***/**** Image A Sound A- Extras B+
story direction by Joe Grant and Dick Huemer
directed by James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, Ford Beebe, Norm Ferguson, Jim Handley, Thornton Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts, and Paul Satterfield
*½/**** Image A Sound A Extras B+
directed by Pixote Hunt, Hendel Butoy, Eric Goldberg, James Algar, Francis Glebas, Gaetan Brizzi, Paul Brizzi, and Don Hahn
by Bryant Frazer More than twenty years ago, I sat in Stan Brakhage's office at the University of Colorado, handling original frames of 65mm IMAX film stock that the avant-garde filmmaker had hand-painted with swirling layers of colour. He explained that IMAX had commissioned him to create an abstract film specifically for presentation on the huge screens of their theatres. It was a great idea, and I wondered when the film had screened. Never, Brakhage told me. The IMAX people eventually lost interest in the idea, and "Night Music" was shown instead in 16mm prints, drastically reduced from the large-gauge film stock. Although IMAX were bold enough to approach Brakhage in the first place, the company got cold feet when it came time to actually exhibit non-narrative cinema--even for only 30 seconds!--for a paying audience.
Something similar happened in the making of Fantasia, which was Walt Disney's attempt, flush with the success of 1937's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, to marry his recently-built animation studio's work with some of the greatest music ever composed in a decidedly high-minded film. Disney's featured collaborator on the project was the orchestral conductor Leopold Stokowski, but another contributor was Oskar Fischinger, a German filmmaker who had worked on special effects for Fritz Lang's The Woman in the Moon (1928) before fleeing Nazi Germany in 1936 to work at Paramount. Fischinger made abstract animated shorts, in the tradition of Walter Ruttmann and Viking Eggeling, that suggested a purely visual equivalent to music. His influence is clear in the first animated sequence in Fantasia, set to Stokowski's orchestral arrangement of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor. A multiplicity of shapes flutter and weave their way in patterns across the screen. Roiling waves of colour bulge up from the bottom of the frame, almost like rolling landscapes seen from the cockpit of a low-flying plane.
Fischinger's ideas were taking hold, but not in the way he had hoped. According to biographer William Moritz, Fischinger had for years wanted to license Stokowski's Bach arrangements for film. Though Stokowski brought Fischinger to Disney with him, it's easy to see why Fischinger might feel his own ideas were snatched away from him. Anyway, Fischinger was paid little and his relationship with Disney ended badly. Evidence suggests Disney pushed back against Fischinger's contributions, suspecting the mass audience had little patience for truly non-representational images. Fischinger's tiny lines became the tips of violin bows, see-sawing up and down in time with the music. The background of the animation started to convey a mountainous landscape, with cathedral-like shapes emerging from the diaphanous colour and light on screen. It's not terrible, but if you compare it to Fischinger's preferred style of work, vulgarized is a highly appropriate descriptor. Walt Disney had come thisclose to embracing the avant-garde. Just a few years after Fantasia, he partnered with Salvador Dali on another animated project that fell through when, once again, Disney was unable to mesh Dali's sensibilities with his own. He finally seemed less intrigued by the abstract, as an aesthete, than he was mistrustful of it, as a showman.
Fantasia is, clearly, a very ambitious filmmaker's attempt to secure a position for his art in the pantheon. Yoking Disney's animated populism to acknowledged classical masterworks was more than a way to bring classical music to a wide audience. It was a way to elevate Disney's own work by association. And it turns out Fischinger wasn't the only one who felt his work was diminished by its time in the Disney dream factory. The great Igor Stravinsky, too, eventually complained about the way his Rite of Spring was appropriated and manipulated and, finally, juxtaposed with images of bubbling lava and fighting dinosaurs. (The party line out of Disney all these years has been that the composer expressed his approval at the time the film was actually being made and only turned cranky in retrospect.)
Most of the composers whose work was used in Fantasia were dead, of course, by the time their tunes made it to the silver screen, and therefore couldn't complain about any perceived indignities. And while it may be difficult to say what, exactly, Tchaikovsky would have made of Disney's elaborate and imaginative reconsideration of the Nutcracker suite, which eschews the familiar storybook setting for a series of musical numbers featuring fairies, fish, and anthropomorphic flowers and mushrooms, I'd wager that Beethoven would have been offended or at least baffled by the deeply stupid setting for his Symphony No. 6, Walt Disney at his most cloying.
