Disney Review with the Unshaved Mouse #38: Fantasia 2000

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

Unshaved Mouse?

Unshaved Mouse?

Yes? Who are you?

Yes? Who are you?

I'm Court Appointed Attorney Antarctica. I'm to represent you at your trial.

I’m Court Appointed Attorney Antarctica. I’m to represent you at your trial.

Give it to me straight. What are my chances?

Give it to me straight. What are my chances?

Don't worry about it. I actually think we've got a very strong case.

Don’t worry about it. I actually think we’ve got a very strong case.

Really?

Really?

Sure. See, Comrade Crow may have taken over but it's still your blog. And the only way he can change the name of the blog is if he can prove you've failed in your duty as a Disney reviewer.

Sure. See, Comrade Crow may have taken over but it’s still your blog. And the only way he can change the name of the blog is if he can prove you’ve failed in your duty as a Disney reviewer.

Wow! That's great! He'll never be able to prove that!

Wow! That’s great! He’ll never be able to prove that!

Just relax. I'll have you out of here before my icecaps melt.

Just relax. I’ll have you out of here before my icecaps melt.

This is a lawyer!

This is a lawyer!

All rise for the Honorable Judge Claude Frollo.

All rise for the Honourable Judge Claude Frollo!

Has the prosecution prepared a  statement?

Has the prosecution prepared a statement?

Indeed, your honour. Comrades! For too long we have languished under the yoke of this detestable rodent!

Indeed, your honour. Comrades! For too long we have languished under the yoke of this detestable rodent!

UP YOURS CROW!

UP YOURS CROW!

He claims to be a reviewer of Disney movies, and yet not one week ago he devoted an entire post to non-Disney animated films!

He claims to be a reviewer of Disney movies, and yet not one week ago he devoted an entire post to non-Disney animated films!

You honour, my client has repeatedly re-affirmed his loyalty to the Disney canon. If this is the best the prosecution can do I feel sorry for them.

Your honour, my client has repeatedly proven his loyalty to the Disney canon. If this is the best the prosecution can do I feel sorry for them.

His views on Disney movies have frequently been contrarian, laughable, or just plain idiotic!

His views on Disney movies have frequently been contrarian, laughable, or just plain idiotic!

... Swanpride?


Swanpride?

Your honour, who here DOESN'T hate Aristocats?

Objection, your honour, who here DOESN’T hate Aristocats?

Sustained.

Sustained.

Very well, I shall prove the Unshaved Mouse is unfit to review Disney movies. Mouse, tell the court which you prefer Fantasia...or Fantasia 2000!?

Very well, I shall prove the Unshaved Mouse is unfit to review Disney movies. Mouse, tell the court which do you prefer; Fantasia…or Fantasia 2000!?

Oh. Well, on balance I'd say I probably prefer Fantasia 2000.

Oh. Well, on balance I’d say I probably prefer Fantasia 2000.

...

Your Honour, I cannot in good conscience defend my client. I urge you to find him guilty.

Your Honour, I cannot in good conscience defend my client. I urge you to find him guilty.

Wait what?!

Wait what?!

I recommend death by fire ants. Kill this sick freak!

I recommend death by fire ants. Kill this sick freak!

Where did you get your law degree?!

Where did you get your law degree?!

WHERE DID YOU GET YOUR SOUL!?

WHERE DID YOU GET YOUR SOUL!?

Okay, yes. It's not a popular opinion but let me explain why. And then I will accept the courts judgment. Agreed.

Okay, yes. It’s not a popular opinion but let me explain why. And then I will accept the court’s judgment. Agreed?

The court acedes.

The court accedes.

Very well.

Very well.

NO! KILL HIM NOW!

NO! KILL HIM NOW!

I just came to this blog because I was told there were Disney reviews here and I have no fucking idea what all this bullshit is.

I just came to this blog because I was told there were Disney reviews here and I have no fucking idea what all this bullshit is.

Okay, yes. It's not a popular opinion but let me explain why. And then I will accept the courts judgment. Agreed.

New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White. It’s right up there at the top.

***

Production on Fantasia 2000 officially began  in 1990 but to be honest, this movie had been in production more or less since 1940 when the first Fantasia was released. Disney cared passionately about Fantasia and had always intended for the movie to be re-released at regular intervals with new sequences alternating with old favourites. And despite the absolutely abysmal box office returns (Sarcastic Map of Wartime Europe can fill you in on the whys and wherefores) the idea never really died, with various artists trying their hand at new animation sequences set to music. From these we got some of the lesser known “quasi-sequels” like Make Mine Music and Melody Time. But it was only in the nineties that the studio finally got up the resolve to make the next installment in the Fantasia series. I know you were probably looking at that start date and thinking “this thing took ten years to make?” and that’s a little misleading. Fantasia 2000 was animated in fits and starts, in between work on the other animated features. And if it sounds like they were maybe dragging their heels on this one that’s probably true. I think Disney knew that, much like the original, Fantasia 2000 would involve taking a bath. Fantasia is simply not that commercial a concept. But they made it anyway, despite knowing that it would probably end up losing money, so more power to them.

