Main      Site Guide    
At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Fantasia 2000 (1999)



Reviews and Comments

The original intention behind Fantasia was that it would be constantly revised, new segments added and others dropped over time. The box office failure of the film put a stop to that, but nearly sixty years later, Roy Edward Disney served as executive producer for Fantasia 2000, which includes The Sorcerer's Apprentice from the original film and eight new animated segments. They are strung together with generally awful and out of place introductory bits with celebrity hosts, but never mind them. On the whole, the animation is beautiful and creative, though not quite as dramatic or daring, and the music selections are wonderful.

The best segment is Rhapsody In Blue, a comic frametale of assorted characters in New York City. The drawings look like they sprung to life out of New Yorker cartoons; I loved the creativity and humor of the piece. Strong for entirely different reasons is Pines of Rome, a segment that evokes great awe and majesty. It's so free and carefree that when whales swim out of the water and into the air, it feels entirely natural.

The Firebird Suite, illustrating a paradise landscape destroyed and renewed, is a good one, too, although, as the final segment in the film, it invites unfair comparisons with the original's finale, Night on Bald Mountain, more grand and dramatic than anything in the sequel.

On a more comic note is a segment where Donald Duck oversees the animals on Noah's Ark, scored by Pomp and Circumstance. Though Donald's classic voice is missed, the segment is amusing and, strangely enough, moving, too. Also moving, and cute too, is Hans Christian Andersen's The Steadfast Tin Soldier, accompanied by Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2, which reaffirms that the Disney animators know better than anyone how to infuse life into inanimate objects.

The remaining two, an abstract piece based on Beethoven's great Symphony No. 5 and a quick romp with flamingos prancing to Carnival of the Animals, are weak. The former is nice but uninspired, while the second is cute but...well, uninspired. Even the weakest segment in the original Fantasia (Rite of Spring) was more ambitious.

Though inferior, Fantasia 2000 is nevertheless a wonderful musical treat that reminds us how beautiful and entertaining classical music can be. It also, interestingly enough, reminds us of the potential of silent film, which was never really silent so much as speechless. The narrative segments of Fantasia 2000 have greater clarity and impact than all too many talkies do.

Series Entries