Oh, "The Pastoral Symphony." A high point in the low history of cartoon kitsch, this segment of Fantasia brings together pudgy airborne cherubim; gambolling pre-pubescent fauns; beaming, fratboyish centaurs; nubile, topless "centaurettes;" and the wine-swilling Bacchus. (All this debauchery received a G rating from the MPAA back in 1969, and Disney has understandably failed to submit the film for a re-rating since then.) They have all gathered to flirt and frolic in the shadow of Mount Olympus, from whose heights the gods crash the party by hurling lightning bolts groundward out of their cloudy hammocks. From the ceaseless mugging of the animated performances to the surprisingly prurient tits-and-haunches content, it's designed to captivate audiences with off-handed charm and sophistication. But the feeling of formula and calculation is impossible to overcome. Disney himself, in an unguarded moment that has invited derision over the decades, declared, "I think this thing will make Beethoven."
In concept, it may sound pretty great. In execution, it's the quintessence of everything that's sick-making in the Disney style of animation. The cherubs, little sexual enablers who primp the pin-up centaurettes to better attract a mate, forever turning their improbably bulbous asses toward the camera, are nauseatingly ingratiating in the manner of a signed-and-numbered hardbound coffee-table collection of "Family Circus" cartoons with a cover illustration by Thomas Kinkade. The centaurs look dimly, dully jockish, and even the gods themselves are drawn as big, beefy doofuses. Of course, now that Disney has painstakingly erased from these scenes the character of Sunflower, the half-donkey black servant girl who originally spent her screentime grooming her Caucasian counterparts, this segment is nowhere near as hard to sit through as it used to be. Still, I've never grasped the sense of wonder that's widely alleged to lurk in this typically sugary Disney display.
As bad as "The Pastoral Symphony" is, it's redeemed somewhat by its proximity to more indelible classics of animation. Indeed, what makes Fantasia fascinating is its multifarious nature. "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," for instance, is the wildest thing I've ever seen Mickey Mouse involved in. Assigned by his wizardly supervisor to the job of water-carrier, the Mouse dons his absent boss's magic hat and brings a lowly broom to life to do the work for him. When he later finds that he lacks the discipline to control his now apparently sentient creation, he takes an axe to it, ferociously busting the thing into splinters in a scene that takes place off-camera and is only seen in an expressionistic shadow play. It's a scary moment--and not just because of the sudden explosion of violence. Rather, this is one of the truly frightening moments in the Disney pantheon because it dares the unthinkable: it depicts Mickey as an asshole on a power trip, primed to explode. He won't hesitate to take you down in order to cover his little mouse ass. I never looked at that damn rodent the same way again.
Serious animation fans often cite "The Dance of the Hours" as their favourite Fantasia segment, in part because it has a raucous, largely non-narrative conceit--ballet as performed by self-serious troupes of ostriches, hippos, elephants, and alligators--that undermines the pretentiousness of the rest of the film without resorting to ingratiating tweeness. I can take it or leave it, though I really do love the dance of the dead that livens up Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain, with its images of pagan god Chernabog re-animating corpses, conjuring demons, and sending skulls and bare-breasted harpies, screaming, straight into the camera. (Tattoo artists with Blu-ray players could get a lot of mileage out of this disc, its still-frame function, and a good sketchbook--provided they can tolereate the big pop-up panel that blocks part of the screen in pause mode.) The toweringly evil figure of Chernabog, brought to massive, muscular life by star animator Vladimir Tytla, is rightly considered one of the all-time classic characters in the cartoon form. (Tytla is one of those guys who animates figures utterly convincingly in three-dimensional space.) Some complain that the final transition from the penultimate "Bald Mountain" into the film's finale, Schubert's Ave Maria, with the Dark One cowed and beaten down by the simple ringing out of a church bell, is simplistic or clichéd, but I think it's rather nice. An early plan to end the film on an image of the Madonna was, thankfully, scuttled.
Sadly, other segments of Fantasia are just flat-out boring. The dumbed-down "Toccata and Fugue" opening is decent but unremarkable, and I've always been pretty impatient with the large-scale prehistoric graphics that dominate the interminable "Rite of Spring" sequence. The dinosaur fight centrepiece is kinda nifty, but Willis O'Brien could totally take these guys to school. (For his part, Brakhage, arguably an even more important figure in the evolution of abstract animation than Oskar Fischinger, was never impressed by Disney, dismissing him out of hand as a dangerous crank in the business of frightening children. "I would rather take a chance on Hell than go to Disneyland," he once said.)