Alright, the movie begins just diving straight into the first sequence based on Symphony No. 5 in C minor-I. Allegro con brio by Beethoven, probably better known by its real name: DUN DUN DUN DUUUUUUN!  This is 2000’s equivalent of Toccata and Fuge in D Minor, the weird abstract one that opens the movie. It shows a battle between brightly coloured butterflies and black bats rendered in a modernist, abstract style. Like the original, there are sequences in 2000 that I love, and ones that leave me cold, but what gives 2000 the slight edge for me over the 1940 movie is that it’s willing to make concessions to narrative. I mentioned back in the original Fantasia review that it was hard for me to remain invested sometimes without some kind of plot. Parts of the original movie for me were like looking at a screen saver with better animation and music. But even in Symphony No. 5 in DUN DUN DUN DUUUUUUN! which is by far the most abstract of the eight sequences, there is a semblance of a plot to keep me watching the visuals. As for the visuals themselves…well the animation is excellent throughout the film, and probably much more consistent in quality than the original. That’s just one of the benefits of modern animation techniques, bigger budgets and larger and better integrated animation teams. The downside is that the movie makes heavy use of CGI. Now, it’s very good CGI for the period, don’t get me wrong. But the trouble with CGI is that while good hand-drawn animation remains timeless, good CGI often seems like bad CGI ten or twenty years down the line. This sequence is mostly good, although it does look a little plasticky at times. Other sequences aren’t so lucky, as we’ll soon see.

The first sequence over, we now see the next major difference between this movie and the original. The first Fantasia was of course MC’d by composer and music critic Deems Taylor.

Hello, ladies.

Hello, ladies.

But Disney obviously felt that times had changed and they needed someone a bit less uptight. Someone zany. Someone hip! In short, a wild and crazy guy.

"I haven't made a funny movie since Bowfinger? Well EXCUUUUUUUUSE ME!"

“I haven’t made a funny movie since Bowfinger? Well EXCUUUUUUUUSE ME!”

 Aw…fuck it. You know what? I can’t rip on Steve Martin. Too many good memories. The Jerk, Man with Two Brains, Dead Men Don’t Wear PlaidDirty Rotten Scoundrels, my God! That movie is one of the great underrated comedies. Go in peace, Steve Martin. I wish you well.

Steve gives some spiel, explains the background to the movie and then hands off to violinist Itzhak Perlman who introduces the next sequence Pines of Rome by Respighi, reimagined as a story of whales who’ve gained the ability to fly because…a super tanker full of Red Bull ran aground or something, I dunno. Okay, so this was actually the first sequence to go into production and the first to be completed, in 1995. And it shows, having probably the worst CGI of any of the sequences. On its own it’s not too bad I suppose but the animators made the mistake of animating the eyes of the CGI whales with traditional animation. And it is distracting as fuck.

Do you remember, Eddie?! When I killed your brother!?

“Do you remember, Eddie?! When I killed your brother!?”

I’m pretty indifferent to this one, I gotta say. The music gels pretty well with the visuals and the final shot of thousands of whales ascending to heaven is absolutely gorgeous but the out-dated CGI really hampers things. See, this is why you stick with traditional animation Disney! It never goes out of style.

We now come to what is probably my favourite sequence of either movie, Rhapsody in Blue. Yes, I prefer this to Night on Bald Mountain. 

Your Honour, we have heard enough. You have everything you need right there!

Your Honour, we have heard enough. You have everything you need right there!

Look, I’ve said it before; Classical music just ain’t my thing. Sorry. But I love me some George Gershwin and I adore the art stylings of cartoonist Al Hirschfeld. This sequence for me is where the art style and the music mesh better than anywhere else. They’re both breezy, beautiful, effortless, deeply cool and inextricably linked to New York city. We follow various New Yorkers as they go about their day saddled with their own personal problems. There’s the construction worker who wants to be a jazz musician, an unemployed schlub looking for work, a little girl who misses her parents and a hen-pecked husband who just wants to be free of his overbearing wife so he can play with a monkey.

Monkey

"We've got the monkeys!" Let's see the monkeys!"

“We’ve got the monkeys!” Let’s see the monkeys!”

Their paths cross and each ends the sequence with their problem resolved. Except for the hen-pecked husband who only really gets a temporary reprieve because his wife got hooked on a crane and can’t get down. Unless the movie is implying that she died up there. Which is…dark.

To this day, the construction workers swear they can hear her voice on the wind; "Let me down you bastards...let me down you bastards..."

To this day, the construction workers swear they can hear her voice on the wind; “Let me down you bastards…let me down you bastards…”

Anyway, it’s a total, perfect triumph.

The next sequence is introduced by…

Oh No! Bette Midler!

Oh No! Bette Midler!

Bette gives some background on some of the sequences that never made the cut, which is catnip to an animation nerd like me before introducing The Steadfast Tin Soldier set to Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major-I. Allegro by Dmitri Shostakovich (how did they come up with such catchy names?). This sequence holds the distinction of being Disney’s first wholly computer generated animation and features a cast of living toys wait just a damn minute here…

Oh my God! Disney, you whores!

Oh my God! Disney, you whores!

Real original guys. Well anyway, the story follows the original Hans Christian Andersen story pretty faithfully with a one-legged tin soldier falling in love with a beautiful ballerina doll. Unfortunately, she’s being harassed by a creepy-ass Jack-in-the-Box (he said as if there was any other kind). The soldier tries to protect her and gets thrown out of the bedroom window and swept into the sewer where he’s menaced by some pissed off rats.

JUSTICE FOR LARRY!

“JUSTICE FOR LARRY!”

Eventually he gets swallowed by a fish that just happens to get caught by a fisherman and which then just happens to get bought by the cook in the house where he lives. He falls out of the fishes mouth and gets picked up by his owner and gets put back in his box right where he was at the start of the cartoon. And if I was the Jack in the Box, I’d be pretty freaked out by now.

