Fantasia is a 1940 motion picture, the third in the Disney animated features canon, which was a Walt Disney experiment in animation and music. The soundtrack of the film consists of eight pieces of classical music, played ... more »by the Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of Leopold Stokowski. Animated artwork of varying degrees of abstraction or literalism is used to illustrate or accompany the concert in various ways. The film also includes live-action segments featuring Stokowski, the orchestra, and American composer and music critic Deems Taylor, who serves as the host for the film. Besides its avant-garde qualities, Fantasia was notable for being the first major film released in stereophonic sound, using a process dubbed "Fantasound".
Originally released by Walt Disney Productions (without then-distributor RKO Radio Pictures) as a roadshow film with booked engagements, RKO eventually picked up Fantasia for release in 1941 and edited the film drastically in 1942, leaving the film with only 84 minutes of running time. Future re-releases restored various amounts of the deleted footage, with the most common version being the 1946 re-release edit. The original version of Fantasia was never released again after 1941, and although some of the original audio elements no longer exist, a 2000 DVD release version attempted to restore as much of the original version of the film as possible.« less
David B. Spalding | Chromejob-dot-com | 08/22/2002
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The quality and presentation of this restored version of FANTASIA is wonderful. Finally restored, unseen since the initial release, are the complete introductory sequences, including a chimes player's accident with his instrument, the orchestra applauding Mickey Mouse, and the orchestra shuffling out for the intermission. Even the original title card has been returned to its proper place, during the intermission. (Some of the narration was rerecorded due to original voice tracks being no longer available.)
But there is CONSIDERABLE CONTROVERSY over the continued censorship of the "Pastorale" sequence. Circa 1969, the seemingly racist shots of a black centaurette (similar to Our Gang's "Buckwheat") attending on the white centaurettes were cut from the film, resulting in a "jump" in the music. Allegedly, the 1980 release's newly recorded music soundtrack covered up the clumsy edit, so that the remaining choreography was in sync. Subsequent releases to video have used optical tricks to remove the appearance of black centaurs, so that the original music track scans properly.
In this "restored" version, these optical edits are still glaringly obvious. (E.g., an optical zoom to avoid the black centaurette shows you the film grain up close, in another shot, a green bush magically slides across the ground by itself!)
The film survives as a masterpiece of filmic art, and this presentation of a "politically correct, original version" (my description) is tempting. But Disney does this release, and all customers and fans, a disservice by inappropriately calling it a "restored" and "uncut" version, when in fact it is NOT the version that was seen in the 1940 road shows.
Let your buying conscience be your guide, but consider the significance of buying an "original, restored" version that is neither, and perpetuates revisionist cuts as if they never happened."
Fantasia is Brilliant, But 3 Disk Set is Overrated
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 09/16/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Walt Disney's 1942 FANTASIA was a groundbreaking film and remains a landmark to this day, a brilliant series of animated sequences set to notable concert music conducted by Leopold Stokowski of The Philadelphia Orchestra. The three disk FANTASIA ANTHOLOGY, however, is extremely overrated.The first disk is the original FANTASIA, which Disney describes as restored. This is not strictly true. First and foremost, the restoration of visual elements is sloppy at best, with the film plagued by streaks and blips, and at least one sequence ("Dance of the Hours") appears to be slightly cropped. That aside, portions of the Deems Taylor narration have been completely lost, and these have been rerecorded by Tim Matheson--and Matheson's voice is not a good match for Taylor and the sychronization is poorly done. Lastly, one selection ("Pastoral") has been censored: a brief image, which would be considered racist by today's standards, has been deleted from the sequence.Even so, it is still FANTASIA, and it overcomes all of these liabilities. The animation, which was created by hand and photographed through a number of laborious processes, shows Disney Studios at the height of its powers. Every one is certain to have their favorites among the selections (mine are "Dance of the Hours" and "Night on Bald Mountain"), but every selection is brilliantly conceived and executed, and although the content varies from sequence to sequence the overall style of the film hangs together in a most remarkable way. FANTASIA was, is, and will no doubt will forever remain a touchstone in animation art.Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the second disk, FANTASIA 2000. This particular film is extremely uneven, the sequences lack the same cohesive style that held the original FANTASIA together, and the entire film is beset by a series of often obnoxious "celebrity" introductions that give the film the feel of a made-for-TV variety show. Still, some of the visual ideas are very impressive, and while they are too few to offset the portions of the film that do not work, they still make FANTASIA 2000 mildly entertaining.Both the FANTASIA and FANTASIA 2000 disks include documentaries and commentary tracks on each film. The third disk, called "The Fantasia Legacy," is a bonus packed with interviews, archieval footage, and sketches that show how each sequence in both films was developed and then filmed. Some of this material is redundant, for it is included on the documentaries on the first two disks, but most of it is unique to this disk alone. Disney originally saw FANTASIA as a film that could be re-released with a mix of old and new selections every few years, and the most interesting material on the "Legacy" disk is a restored "Clair de Lune" (made for and then cut from the original FANTASIA) and various storyboard ideas for future sequences.The only way one can obtain the "Legacy" disk is to purchase this three disk package--and therein lies the rub. The original FANTASIA is brilliant, and even in its so-so state it is worthy of a place in any DVD library. FANTASIA 2000, however, is trivial, occasionally interesting but not greatly memorable and not a piece that one would normally go out of the way to purchase. And the price for the three disk package is quite steep.If you are a Disney fan who must have every scrap of material available, I would recommend the investment this package requires. But if your primary interest is the original FANTASIA, you are much better off simply purchasing a DVD of that film alone--the other two disks are simply not worth the expense. Purchasers should alos remember that the original FANTASIA does not often appeal to very young children, and if the purchase is being made for a child you are likely to be disappointed in their response. Final thought: the original FANTASIA is brilliant, FANTASIA 2000 is so-so, and the bonus disk is for hardcore fans. This pricey package is recommended to the latter only."
(2 out of 5 stars)
"As a lifelong musician and artist, Fantasia has been one of my all time favorite movies since I first saw it in theaters as a child. My wife, knowing my great love for this movie, bought the DVD version for me as a birthday gift. When I put the DVD on, however, my excited anticipation quickly turned to depressed disappointment.I immediately realized that the voice of the narrator, Deems Taylor, whose wonderful and soothing voice spans the entirety of the movie, had been overdubbed with someone else's voice! Deems Taylor was a widely known and respected music critic in his time. He had a beautiful, deep sonorous and expressive voice. The sound of his voice was an essential part of the aural and musical magic of this film. Yet, the new owner's of Disney saw fit to overdub his voice with that of some squawky and squeaky sounding unknown, thereby ruining the entire film.I did some research to find out why, in the name of "preservation", Disney studios would destroy this film in the way that they have. The reason, supposedly, was because they found old footage (which was NOT in the version we all knew and loved as kids) which they wanted to insert - but the audio on that obscure footage had been damaged. They felt they had to redub those voice overs. Fine. But then, in the process, they re-dubbed the entire film, even the parts that had not been damaged!I understand, for historical interest, that some people might be interested in seeing the extra, obscure footage which had been edited out long ago , but that extra footage easily could have been put on a special features disc, not in the actual movie that millions of fans have come to know and love. This was a horrible decision by a studio which increasingly seems to have lost all sense of artistic taste and common sense. What a sad, sad disappointment.Soon, I'll be buying a DVD recorder and I hope to preserve the original VHS version I have in that way."
David B. Spalding | 01/14/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Please becareful when buying this DVD. The package say it's uncut but it really isn't. Disney felt they needed to censor some scenes because they might offend some black people. I'm a black person and I'm more offended by Disney lying to me then the scenes. I hope someday in the future Disney will think I'm mature enough to own a real uncut version."
"Uncut version"....I don't think so!
Downunder Blunder | Ashburton, Victoria Australia | 11/23/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"It was great to see all of the narration put back into the film, but this so called "Uncut" edition, is not what is seems. Being a life-long fan and collector of "Fantasia" items, I was shocked to see (or not to see), the small black centaurette pyganinnies, totally removed from the film in the "Pastoral Symphony". Disney's "pan & scan" techinque in one sequence chopped them out and when Bacchus is ushered up the stairs, they have been totally wiped out of the segment (the carpet now rolls itself up to the throne...ah,Disney magic). I have many of the above mentioned sequences on video and was really hoping that they would find their way back into the DVD "uncut version". I realize that in this age of 'racial discrimination" that certain things can't be shown or referred to, but give me a break, "Fantasia" is art and should not have been censored, besides, these are mythical creatures. Also,......I remember Demms Taylor as having a different voice, the one in the DVD really does not sound like him at all. Anyway these are my thoughts. Having waited so long for the "uncut version", I feel very let down."