In the short term, Fantasia amounted to an expensive disappointment for the studio. Disney's next film? The cheap and easy Dumbo. It was a big hit, but the studio never really regained its confidence. "We're through with caviar," declared Disney--still smarting from Fantasia's misfire--in the lean post-war years, according to biographer Neal Gabler. "From now on it's mashed potatoes and gravy." The grosses of Cinderella in 1950 finally gave Disney the resources to set up the company as a perpetual motion machine, aggressively mining the company's back catalogue to keep revenues flowing for decades to come.
Today, Fantasia enjoys a better reputation than ever--and nothing makes Fantasia look better than Fantasia 2000. In 1999, nearly coincident with the 60th-anniversary DVD release of Fantasia the following year, Disney opened a sequel to the venerable anthology film comprised of seven all-new animated segments alongside an encore appearance by "The Sorcerer's Apprentice." While the new cartoons are generally uninspired in story terms, they're further hampered by Disney's tentative embrace of the CG animation format, which upstart Pixar had utterly mastered during the 1990s but which still seemed like an awkward new tool in the hands of Disney's animators. Fantasia 2000 opens like a Pet Shop Boys video circa 1993, in an apparent homage to the "Toccata and Fugue" segment of the original. Dancing to bits of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, abstract bow-tie shards of colour are quickly made to represent butterflies. This business might have looked utterly contemporary to the studio heads in the late 1990s, but it's now hideously dated--it suggests a Flash animation, not something befitting the Disney legacy of perfectionism.
And then Steve Martin shows up--I had no idea he was involved--and suddenly this production starts to feel like a "Saturday Night Live" parody, shot on a cheesy greenscreen set, of a Disney anthology film. It's pretty bad, and it only gets worse with a piece set to Respighi's Pines of Rome that involves a herd of flying humpback whales. Again, the limitations of early CG work have only become more painfully clear with age.
A reasonably lively, if clichéd, representation of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue perks things up a bit. The New York City-themed piece is drawn in the style of Al Hirschfeld's cartoons, though the animation and framing also owe a debt to that great Disney rival, Chuck Jones (whose New York cartoons smoke this one like cheap lox). Then comes the stiff, rudimentary CG animation of "The Steadfast Tin Soldier," set to a Shostakovich piano concerto, dragging the whole project back down again.
After a mild-mannered throwaway featuring flamingos and a yo-yo set to Saint-Saëns, we're treated again to "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," which now sticks out like a sore thumb because of its ridiculously high level of comparative quality. Yet even this is marred by the very ending, recycling the famous gag where Mickey is seen, in silhouette, tugging on the coattails of the maestro Stokowski to get his attention. Presumably in order to match the vocal performance in the very next scene, where Mickey interacts with Fantasia 2000 impresario James Levine, Walt Disney's original voice acting has been overdubbed by the late Wayne Allwine, who mispronounces Stokowski's name. The next segment, a retelling of the Noah's Ark story set to "Pomp and Circumstance," is a wet, stinking sop to the perceived mass audience, combining animation apparently modeled on The Lion King with Donald Duck and a tune that will be recognizable to any poor sucker who ever sat through a high-school graduation. It's gorgeous, I admit, but pointless. (Is it a bid for the Christian market?)
At least the final segment, a story of destruction and rebirth in the forest set to Stravinsky's 1919 Firebird Suite, has a real magnificence to it. Though its only characters are a forest sprite, an elk, and a volcano, its scope feels suitably infinite. With a style suggestive of Miyazaki's great animated features, it's not exactly looking to the future of animation, but it's beautiful, of-the-moment stuff nonetheless. It's a fitting visual counterpart to the triumphant, chiming climax of The Firebird, as well as the one part of Fantasia 2000 that can hold a candle to the luxurious images of its predecessor.
|Click for hi-res BD captures|
THE BLU-RAY DISC
Disney brings both Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 to Blu-ray in a four-pack bundle with the two films on DVD. Fantasia is pillarboxed to 1.33:1 in the middle of the 1.77:1 HDTV frame, although you can choose something called "DisneyView" to have those bars filled with scene-specific artwork by Harrison Ellenshaw. This feature seems destined for use mainly by people who really can't stand black bars; the glowing digital curtains are fairly distracting. Then again, I'm watching on an LCD screen--they might be more palatable if you have a projection set-up. Fantasia 2000 is presented in the film's HDTV-native 1.77:1 aspect ratio.