"Are...are you a wizard?"

“Are…are you a wizard?”

Anyway, the Jack and the soldier fight, and instead of like in the original story where the Tin soldier is thrown into the fire and melts (Andersen you emo bitch) here it’s the Jack that gets thrown into the fire and the Tin Soldier and the Ballerina live happily ever after. I’m not too keen on this piece. The music is a good fit, but the animation style tries to mimic traditional animation with CGI and it just ends up looking kinda cheap and plasticky. And please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not a traditional animation snob.

Must I remind the witness that he is under oath?

Must I remind the witness that he is under oath?

Okay, I am a MASSIVE traditional animation snob but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate CGI when it’s done well. But if you want the look of traditional animation, pick up a fucking brush. This is just cheating.

The next sequence opens with  James Earl Jones watching Genie animator Eric Goldberg drawing. Jones tells us that “These drawing boards  have been the birthplace of some of the most beloved animal characters of all time.”

"One day, the sun will set on my time watching these drawing boards and rise with you as their new king."

“One day, the sun will set on my time watching these drawing boards and rise with you as their new king.”

Jones, in a voice better suited to announcing the second coming of the Lord, says that the next segment was created to ponder one of the great mysteries of the universe; What would happen if you gave a yoyo to a bunch of flamingos?

The answer is AWESOMENESS.

The Carnival of the Animals, Finale by Camille Saint-Saëns provides the soundtrack for this very funny, fast-paced and (clocking in at less than two minutes) very brief comic set piece about a flamingo who wants to play with his yoyo and his struggles against The Man (who in this case is six flamingos).

ATTICA! ATTICA! ATTICA!

ATTICA! ATTICA! ATTICA!

It’s a hilarious short with some terrific facial expressions and it really synchs up terrifically with the music.

Penn and Teller introduce the next sequence, the The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas. This is the only sequence to be carried over from the original Fantasia (Dance of the Hours was also going to be included but was cut for time). Penn says that Mickey “taught us everything we know”.

Did he teach you that people only like him when he doesn't talk? Okay, so he taught ONE of you that.

Did he teach you that people only like him when he doesn’t talk? Okay, so he taught ONE of you that.

I already covered The Sorcerer’s Apprentice in the original review so let’s move on. The sequence ends with Mickey congratulating original Fantasia composer Leopold Stokowski and then CROSSING BETWEEN THE REALMS OF THE DEAD AND THE LIVING to talk to 2000 composer James Levine.

That shadowy figure watching in the distance has been dead since 1977 and that is the creepiest fucking thing I have ever seen.

That shadowy figure watching in the distance has been dead since 1977 and that is the creepiest fucking thing I have ever seen.

Mickey tells Levine to stall for time while they find the star of the show, Donald, who’s still in the shower (how do you shower if you’re covered in waterproof feathers?). Levine explains that the next piece is Pomp and Circumstance – Marches 1, 2, 3 and 4 by Edward Elgar which retells the story of Noah’s ark with Donald Duck.

If you can overlook the fact that this music will have you instinctively wondering when you’re getting your damn diploma, this is another very strong sequence. The story begins with all the animals gathering at Noah’s ark. Noah, as well as having invented wine, also apparently invented outsourcing, and he tasks Donald Duck with the job of actually getting the animals onto the ark. Daisy kisses him goodbye and he gets to work convincing the various elephants, rhinos, lions, tigers, kangaroos…

...ducks...

…ducks…

scanners4

As the floodwaters rise the animals climb aboard the ark but Daisy and Donald pass each other by and neither realises that the other is on the ark. Both are heartbroken because they think that the other has drowned (how do you drown when you naturally float?) but when the ark runs aground on Mount Ararat they’re reunited. I love this one, really imaginative use of the music, nicely animated and really funny. There’s just so many great sight gags stuffed into those few minutes (I especially love the dragon, unicorn and griffin laughing hysterically at all the other animals boarding the ark). Great stuff.

The final segment is introduced by Angela Lansbury and…holy shit, do you think the director of this movie was tempted to say “Fuck Fantasia, let’s just do the best episode of Murder She Wrote, EVER”? It’d be like, there’s a scream and Steve Martin runs in yelling that Bette Midler has been found murdered in the orchestral pit. The police arrive and arrest James Levine because they have evidence that Midler was blackmailing him. But Angela doesn’t buy it because Levine was with her the whole time and anyway, the killer was obviously LEFT HANDED. James Earl Jones knows the pathologist (let’s just say she’s an old acquaintance) and he’s able to get her a copy of the autopsy. “James, you old Casanova” says Angela, but stops smiling when she reads the time of death: Midler was killed before the show even started! But that’s crazy! Martin exclaims, we saw her introduce The Steadfast Tin Soldier! Did we though? Or was it simply someone who was able to disguise themselves so perfectly as Bette Midler that we were all fooled, while their accomplice hit the real body in the orchestral pit. Accomplice? Why yes, whoever pulled this off doubtless had help. An assistant. A partner. It’s classic misdirection, the kind you’d expect from an expert in stage magic.

But that would mean...OF COURSE!

But that would mean…OF COURSE!

