|Title:||The Fantasia Anthology (2000)|
This 3-disc Collector's Edition includes Fantasia, Fantasia 2000 and Fantasia Legacy.
Fantasia: Legacy - Supplemental Features:
|DVD:||3-Disc set; widescreen 1.85:1/16x9, standard 1.33:1; audio English DD & DTS 5.1, French DD 5.1; subtitles none; closed-captioned; single sided - dual layered; 34 chapters; rated NR; 491 min.; $69.99; street date 11/14/00.|
See individual disc for Fantasia and Fantasia 2000.
Fantasia Legacy: In-Depth Exploration Of Segments, Including Storyboards, Concept Art and Character Designs; Special Effects Of Fantasia; Still Frame Galleries: The Art Of Fantasia; Publicity Material; Pencil Tests Of Unused Animation; Exclusive Walt Disney Segments From "Tricks Of Our Trade," "The Plausible Impossible" and "The Story Of The Animated Drawing"; Biographies Of The Filmmakers; Historical Context Of Each Musical Piece; "The Fantasia That Never Was" - Reconstructed Full Animation and Story Reels (With Music) of Abandoned Ideas for: "Clair de Lune," "The Ride of the Valkyries," "The Swan of Tuonela," "Adventures in a Perambulator," and "Invitatin to the Dance"; Still Frame Art for "The Flight of the Bumble Bee," "Mosquito," and "Baby Ballet"; Original Theatrical Trailer.
|Purchase:||Fantasia | Fantasia 2000 | Fantasia Anthology | Fantasia 2000: Vision of Hope - John Culhane, Roy E. Disney|
How DVD special editions have grown over the last year or so! Not long ago we were happy with nice single-DVD special editions like The Matrix or Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Actually, I think we’re still pretty satisfied with packages like those, but there’s no question that double-disc sets are now where it’s at! (Or “at where it is”, for the grammatically correct.)
It’s gotten to the point where three-disc packages are becoming more commonplace. Actually, we’ve seen some of these for a while now; Criterion’s fine port of Brazil appeared in summer 1999. However, thanks to some nice packages from Disney, we’re seeing more of this tri-disc arrangement.
Brazil was one of the very few single-movie three-DVD sets, though that designation is a little misleading. While only one film was featured in that package, it included two versions of Brazil. As far as I know, there aren’t any three-disc releases that provide two DVDs worth of supplements.
Disney have begun to sell some excellent two-film packages. The first of these was the phenomenal Ultimate Toy Box which combined Toy Story and Toy Story 2 plus a slew of wonderful extras. In that same vein comes The Fantasia Anthology. As with the UTB, this set includes two different films. We get the original 1940 version of Fantasia plus the recent “update” called Fantasia 2000. In addition, the boxed set adds a third DVD of supplemental features.
One major difference exists between the UTB and the Anthology. The first two DVDs in the former set were not the same ones available in the Toy Story 2-pack (neither film can be purchased individually on DVD). Instead, the UTB versions of both TS and TS2 added audio commentaries and other features not found on the 2-pack editions.
This is not the case for the DVDs found in the Fantasia Anthology. Both the Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 discs that appear in the boxed set are absolutely identical to those available individually. If you purchase them on their own, you will get exactly the same content found on discs one and two in this package.
As such, I won’t discuss the specifics of those DVDs in this review. I reviewed the discs individually and will leave their discussion to the separate articles. Click on the links to read my thoughts and reaction about Fantasia and Fantasia 2000.
This article will cover only the material found exclusively in the Fantasia Anthology three-DVD package. Most of this appears on the third DVD, which is called the “Fantasia Legacy” and which provides a very nice look at the creation of both films. Without further ado, let’s get on with the show!
When the disc starts, we first encounter a 50-second introduction from Disney animation veteran David Ogden Stiers (Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas). This isn’t something you’ll want to watch repeatedly, but it offers a nice “teaser” for all of the fun yet to come, and I thought it appropriately set the tone.
From the main menu, you can select the film about which you’d like to learn more. The link to Fantasia is on the left-hand side of the screen, while the connection to F2K sits on the right. Whichever you select, the interfaces are identical. Each initial screen uses animated icons for the various shorts, and both also have second “More Features” links that offer additional options.
The structure and the content for each movie is pretty similar. What follows will be my attempt to detail all of the goodies contained within this DVD, and I’ll start with the original 1940 film.
When we go to the section for TOCCATA AND FUGUE IN D MINOR, we can watch an “Introduction” from Disney historian John Culhane in which he gives a nice overview of the piece. This 70-second feature mixed his comments with movie clips and production materials. Virtually every “Introduction” yet to come will duplicate this format; I’ll specify lengths, varying participants, and any additional differences, but otherwise assume that the basics remain the same.
An interesting “Alternate Concept” depicts a version of “Toccata” that might have been. The three minute and 27 second program is bookended with shots of Stokowski’s conducting. In between we find filmed images of unused conceptual art. It’s a nice look at material that didn’t make the finished movie.
In “Visual Development”, we find a whopping 149 interesting images of conceptual art generated for this piece. As we also saw on the UTB and their release of The Black Cauldron, Disney now offer thumbnails for their stillframe material, which I regard as an innovation I can’t believe took this long to occur. This means that rather than have to wade through 149 screens of individual images, we can skip through 17 screens of up to nine thumbnails apiece; one easy click lets us access larger reproductions of the art. I love this system and hope others start to use it!
“About the Music” provides five screens of text about history of the piece and the way that Disney used this music in the film. It’s a nice little primer in some brief but interesting music history.
Note that all of the rest of the segments for both the Fantasia and F2K sections of this DVD will include “Visual Development” and “About the Music” pieces. Along the way, we’ll soon add “Character Design” to the regular cast of supplements. In the interest of brevity, I’ll state the specifications for each of these but won’t make any other comments about them unless an aspect stands out in some way. As with the “Introductions”, assume that the basics of each component stay the same unless I relate information to the contrary.