The approach to digital restoration at Disney these days has a supernatural potency. The transfer contained on the Fantasia BD is so close to flawless that, when the first images of musicians taking their seats in the orchestra hit the screen, it's almost impossible to believe they're from a 70-year-old film. The cinematography (by the legendary James Wong Howe) is very high-contrast, with inky blacks in silhouette against a deep blue background. There is no grain to speak of--if you stare intently at the backdrop, you'll detect the barest hint of noise dancing back there, providing just enough entropy to keep the picture from looking dead. But there's no evidence of grain reduction here. The picture remains sharp as a tack, and dubbed MC Deems Taylor, who introduces each of the musical pieces, doesn't have the trademark "waxy" pallor that's so common to aggressively de-noised HD video releases.
Within the animated sequences themselves, the effect is that much more pronounced. It's no exaggeration to say that there is no film grain here at all. Close examination in slo-mo or frame-advance modes reveals some frame-to-frame aberrations that could be vestiges of film grain or some sort of low-grade digital artifact, but it's like trying to watch a meteor shower amid too much light pollution. You keep seeing what could be shooting stars out of the corner of your eye, because you're looking so hard for them, but it's damnably hard to see one straight on. (That said, I am surprised at how Disney has apportioned the bits on this disc. The bitrate rarely crosses the 30 mbps mark, even in very busy shots that really do seem to display some compression flaws, especially mosquito artifacting around high-contrast edges.) Dust, dirt, scratches, and other analog artifacts of the optical and photochemical processes by which animated films were once made have been patiently removed from every frame of Fantasia. The backgrounds of the animated segments are rock steady, the lines of animation are perhaps a wee bit soft (given the Blu-ray formats formidable resolution) but still very clean, and the colours are creamy, smooth, and flawless.
In a way, this is problematic. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, this is a technically perfect version of Fantasia that did not exist--could not have existed--a mere decade ago, let alone in 1940. Any evidence of paintbrush strokes or other imperfect colouring seems digitally smoothed out of existence. The picture remains crisp, even during the "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence, when multiple optical effects were required to layer image upon image in a single shot. Anyone familiar with animation techniques of the day would expect to see all kinds of schmutz littering those pictures, but the image remains almost entirely clean. (You can still see a few chunks here and there, large bits of grime that went unnoticed by the digital dust-busting algorithms.) It's an illusion. It would've been impossible to create these pictures at that point in film history.
Under normal circumstances, this would be a grave transgression and a crime against cinema and etc. Because it's animation, and especially because it's Fantasia, there's something gratifying about the experience. Strictly speaking, this is not a "restoration" of the 1940 roadshow release of Fantasia--Disney has no interest in replicating the experience of seeing a projected theatrical print during that era. They're after something else: the original work of art. When it comes to animation, film is simply the most convenient delivery medium to transport the artists' work from their painted cells to your retinas. Anything that's introduced to the images as they make their way there--film grain, dust and scratches, the murkiness of multiple optical passes--isn't part of the art, it's the cost of doing business. Watching Fantasia on Blu-ray jumps the gap. It's like seeing the original of a famous painting, where a theatrical print feels more like a copy.
The effect is remarkable enough to make me set aside my objections. Chief among them is a feeling that the image here is too clear. Part of Disney's visual formula is the way that foreground and background elements combine with the occasional special effect to create a credible cinematic world. Something about a film print enhances that sense of space, meshing the different pieces of an image together against a background that's ever so subtly out of focus in a way that imparts to it a third dimension. This Blu-ray restoration, on the other hand, brings each morsel of a shot to the fore. Everything from front to back in a scene is clear and clean and well-defined and usually in perfect focus (unless the scene was designed to be softened in places, a decision that this Blu-ray transfer respects and appears to reproduce accurately). It's a little like the difference between listening to a warm vinyl record that mashes up the sound of a rock band just so, creating a unique, expansive, and inviting soundstage, and then listening to a CD version of the same recording and being both startled, delighted, and maybe a tad put out by the sudden crispness and separation. The CD version is almost certainly a more accurate reproduction of the tracks that were laid down in the studio and the mix the sound engineer created, while the vinyl is the one that has the real sense of wonder and mystery about it.