Which is my own unique way of saying that I don’t much care for the final segment Firebird Suite – 1919 Version by Igor Stravinsky. It’s certainly beautiful, as it depicts the spirit of spring bringing the forest to life. The problem is, this is the movie’s big capper, it’s climax. As such, it’s going to be compared with the climactic sequence of the original, Night on Bald Mountain. Now, there is no way anything that the creators of Fantasia 2000 could come up with would compete with that. Night on Bald Mountain is just untouchable in its sheer power. And that’s fine. But really, they should have tried to make a cartoon that was as different from Bald Mountain as possible and instead…

fan2000tasia10250

Chernabog_15

Yeah, so instead of avoiding the problem they ran straight at it. It’s like “Oh, you thought Chernabog was awesome! Wait till you see the Firebird! He makes Chernabog look like Bartok!”

Nope.

Nope.

There ya go.

There ya go.

I call this Spinosaurous Syndrome. In Jurassic Park 3, the filmakers introduced a new dinosaur, the Spinosaurous that was supposed to be even bigger and more dangerous than the T-Rex.  But of course, audiences didn’t go along with this for two reasons. 1) The T-Rex was already an iconic presence in popular consciousness even before the first movie and nobody had even heard of a Spinosaurous and 2) IT’S A MUTHAFUCKIN’ T-REX!!!!!!!

So yeah, the Fire Bird tries to equal Night on Bald Mountain and it fails. End of story.

And you're still trying to tell us this piece of shit is better than the original Fantasia?

And you’re still trying to tell us this piece of shit is better than the original Fantasia?

Better? I honestly have no clue. The original was a beautiful, audacious, flawed labour of love. It has the strengths and weaknesses of Disney movies of the Tar and Sugar era.  Fantasia 2000 is a movie made during the Disney Renaissance (even if it was released afterwards) and it has the strengths and weaknesses of that particular period of Disney history. Now, regular readers of this blog have probably figured out that I think the Renaissance was the most sustained period of quality in the history of the canon, even more so than when Walt himself was alive. But that success was built on the hard work and innovation of the animators that had gone before. If there had been no Bambi, would there have been a Lion King?  Probably not. Does that mean that Bambi is a better movie?  I don’t think so, because Lion King built on its strengths and didn’t repeat its mistakes. All I know is, if I had to choose seven of the  fourteen sequences, old and new, to preserve for all eternity it would be three from the original (Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Rite of Spring and Night on Bald Mountain) and four from the sequel (Rhapsody in Blue, The Carnival of the Animals, Pomp and Circumstance and Symphony No. 5).  So for me, it’s Fantasia 2000 by a hair. I will accept the court’s judgement.

Very well. The defendant is found unworthy of being a reviewer of Disney movies and shall be burnt at the stake before he can further enflame our lusts. Henceforth this blog shall be named ComradeCrow.wordpress.com!

Very well. The defendant is found unworthy of being a reviewer of Disney movies and shall be burnt at the stake before he can further enflame our lusts. Henceforth this blog shall be named ComradeCrow.wordpress.com!

AT LAST!

AT LAST!

Stop everything! Don't I get a say?

Stop everything! Don’t I get a say?

Who said that!

Who said that?!

You can call me James Q. Shut The Fuck Up. The third.

You can call me James Q. Shut The Fuck Up. The third.

Walt Disney! Do you mean to tell us that you are happy to let this...animal, continue to desecrate your work with his uninformed opinions?

Walt Disney! Do you mean to tell us that you are happy to let this…animal, continue to desecrate your work with his uninformed opinions?

Happy? Of course I'm not happy! He's a dunce! A putz! An ignoramus!

Happy? Of course I’m not happy! He’s a dunce! A putz! An ignoramus!

I...I thought we were friends?

I…I thought we were friends?

But I'll tell you what he's not. A filthy communist. And the day I let my movies be reviewed by a red is the day I lose my heat vision.

But I’ll tell you what he’s not: A filthy communist. And the day I let my movies be reviewed by a red is the day I lose my heat vision.

DIE COMMIE!!!

DIE COMMIE!!!

Awk! I'll get you Mouse! You haven't heard the last of Comrade Crow!

Awk! I’ll get you Mouse! You haven’t heard the last of Comrade Crow!

Sorry Crow. You may have had the fanatical zeal of a true believer and the support of the working class. But I have a half insane animator with heat vision. Wow, you know Walt, it’s funny. Fantasia 2000 works because it’s a fusion of the old and the new, and in the same way you and I were able to defeat Crow by working together as…

Wrong. You did jack shit. I'm awesome and Fantasia 2000 is a pile of crap.

Wrong. You did jack shit. I’m awesome and Fantasia 2000 is a pile of crap.

Well. We’ll agree to disagree.

No we won't.

No we won’t.

But I…

HEAT VISION!!!

HEAT VISION!!!

.....the fuck was that?

…..the fuck was that?

Scoring
Animation: 16
Comparing the animation to the original is really tough. The first Fantasia had wildly uneven animation, veering from some of the very best of the Tar and Sugar era to some sequences that were relatively mediocre. This movie is more polished and consistent, but also relies heavily on CGI that’s become quite dated. So on the whole, I’m marking it slightly less.
Leads: 14
Donald Duck is better than Mickey Mouse. Fact.
Villain: 12
The firebird is a lamer version of Chernabog. Also fact.
Supporting Characters: 14
This was really the original’s greatest weakness and it’s the area where 2000 most improves on its predecessor.
Music: 20
Again, with classic pieces performed by one of the greatest orchestras in the world, it’s hard to argue for anything but a perfect score

FINAL SCORE: 76%

NEXT TIME: Join me as we take a weary, despairing look at Disney’s first foray into feature length computer animation. Dinosaur is next.

NEXT UPDATE:  17 October 2013

74 comments

  1. (looks around) Mouse?

    Mouse?

    Mouse!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?

    I will get them for this mouse, if its the last thing I do.

