class=”alignleft size-full wp-image-59289″ title=”fantasia blu-ray” src=”https://www.heyuguys.com/images/2010/12/fantasia-blu-ray.jpg” alt=”” width=”220″ height=”220″ />Disney’s Fantasia is a classic film and an oddity in popular cinema. A comeback vehicle for Disney’s most famous creation, the image of Mickey clad in the robes of a sorcerer whizzing through a castle followed by a hurricane of brooms is so well known now that a single frame from the film will cause most people to recall its name – Fantasia.
Designed to be an experience rather than a movie Fantasia represents some of the most breathtaking work committed to film, with a vivid and effervescent imagination present in every frame. The new Blu-ray released by Disney in the past few weeks brings this film to a whole new audience and celebrates Disney at his liveliest; both experimental and scintillating Fantasia is unlike any other film of its era and is a joy seventy years on.
Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring is a particular favourite section of mine, with grand, dramatic visuals and some intricate effects. It also highlights one of the absolute joys of this box set, that being the extensive extras which lay the whole story of Fantasia bare. From dwindling financial clout through Walt Disney’s experimental visions and desires to a dour critical reception and a protracted period of cutting, re-cutting, restoration and numerous releases – the story of Fantasia is as important as any in the Disney history.
I poured through these extras, looking at the history and the evolution of the sections, with the visual effects documentaries being the most enlightening. The Schultheis Notebook is a fascinating account of Disney’s collaborator Herman Schultheis who, as a camera effects developers, kept an extensive account of this effects he created in a notebook. The notebook was lost, as was Schultheis himself but that’s another story, and subsequently rediscovered and this spellbinding document is given a very decent and worthy documentary which revealed the ingenious effects while giving the whole production an element of context and perspective. I was enthralled.
With Fantasia 2000, the sequel to the 1940 original is included here, and while is cannot recapture the sense of awe which seventy years affords Fantasia this new film holds within in the echo of an idea Walt Disney had all those years ago. Conceived as a rolling production, with new sections and new tours, Fantasia was about the experience of music and animation and could conceivably have endured through years of new sections and new pieces of music. Instead the Fantasia 2000 project went through a similarly turbulent production, but the result is a worthy follow up, with new animated sections and new pieces of music, with introductions by Steve Martin, Penn and Teller, Quincy Jones and Angela Lansbury to name a few.
Another clear incentive, beside the film, its sequel and the wealth of lovingly prepared extras, is the Blu-ray debut of Destino, which began life as an idea Disney had to work with the Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali. A few seconds were animated in the end before the project was abandoned, but the storyboards and sketches, ideas and notes were still around and Roy Edward Disney found these and began on the film’s production, decades after the meeting of two incredible minds. The result is surreal and spectacular, and like the other features on the double disc, the documentary about Dali and Disney is intelligent, captivating and worth a watch.
I can’t say enough good things about these films, the Blu-rays are stunning and the extras perfect. This is a perfect introduction if you’ve ever enjoyed Fantasia and if you’re looking for something which goes a little deeper into the production and history of this cinematic work of art then look no further – this is the disc for you.
The Blu-ray and DVD of Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 is out now.