Naturally, there are no such issues with Fantasia 2000, which was created with full resort to digital technology wherever it made sense for cleanup and enhancement. It's presented on this disc in as near-perfect a form as 1080p video allows--the limitations of some of the CG imagery notwithstanding. Fantasia 2000 sounds terrific, too, aiming to turn your viewing room into a concert hall. The symphonic recordings (performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra) are top-notch from an engineering standpoint, highlighting each specific instrumental section without breaking them away from the orchestral whole, and the mix takes full advantage of the 7.1-speaker soundfield without resorting to overly directional effects. Again, I was especially taken with the climax of The Firebird booming through my living room at the film's conclusion. It's a great-sounding disc.
I can't say the same about Fantasia. There's nothing wrong with the encoding for Blu-ray, of course. Like Fantasia 2000, the first film gets the full DTS-HD MA 7.1 treatment and has strict fidelity to the original recordings. Fantasia has a special place in movie history as the first commercial release with multichannel sound ("Fantasound"), and the Blu-ray pays tribute to that history with what seems to be a fairly faithful reproduction of the highly directional music mix intended for the film's initial engagements. The problem is that the score for Fantasia was originally recorded when very little was known about capturing audio for multichannel. Different sections of the orchestra were recorded using different mics, sure, but they were recorded in mono, not stereo, and stereo ambience is an important factor when instruments are placed within a multichannel soundfield--not to mention when they're panned around with abandon, as they are here. The result during the most directionally active parts of the show is fairly thin sound moving quickly from speaker to speaker. Sometimes the effect of different instruments bouncing around the room made me feel like I was seated in the middle of a pinball table.
I can't argue that this mix should not have been included on the disc, since it has obvious historical value. And many viewers won't be bothered by the aural gimmickry. (Disney already tried re-recording the entire score using modern techniques back in the 1980s, a poor decision because it misrepresented Stokowski's contribution to the film as a key creative collaborator.) This is surely the best Stokowski's score has ever sounded--but a mono track or even a downmixed stereo version would have been a nice extra feature, providing a better way to concentrate on Stokowski's arrangements without the directional hoo-hah.
Fantasia is blessed with no fewer than three different audio commentary tracks. Disney fans will probably proceed to the one with vintage audio recordings of Uncle Walt reading aloud from transcriptions of the original Fantasia story meetings. It's true that those bits have their charms; it's interesting to hear Disney interpreting his own words years later, and amusing to imagine being a fly on the wall at those meetings, where Walt's temperament was, I'm guessing, somewhat less avuncular. The track also offers a helping of animation history, covering the adoption of colour for the short Flowers and Trees and Disney's subsequent deal with Technicolor giving him an exclusive on the use of the three-tone colour process in animated films. On the whole, this plays like hagiography, with Disney seeming eager to take credit for every blessed idea in the film.
The best guide to the film overall is "Disney historian" Brian Sibley's commentary, wherein he looks at Disney's intentions, the business realities of the time, and the different artistic contributions made by individual animators and technicians. Sibley takes pains to mention them by name, discuss their careers, and explain the special characteristics of their work. He briefly but even-handedly discusses the issues with Fischinger and Stravinsky and acknowledges the controversy over Sunflower, the absent servant centaurette. (However, he doesn't bat an eye at the dance of the slant-eyed mushrooms during the Nutcracker suite.) Hardcore Disney devotées will know most of this stuff already, but it's a great entry point for more casual viewers. The third Fantasia commentary features the late Roy E. Disney, James Levine (conductor and all-around musicologist for Fantasia 2000), animation historian John Canemaker, and film-restoration manager Scott MacQueen. There's some more good info here but also quite a bit of repetition--and less detail than I'd like on the restoration process.
The commentaries for Fantasia 2000 are a similar bag. There's a self-congratulatory one featuring Roy E. Disney, Levine, and producer Don Ernst that goes into some of the circumstances of the sequel's development. There's solid info here, but you won't miss much by dipping in and out. Much better for students of the craft is the second track, featuring commentary by the filmmakers and art directors responsible for individual segments. (Cartoonist Al Hirschfeld himself shows up to scold aspiring animators for hewing too closely to the details of human anatomy.)