  2. Great Paint skills.
    Also, thank you for the twenty minutes of joy. I watched ‘DUN DUN DUN DUUUUN’, ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ and ‘Carnival of the Animals’ and they were brilliant.

      1. I like the precision of the red lines. Very post-modern. Very Piet Mondrian.
        I was so invested in ‘Rhapsody’ I wanted it to be longer. And the end of ‘Carnival’ made me snort out loud.

  3. Loved the court set-up, one of your best scenes ever!

    I actually don’t hate “The Aristocats”; I actually quite like it! Don’t hurt me.

    And I’m with you and love “Fantasia 2000” more than “Fantasia”. Actually, I love it WAYYYY more than “Fantasia”, because as many of you know, “Fantasia” is my LEAST favorite film in the entire Disney Canon. That’s right, I actually like “Chicken Little” a LOT more than “Fantasia”!

    I just found “Fantasia” super-boring, long, and drawn-out! I mean, I liked “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” segment and maybe “Night on Bald Mountain”, but that’s really it. I’d watch any of the package films in the Disney Canon before I re-watch “Fantasia”.

    Oh, and “Rhapsody in Blue” is my favorite segment of this film as well.

    P.S. Did you know that Walt Disney actually had to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee, the committee that sought out alleged communists? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lflk5e-wcAg

    1. You are not alone…I like “The Aristocats” too (I see it mostly as a great movie for little kids, though).

      Fun story: Allegedly during the filming of 2000 leagues under the sea a couple of people thought that they could get one of the writers fired by telling Walt Disney that he was a communist. His reaction: “I’m glad to know that. It’s a relief that he’s a Communist. I thought he was an alcoholic.”

  4. I think you may have another nemesis in the making: I just posted this review on IMDb, and a user by the name of StarskyandChinaHutch responded this way:

    “Are you the unfunny, overly negative douchebag in question? Or just some hanger-on fanboy with no actual opinion of your own? There should be some rules against spamming unimportant site links in the first place…”

    Geez, what spit in his/her bean curd?

  5. Well, I’ll agree to disagree with you, Mouse! Fantasia-Prime wins for me personally because I like more of the animated segments and it doesn’t try to cram in half a dozen celebrities unnecessarily. (Also, Rhapsody in Blue left me cold because I just don’t dig jazz, the Noah’s ark sequence was visually fun but a terribly choice of music because it was too damn hard to try to overcome the graduation association of Pomp and Circumstance, and I actually liked the Firebird sequence.)

    Anyhoo. I’m guessing you’re aware of it already, since you know of Nostalgia Critic and Nostalgia Chick, but Paw (Paul Dugan) did a review of the Fantasias duo.

  6. Don’t remember much about this movie so I can’t comment on it.

    I can, however, comment on Steve Martin, my all-time favorite comedian. He is awesome. And yes, Dirty Rotten Soundrels is a HUGELY underrated film. I mean, come on, Steve Martin AND Michael Caine? That’s just plain awesome

  7. I honestly like both Fantasias the same. I agree, Rhapsody and Blue is probably my favorite short from either. I just love the jazz music and the unique animation (although my brother, who’s a bigger music nerd than me, says it’s not a very good arrangement. Oh well, his loss)
    But WHAT!? You don’t like Firdbird?! But the music is so beautiful it makes me cry! And it’s not just like Night on Bald Mountain. Bald Mountain is Chernabog coming out for the night, raising some havoc, and then the saints come and pray him away. Firebird is really more about the forest spirit. She comes around for spring, like she always does, spreading rebirth with her elk boyfriend, then the volcano erupts, and she thinks everything is over. But she overcomes the adversity, rises from the ashes, and comes back better than ever. I always found it very uplifting.
    And Donald’s sequence! I’m a huge Donald Duck fan, so I don’t let the graduation march bother me (I actually thought it was quite clever of them to take the song and turn its meaning completely on its head) and just enjoy.
    On a mostly unrelated note, what do you think of Ducktales, Mr. Mouse?

    1. I think it is nice that they picked the graduation march, because there is so much more to it than just this little piece they play for the graduation. Plus, it is kind of funny when all the animals march on exactly the segment they always use. It’s like an involuntary commentary about those kinds of ceremonies.

  8. I just recently discovered your blog, and really liked reading your take on this movie! You’re not alone, I much prefer Fantasia 2000 to the original. Although Fantasia 1940 is a classic film that was certainly ground-breaking, taught us new ways to enjoy classical music, yadda yadda yadda…well…some people can’t get the “graduation march” baggage of P&S? I find it harder and harder to get past Fantasia’s mild racism (Nutcracker Suite & Pastoral Symphony), sexism (Pastoral), Deems Taylor monologuing, and overall dreary tone. I think when people lionize Fantasia as a film (as opposed to a bold experiment/Walt’s visionary achievement), they tend to think of Mickey, Chernobog, and MAYBE Dance of the Hours but sort of shrug off or ignore the movie’s weaker elements. I still like Fantasia, though, especially Rite of Spring. Because let’s face it, NATURE is the real villain of that movie, not Chernobog. Chernobog didn’t starve a bunch of dinosaurs to death and then bury their remains with earthquakes and a worldwide inundation…yeah, that part kinda freaked me out as a child.

