First Theatrical Release: December 17, 1999
First Home Viewing Release: November 14, 2000
My Rating: 3/5 stars
Where I Found It: Netflix Instant Streaming
Bechdel Test Score: Exempt, due to the fact that there is no dialog by which to judge the third prong, and due to the fact that there are a lot of characters whose sex is ambiguous.
This is one of the few Disney movies that came out in my lifetime that I had never seen before this project. I think I might have gone if I lived near to an IMAX when it was released, but I didn’t. And although my research says it was released for general distribution 6 months later, I don’t remember it ever being at the “regular” theaters. At any rate, the first Fantasia was not a favorite of mine, and this one is pretty much more of the same.
While I appreciate that this film allowed the studio to pick up on Walt Disney’s initial “vision” of releasing new segments for Fantasia every few years, it does seem like a bit of a folly to recreate one of the studio’s most perplexing features. The film seems as if it was tailored to its IMAX release, with sweeping views of oceans and clouds and volcanoes, and I don’t think the small-screen (or even the “smaller” screen of regular theaters) can really do it justice. Aside from loyalty to Walt’s legacy, I also found myself wondering whether this version brought enough new to the table to justify its creation. The only difference between this and the first seems to be the liberal blending of computer animation into the traditionally animated scenes, and perhaps a little less racism/sexism.
I don’t have very many deep thoughts on this film, so instead I’m going to give my brief, not-very-deep thoughts on each individual segment.
Symphony No. 5
This one features a bunch of flying, brightly colored triangles. Nice if you’re into that sort of thing, I guess? Didn’t do anything for me.
Pines of Rome
It’s the whale segment! I swear, all I knew about Fantasia 2000 was that it had whales. And quite beautiful whales they are. Perhaps more impressive, they actually LOOK like whales, as opposed to these Disney whales, who decidedly do not:
Do not be fooled by [the Fantasia whales’] commonplace appearance, though! These are FLYING whales. What does Disney have against whales acting like whales? I think the only normal whale to make it into the Disney canon is this brief extra in The Little Mermaid opening credits. And maybe we just didn’t see him long enough to know he could fly!
Still, this was lovely and majestic and everything it was going for, and I think it would have been especially stunning on an IMAX screen.
Rhapsody in Blue
The cartoony, casual style of this segment gave me flashbacks to all those horrible package films I had to endure in the first quarter of this project. Also, I couldn’t figure out why all these folks who were down on their luck were fantasizing about ice skating. Is that what people daydreamed about in the 1930s?
Piano Concerto No. 2
This was one of my favorite segments, because in it Disney returns to what it does best: fairy tales. The segment depicts Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Steadfast Tin Soldier,” and the moment when he sees the ballerina with her leg hidden behind her and thinks she is also one-legged is so precious. Also, her other suitor, the Jack-in-the-Box, is sufficiently scary. I mean, really, didn’t we all believe, deep down, that our Jack-in-the-Box was a psychopath?
It’s sort of strange that the ballerina dances for ALL her movements rather than, you know, walking once in a while. But since she’s a toy and not a real ballerina, maybe she just doesn’t know any better.
Carnival of the Animals, Finale
This segment involved a bunch of flamingos playing with a yo-yo. It was sort of creepy and mostly just dumb. The art style reminded me of the birds in Alice in Wonderland. That observation is neutral.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Um, this one is a rerun. I was tempted to skip it. It seems like Disney wanted to beef up its 1 hr. 15 minute film and this is how it decided to do it. I would have rather the film finished 15 minutes earlier. I’m a busy lady!
Pomp and Circumstance
This one was another one of my faves, although I’ve already made clear that I’m not really a fan of Donald Duck. But I’ve always been drawn to the story of Noah’s Ark, and the animation of all the animals, including a brief glimpse of dragons and unicorns, was so incredibly gorgeous. It made me wish Disney had made a feature movie using the Noah’s Ark story. I was never totally clear on who Donald was supposed to be, though — was he Noah, or was the white-bearded dude at the beginning of the segment Noah? If white-beard was Noah, then is Donald one of Noah’s sons (who were also allowed on the ark?) Or is the white-bearded dude supposed to be God? If it’s God, he let Noah (Donald) off easy by not requiring him to actually BUILD the Ark. Also, although the romance between Donald and Daisy here is incredibly sweet, I find it a little hard to believe that they spent over a month on that boat without running into each other.
Firebird Suite – 1919 Version
I’ve wanted to see a ballet performance of the Firebird for a while, so I found myself distracted by the fact that this segment could in no way act as a stand-in for that experience. Also, knowing it was the last segment in the film, I sort of found myself checking out. That’s a pity, because it seemed to have some of the most beautiful animation out of all of them — which is probably why they saved it for last. Another reason they shouldn’t have included “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” — without it I might have still been mentally engaged at this point!
So, I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard ANYONE talk about seeing Fantasia 2000. If you’ve seen it, leave me a comment and let me know what you thought.