section with what seems to me would make great introductions for the younger generations into the classical world. But there are no Will Smiths to help make the transition. Along the same lines, only "classical" works are included (albeit some 20th century). Why not include Rock, Rap, or Jazz? Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson orchestrated an album full of his rock tunes -- a selection from that CD would have made for a richer mix while at the same time brought a new audience to symphonic music. Run DMC's Aerosmith cover "Walk this Way" which fused the rock and rap worlds, played by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra could fuse yet another musical world. In "Fantasia/20xx" I challenge Disney to lose the "matured" hosts and go for the icons of the younger crowd while opening up Walt's wonderful idea of "Fantasia" to a richer musical fusion. All types of audiences will benefit.

"Fantasia" was the first film ever recorded and released in stereophonic sound, "Fantasia/2000" is the first (near) feature-length (though not really a feature) originally released only at the giant screen Imax theaters at the turn of the millennium

  • Fantasia 2000. Copyright © 1999. Rated G.
  • Starring Mickey, Donald and a host of others.
  • Directed by Pixote Hunt, Hendel Butoy, Eric Goldberg, James Algar, Francis Glebas, Gaetan Brizzi and Paul Brizzi.
  • Conducted by James Levine. Performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
  • Produced by Donald W. Ernst at Walt Disney Pictures.


Copyright © 1999. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:10:49 PDT