    Anyway…yes, I ADORE the Rhapsody in Blue/Al Hirschfeld homage. Simply brilliant, and probably my favorite segment. I do think that Firebird is one of the stronger segments, and I don’t think that you necessarily NEED the Firebird to carry the segment as Chernie 2.0, because the real star here is the Sprite, who is stunningly gorgeous. Fun Fact: this segment was developed and directed by the Brizzi brothers, my personal favorite Disney (now ex-Disney) Animators Who Never Got Enough Damn Work, Dammit. To their credit are storyboarding, direction, and design work for Hunchback and Tarzan, as well as a DuckTales movie from the early ’90s that no one remembers yet had WAAAAAY better animation and visuals than you’d reasonably expect from a movie based on a TV cartoon.

    Keep up the good work!

  9. You have entered in the dark Post-Renaissance era, good luck.

    It has been years since I watched Fantasia but I do remember liking it. I can roast Steve Martin for you in this movie; he is awful, treacherous, and sometimes needs to shut up and let the damn thing to on smoothly without a painful joke.

    Anyways, I like the Donald sequence (he is tons better than the Gary Stu Mickey), the Nature girl segment, the whales,……..actually, I like all of them. They are all a bit unique. I think the only mistake are the celeb cameos, they really do make things awkward.

    About Dinosaur…………., good luck times 20.

      1. I changed it cause I got attacked on another blog for a bunch of stupid reasons and I wanted to distance myself from that blog, so I changed it. I am also very specific with the info I let out about in the Internet, so that was a part of it.

    1. I think that most of the Post-Renaissance era is not really bad, it just got overshadowed by Pixar and various franchises which were popular during that time. It only gets really bad when Disney starts dabbling in CGI (until Tangled came along, naturally).

      Dinosaur though….urg! It is easily my last favourite Disney movie, period!

      1. Some were decent, but there were more than a handful of bad ones too (Dinosaur, Atlantis, Brother Bear is debatable, Home on the Range, and Chicken Little). I don’t consider Tangled to be in the Post Renaissance.

      2. Well, if it works…thankfully they do more than that. But somehow that fairy tale movies speak to the audience.

    2. I think Dinosaur is the only Disney movie where I enjoyed the theme park ride based on the movie a lot more than the movie itself.

      And given how long it takes to actually get on a Disney World ride for so little eventual payoff, that’s saying something.

  10. lol…I really hope that this was an exaggeration and I didn’t leave THAT bad of an impression.

    Love this review…and you know what? I agree with you on nearly every point (surprise!!!!). Most reviewers rave about the damned whales and the final segment and complain about the flamingo and pomp and circumstances, but my favourite pieces are exactly the same as yours, for exactly the same reasons. And yes, I adore Rhapsody in blue…the unusual animation blending in with the music is wonderful and it is too bad that they didn’t do more experimenting of this kind.

    I nevertheless prefer Fantasia, for two reasons.
    1. I absolutely HATE the Tin Soldier segment. It totally misses what the story was about. In it, the ballerina is made out of paper and the tin soldier only loves her from afar. When he dies, she is also blown into the fire and dissolves to nothing, while he is melted to a heart made of tin. It is such a powerful picture and symbolic…Disney did so much better with the match girl, and I really wish that this segment had made it into the movie instead.

    2. The moderation. The original Fantasia took the audience serious and created an atmosphere similar to visiting a concert. So when the segments suddenly become more funny and dancing hippos turn up it is way more effective, because the overall tone is more settled. But Fantasia 2000 with all the unfunny jokes in the moderation just screws up the tone (and it looks like the non-animated sequences are mostly padding). Which is too bad, because I think it would have been at least as good as Fantasia otherwise.

    But nevertheless, I’m glad they made this movie, and it is a worthy sequel in the end.

    1. Yeah, I admit on laughing at the part when he mentioned you. I agree with you in everything you said about both Fantasias, and you know how rare it is for us to get along. I miss you on Fanpop.

      1. Again: I’m still there…I just posted another article (it was high time to tackle Oliver and Company). I just stick to the Disney Club instead of the Disney Princess Club until I have seen the movie. It is not my fault that some people at the DP Club are posting spoilers left and right with no regard to the people who would like to see the movie without knowing too much about it.

      2. Yeah, the Frozen spoilers are less now, but it is ALL they talk about and they are making assumptions about liking and hating the characters when it has not even been released yet. I miss having smart conversations with others on the club that is not only about Favourite Princesses and Best hair. Mongoose an Allegro returned though.

      3. It’s just a few months….and I already have some article in mind I can post when I’m back. I especially intend to do one about the character designs.

  11. Ah, there you are mouse. I was worried you had gotten caught in someone’s trap. \

    May I interject that while I am a big music fan, and enjoy classical music, I have never liked Fantasia or Fantasia 2000. I did like some of the others like Make Mine Music, and I love listening to the entire segment of Pecos Bill with Roy rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers. To me it was just pure poetry and everything meshed together so well. The Fantasia fiasco though…

    Your honor if it pleases the court, I move for both of these movies to be stricken from the can…. Hey let go… Your honor…………………………………………………………..

  12. Way to go, Mouse! I guess Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 are like the Rescuers movies, you’re only allowed to like one. Well, I like all of them. I’m more familiar with Fantasia 2000, mostly because the original Fantasia was one of the few Disney classics we never had on home video when I was a kid.

