I dimly remember seeing "Fantasia" in theatres as a child. Looking on Wikipedia, I see it was re-released when I was ten years old, so that must've been when I saw it. It doesn't seem that long ago, actually, and seeing it again now it felt just as fresh as it did back when I was a wee little lad.
The original "Fantasia" dates back to 1940, and it's an amazing piece of art. Each of the segments in the film is very well done, though the best in my opinion is the mix of "A Night on Bald Mountain" and "Ave Maria", a song so lovely it almost makes me want to forgive religion for its many sins. Almost. The animation is incredible in all the sequences and the sound, oh, the sound! Everything one can expect from such a film. I'll also confess to getting a mighty chuckle when the narrator mentions that "The Nutcracker" isn't performed much anymore. Ah, such a different time.
"Fantasia 2000" is also a great film, but flawed on several levels. First, it's only 74 minutes. If you remove the really pointless celebrity cameos (and they are quite pointless. Who thought Bette Middler talking about music would be a draw to kids?) and the repeat of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" from the first movie, you've only got about an hour of new content. Second, while that content is generally good, none of it really stands out, except the "Rhapsody in Blue" and "Firebird" sequences. Lastly, there's the aforementioned celebrity cameos. But despite that, it's still a good movie and worth seeing.
As for the discs, the movies look and sound just spectacular! There's really nothing wrong with the transfers, which are crisp, clean and delightful! You also get a raft of extra features, plus DVD versions of the films, though strangely no digital download versions.
This is two great films at a great price. Disney could've easily decided to release them separately at a high price. I'm glad they didn't. It's a great value!
Not disappointed at all! Finally, I can say that I've seen the best available version of one of my favorite Disney animated films. The hi-def transfer and restoration is nothing short of spectacular and Fantasia has never looked nor sounded so beautiful! While some may complain about the censoring of the Sunflower character, I wasn't at all bothered by this since I grew up without having ever seen that sequence anyway. This is a superb Blu-ray/DVD!
This multi-disc set comes laden with extras, accessible through needlessly fussy menus. The most interesting of the extras is the short documentary "The Schultheis Notebook." Herman Schultheis was an artist-engineer-cameraman who worked at the Walt Disney Studio in the early '40s. During his free time, he kept a meticulous notebook on the experimental processes used to create effects in Fantasia, from the whirling galaxies in "The Rite of Spring" to the spinning snowflakes in "The Waltz of the Flowers." An interactive display of the notebook can be seen in the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, and several animation historians (including this reviewer) discuss its significance. Fantasia 2000 offers Destino, the Walt Disney-Salvador Dali creation that took more than 50 years to complete, and an overproduced film about the making of it. The best of the supplemental pieces features artists Eric and Susan Goldberg and Al Hirschfeld discussing "Rhapsody in Blue," the film's most successful sequence.--Charles Solomon