Other extras on Fantasia include the expected "interactive art gallery" of various production sketches and paintings. It's fine but not particularly impressive in its reach, considering how much of this kind of material must survive. Also on board is a short titled "The Schultheis Notebook: A Disney Treasure" (14 mins., HD) that offers glimpses inside an exquisitely detailed notebook kept by Herman Schultheis, a German-born technician in Disney's special-effects department during the production of Fantasia. The short contends that, before the relatively recent discovery of the Schultheis notebook, historians had no good information about how some of Fantasia's photographic effects were actually achieved. While the book looks amazing, the short amounts to something of a tease. It explains to us that the pages of the book were painstakingly digitized and are now available for interactive perusal--but only on location at The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco! Another "bonus feature" (4 mins., HD) makes a more direct pitch for the Disney Family Museum, which opened in 2009. As a blatant advertisement with no direct connection to Fantasia itself, it's more a bug than a feature.
The disc is by no means full--analysis shows that the film and extras uses up about 34 GB of the 50 GB available on the disc--but further extras are relegated to something called Disney's "Virtual Vault." What this means is that the supplements from previous DVD editions of Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 are presented as links to Internet streams, barely annotated to give you a clue of what they may contain and delivered as low-res video clips of atrocious quality (motion artifacting was severe when any of this stuff was sampled on my PlayStation 3) that need to be viewed in a tiny window on your HD screen. Thanks but no thanks, Disney. The package contains new SD DVDs of both films, but I'd much rather have a DVD collecting those vintage extras.
Meanwhile, the real draw in this set for Disney completists--and a Blu-ray exclusive--is on the Fantasia 2000 disc. Destino (7 mins., HD) is the belated product of the brief flirtation between Disney and Salvador Dali back in the 1940s. Disney, an admirer of Dali (and, as ever, a would-be patron of the fine arts), had the idea of letting the master surrealist design an animated short, but Dali's vision was a bit too heady after all and Disney ended up lamenting $70,000 that went down the drain on development of the never-realized piece. The stage is set for Destino by a new documentary, Dali & Disney: A Date with Destino. At 82 minutes, this is just way too long a piece. (And although the copyright is 2010, it's in standard-definition.) It spends a good chunk of its time exploring the background of both Disney and Dali, making a rough case for their equivalency as great artists working in very different media, in addition to detailing the ways that World War II was thought to have held Disney back--financially as well as creatively. It's possible that Disney lost interest in finishing Destino when the so-called "package films" that collected animated shorts fell out of vogue, notes animation historian John Canemaker, one of the talking heads in this doc. "The other theory was that this was so bananas a project that Walt just couldn't release it," he says.
"Bananas" is a great way to describe Destino, although it seems nowhere near as odd today as it would have 50 or so years ago. It's an oddball love story combining trademark Dali imagery (melting clocks, eyeballs, dreamlike landscapes) with more traditional Disney figure animation. I'm not sold on the look of the film, an awkward combination of 2-D and 3-D elements, but as soon as I finished watching it I started it over and watched it again. It made the rounds of some film festivals and scored an Oscar nomination for animated short upon its completion in 2003.
Fantasia also includes an eye-opening short documentary, "Musicana" (9 mins., HD), a look at a follow-up to Fantasia called Musicana that was originally proposed in the 1970s but never came to fruition. Designer Mel Shaw and animator Woolie Reitherman developed the project in surprising--not to mention tantalizing--detail. The short includes tons of Shaw's whimsical pastel illustrations imagining fanciful settings for the film, like a waterborne New Orleans-style jazz club populated by frogs. (A young John Lasseter worked on one planned Musicana sequence, "The Emperor and the Nightingale.") Would that Musicana had been put into production rather than the ramshackle anthology that became Fantasia 2000!
On boot-up, Fantasia plays a commercial for Disney Blu-ray 3D followed by a Blu-ray promo for Bambi, an excruciating preview for Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2, and a brief teaser for Cars 2. A "Sneak Peeks" menu item leads to trailers (not individually selectable) for The Lion King, Alice in Wonderland, The Incredibles, and The Sorcerer's Apprentice, plus an intrusive propaganda piece for DisneyParks.com. These line-ups are exactly the same on Fantasia 2000. The third and fourth discs in this "4-Disc Special Edition" are Digital Copies of the two Fantasias. Originally published: December 28, 2010.