    But I recently discovered the only proper way to watch Fantasia: with a live orchestra, of course! During the Helsinki Festival this year, there was a concert where the city orchestra played some segments from both movies (plus the never actually completed Swan of Tuonela) and you could watch them on one of three screens in the concert hall. The sync wasn’t perfect, of course, but classical music is always at best when played live. All the nuances and dynamics are much greater and make a huge impact. The concert totally changed my opinion of Pines of Rome, which I previously thought boring. But when the orchestra is playing so loud that your back is pressed against the seat and those whales rise higher and higher and just when you think the music can’t get any louder it gets louder… It’s still giving me goosebumps. And Sorcerer’s Apprentice was much better live, all those little things and nuances I noticed for the first time. Just imagine what Firebird or Night on Bald Mountain would’ve sounded like! If you ever get a chance to attend a concert like that, please do! It’s definitely the best sound system for Fantasia-viewing needs ;D

    Here in Finland, Pomp and Circumstance is an unknown piece, so I was never bothered by any associations with graduation. I think it gets a bad rap it doesn’t deserve.

  13. I have nothing of import to say because I thought I saw Fantasia 2000 in IMAX but I literally don’t remember any of the shorts you talk about here, so I guess not…? But

    “(Andersen you emo bitch)”

    was fucking hysterical.

    Also, I literally just watched NCritic’s review of Jurassic Park yesterday so the inclusion of The T-Rex Song was very topical. 😄 ALL SHE NEEDS IS A MIC DROP.

    Also, w/r/t Noah’s Arc

    Around 8:30 discusses your question 😄

  14. By the way, do you know the shorts they wanted to use for Fantasia 2006 until the project was scrapped? I always thought that if they had removed the guest stars from Fantasia 2000 and kept the theatre atmosphere, replaced The tin soldier with The little match girl (watch it, if you haven’t yet!!!!) and had added Destino instead of shelving the idea (again, watch it!), Fantasia would have been superior. It is too bad.

  15. Nice review. Hot U.M. Wife, darling, you may let him back into bed now. Only if ya want, of course. 😉
    What I really dislike about Fantasia are the live action sequences. Do you know what would be really great? Only music and animation, elegantly flowing from a segment to segment. There just shouldn’t be any background, explanation, or presentation. Who the hell thought a fusion between Disney animation and classic music needs presentation?! They’re fucking born for each other!
    The other complaint I reserve for Fantasia 2000 only, and yes, it’s the CGI. Why? Whyyy? Or, better yet, why did they stop there? Why not use a Swedish techno DJ to conduct the orchestra? That would be a matching mood killer.
    Hhhhffffssssss!

  16. >>I already covered The Sorcerer’s Apprentice in the original review so let’s move on. The sequence ends with Mickey congratulating original Fantasia composer Leopold Stokowski and then CROSSING BETWEEN THE REALMS OF THE DEAD AND THE LIVING to talk to 2000 composer James Levine.

    Sneaking in as the resident classical music expert (have a Ph.D. in the stuff), I don’t want to get too pretentious and talk about all the weird cuts made to the musical works and all that (you only hear about half of the first movement of Symphony No. 5–who knew?)…

    But before somebody lands on you for this, Mouse, you might…just…want to replace “composer” with “conductor” there….trust me, you’ll be glad you did. (Hint: Beethoven, Shostakovich, Elgar, Stravinsky, Gershwin…those dudes are the “composers”)

    Slinks away, biding my time till the “Emperor’s New Groove” review… 😉

  17. I personally prefer the original Fantasia to Fantasia 2000, but there’s definitely some amazing stuff in 2000, with Rhapsody In Blue being my fave. In the end, I might be one of the few people who loved classical music, even when I was really young, so I could tolerance the slower moments in the original Fantasia. (except for this one moment in the Rite of Spring before the T-Rex scene, but after the magma scene, but that’s beside the point.)
    I understand it’s your opinion and that slow classical moments aren’t your cup of tea, and by extension the original Fantasia, but I for one don’t think it’s worth you having your disney-fanboy title taken away.

    I’m sure the followers of Larry and Comrade Crow however think otherwise.

    (PS: Good luck dealing with the next film, that film bored me so much that the only thing I can remember about it were the puppets they had as McDonalds toy promotions.

    1. Yeah, I’m a big fan of classic music, and I love The Rite of Spring as a ballet (it usually has something haunting when they do the sacrifice on stage, and the music pushes the dancer to really unusual movements…I always roll my eyes when they say in the movie that it is a series of tribe dances, because it is way more than just that), but the Fantasia segment does nothing to me. It’s too long, it doesn’t really transform the music as well as the other segments and it just doesn’t grab me at all (I’m also not THAT into dinosaurs…). But in a way, that’s the great thing about both Fantasia movies…you can simply pick the segments you like the best if you want.

  18. Hah! My neurotic need to always view everything chronologically has paid off! Unlike *some*, I know exactly what is going on here! Also, hiring Frollo as judge in your trial? Yikes. This bird’s serious.

    I’m probably in the camp of preferring the first Fantasia. 2000 is kind of forgettable for me really. Maybe just because it was released at time Disney movies were getting a bit less memorable and had more competition, but I dunno, I can hum a tune from any of the pieces Fantasia immortalized. Fantasia 2000? Not so much. And the studio’s catering more to the public rather than not caring about what they say and making something purely artistic rubs me the wrong way a bit as well. I think staying on the safe side led to this one’s being a bit more mediocre. The one Walt had more involvement in had more of his bravado which made Fantasia stand out more in my mind.

    I do seem to remember the Beethoven bit having a plot, but I remember not really getting it and not being dragged in. That said, I can see what you mean about it being a step up from the original first animated sequence, but maybe not enough of a step up to cement it in my memory too much. And I remember those whales not holding my attention too much either. Willie they are not.

    As for Rhapsody in Blue, I can’t hold a grudge on anyone for putting it ahead of What-Do-You-Mean-There-Was-A-Bit-After-Dance-Of-The-Hours? and I guess it made the piece memorable enough, but I don’t exactly have memories of it being amazing and wanting to watch it repeatedly or anything. It was probably the most memorable part of the movie, and it was mostly just ok to me. Maybe I’d have liked it more it I’d been introduced to it now having been exposed to more Gershwin-style jazz music and gained a better appreciation. As I said, Fantasia 2000 might just have been released at the wrong time. Maybe in similar ways to how you described Tarzan suffered from its release date.

    Ha ha. Funnily enough, Toy Story actually was originally going to feature the Tin Toy from an earlier Pixar short. Maybe that toy was partially inspired by Andersen’s story as well. Also, why do rats hate toy soldiers so much? They never seem to be able to get along in any stories they both show up in. And is it just me or does Disney have a thing for adapting Andersen stories to change the ending so the protagonist doesn’t melt at the end?

    And yeah, the Carnival of the Animals bit. This might be the part I hold the biggest grudge on. At the time I saw Fantasia 2000 in theatres, I was huge on Carnival of the Animals. I loved the idea of themed pieces for each animal and still do have a particular affection for themed music pieces like The Four Seasons, and, yes, sorry Gustav, The Planets. Hearing that Disney was going to make a production out of it, I was naturally beyond giddy, only to be greeted with a bunch of flamingo randomosity. As I’ve probably said before, it was pretty much the opposite of my experience watching the Nutcracker performance (which probably has similar non-fans who were wondering where the hell the nutcracker was in this whole thing). I guess what puts sequences like the Nutcracker bit ahead in my book is that it at least keeps the magical fantasy element which classical music so lends itself to (hence the name Fantasia) whereas 2000 has a lot more zany slapstick which falls a bit short of the feel of the first. I guess a carnival would probably give call for some clowning around, but still. Maybe I just don’t like flamingoes. You can’t imagine how snobby those guys get. I mean, yes, I get it, you get to play with nobility and yes, I bet the royal court is absolutely fabulous, just come off it, pinky.

    …Wait a minute, what gave Angela a pass on her reaping duty for Panchito in this one? I mean come on, that murder she wrote premise was freaking awesome! Much cooler than the Firebird sequence, which I’ll agree was really forgettable (funny, seeing as it probably comes closest to the original Fantasia’s feel and Stravinsky’s Firebird definitely gave me the chills whenever it played on that video I loved to watch that introduced the written alphabet along with classical scores). And I guess it did fail to compete with Bald Mountain in sheer terror (that bird did scare me, but most certainly not as much as That-Character-Who-Totally-Never-Was-In-Fantasia-What-Are-You-Talking-About?).

    Well, Walt wasn’t about to let your opinion slide, but I think I can agree to disagree here, probably especially because I like Aristocats, so what do I know? Nice review.

  19. I saw this in IMAX and ended up in the front row. The crick in my neck was totally worth it for Rhapsody in Blue. The clarinet glissando becoming a single line Manhattan skyline made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I’ve been a Gershwin girl for a long time and when that massive piano chord comes and they use an original Hirshfield drawing of George, I burst into tears.

    I’ve really enjoyed your Disney reviews.

  20. I love the Firebird Suite in Fantasia 2000. As in, its my favorite of the entire movie.

    Also, I feel the need to say that, despite some similarities, Firebird and Bald Mountain are very different pieces.

    Bald Mountain focuses on the Devil (they call him Chernabog, but supplementary material reveals that he’s the Devil) and the horrible things he does; the perversions he creates. It’s a dark piece of animation and is supposed to be dark.

    Firebird, on the other hand is not dark all the way through: hope and life returns at the end, Mount Saint Helens is brought to life, and is more of a “rising from the Ashes” story. It’s more of a story of returning from something horrible and bouncing back.
    Firebird is especially poignant to me because the volcano is supposed to be Mount St Helens, a volcano that exploded in 1980. It spewed several million tons of ash and killed everything around it. To this day, the exact death count is unknown. (The general guess is 57.)
    And like in Firebird, the plants returned somewhat quickly.
    In the end, after a great destruction, life returns. Life endures.

    Also, I like the Firebird more because they’re more mindless destruction and less evil.

    But that’s just my opinion. I can see why people don’t like it, but I adore the Firebird Suite because it brings me hope and joy.

  21. I love the Firebird Suite in Fantasia 2000. As in, its my favorite of the entire movie.

    Also, I feel the need to say that, despite some similarities, Firebird and Bald Mountain are very different pieces.

    Bald Mountain focuses on the Devil (they call him Chernabog, but supplementary material reveals that he’s the Devil) and the horrible things he does; the perversions he creates. It’s a dark piece of animation and is supposed to be dark.

    Firebird, on the other hand is not dark all the way through: hope and life returns at the end, Mount Saint Helens is brought to life, and is more of a “rising from the Ashes” story. It’s more of a story of returning from something horrible and bouncing back.
    Firebird is especially poignant to me because the volcano is supposed to be Mount St Helens, a volcano that exploded in 1980. It spewed several million tons of ash and killed everything around it. To this day, the exact death count is unknown. (The general guess is 57.)
    And like in Firebird, the plants returned somewhat quickly.
    In the end, after a great destruction, life returns. Life endures.

    Also, I like the Firebird more because they’re more mindless destruction and less evil.

    But that’s just my opinion. I can see why people don’t like it, but I adore the Firebird Suite because it brings me hope and joy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s