Next up is THE NUTCRACKER SUITE which starts with a 68-second “Introduction” from famed animator Frank Thomas. We then find an “Excerpt From The Story of the Animated Drawing: Layering and Penciling”. This black and white Disney TV program give us a neat overview of some animation work. The three minute and 26 second program opens with an introduction from Walt and continues with his narration as we watch anonymous artists take a “Nutcracker” cel through the complicated processes. It’s an excellent depiction of the various techniques.
“Visual Development” provides a 76 images of art. “Character Design” includes more still frame materials. We get drawings and shots of some maquettes for the following “Nutcracker” characters: Fairies (6 images), Mushrooms (5), Goldfish (15), and Flowers (13). It’s a solid look at the development of these participants. “About the Music” concludes this area with five screens of interesting text.
The most famous part of Fantasia is represented by THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE”. This area provides the standard “Introduction”, though this 58-second snippet features Disney animation historian John Canemaker in addition to John Culhane.
“Deleted Animation: Mickey With Broom” gives us additional material drawn for “Sorcerer’s” but not fully finished. The rough pencil animation lasts for 65 seconds and more explicitly depicts how Mickey attacks the brooms. When the unused material ends, we then are shown the finished product.
The “Story Reel” provides a filmed combination of concept art and music. These are used to give the animators a rough look at how the finished product will work, and they’re a fun look at the creative process. The story reel for “Sorcerer’s” lasts four minutes and 24 seconds.
“Visual Development” adds 72 pieces of art, which “Character Design” gives us 18 shots of Mickey and sorcerer Yen Sid. (By the way, run that last name backwards and get an inside joke.) ”About the Music” concludes with two screens of text.
The next area examines THE RITE OF SPRING” and begins with an “Introduction” from Culhane; this one lasts 47 seconds. We then launch into an “Excerpt from The Tricks of Our Trade”; this one is an “Effects Demonstration” that appeared on a color Disney TV show. The seven minute and 32 second piece provides an excellent depiction of how all of the fine details were accomplished for this technically-magnificent segment of Fantasia. I continue to find the content of “Rite” to be dull, but I can’t quibble with the artistry that created it, and this program gives us a great look at how the work was completed.
“Visual Development” includes 69 frames of art, while “Character Design” tosses in 24 images of various dinosaurs. Finally, ”About the Music” adds five more screens of text.
The controversial THE PASTORAL SYMPHONY arrives next. Surprisingly, it’s probably most lackluster subsection of this DVD. John Culhane provides a 60-second “Introduction” and then we get 44 shots in “Visual Development”. “Character Design”: offers images of the following participants: Satyrs and Unicorns (13 frames), Pegasus (20), Cupids (12), Centaurettes (31), Centaurs (23), and Bacchus and Gods (31). Lastly, “About the Music” tosses in two screens of text. No mention of the segment’s deleted racial caricatures appears here, though we will hear a little about them later.
The section for DANCE OF THE HOURS begins with a 57-second introduction from Culhane. Next up is another terrific video program from Tricks of Our Trade. Here we get “Live-Action Model Reference”, a very fun clip from the Disney TV show. This six minute and 27 second color piece starts with an introduction from Walt and then shows legendary Disney animators Ollie Johnston, Frank Thomas, Milt Kahl and Marc Davis as they animate work by oft-used live-action reference performer Helene Stanley. It’s an entertaining way to see the manner in which the artists use demonstration performances to influence their work, and it’s a treat to watch.
“Visual Development” adds 23 images of conceptual art while “Character Design” supplies drawings and shots of some maquettes for the following “Dance of the Hours” characters: Ostriches (16 stills), Hippos (35), Elephants (8), and Alligators (16). “About the Music” adds four screens of text.
“Unused Rough Animation” shows 62 seconds of one deleted segment that involved the alligator and the hippo. The program initially integrates the incomplete pencil animation with the final product, and then displays the utilized film in its entirety. The extra few seconds don’t add much to the piece, but it’s wonderful to get to see them.
One of my favorite parts of Fantasia is the dramatic NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN”. The “Introduction” lasts for 44 seconds and involves both Johns (Canemaker and Culhane). We see a snippet from another Disney TV show. The “Excerpt from The Plausible Impossible: Marrying Music and Visuals” gives us a nice demonstration of how images are matched with music in this three minute and 49 second color segment hosted by Walt. I really enjoyed all of the TV segments and only wish we could get them in their entirety. This one is especially fun through the manner in which it combines the “Bald Mountain” music with other scenes from Disney films like Bambi and Fantasia’s “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and “Rite of Spring”.
“Visual Development” gives us 67 images, while “Character Design” adds 16 frames of Chernabog and various ghosts. Lastly, ”About the Music” offers four screens of text.
AVE MARIA” provides a calming antidote to “Bald Mountain”. The “Introduction” features Canemaker, Culhane, and Frank Thomas and runs a little longer than usual at 120 seconds.
Little else appears. “Visual Development” provides 44 images, while “About the Music” adds two screens of text. The only reason I felt the “Pastoral Symphony” section was weaker than this one stemmed from the additional opportunities attached to the former piece; it’s longer and it includes a variety of vivid participants, while “Maria” is more basic in regard to its cast and length.
They aren’t a formal subsection of Fantasia, but they’re important nonetheless. THE INTERSTITIALS are the introductory bits that connect each of the different pieces. This area starts with an “Introduction” from current Disney Company Vice Chairman Roy Disney (Walt’s nephew) plus film historian and restoration supervisor Scott MacQueen and film critic Leonard Maltin. The 104 second explains what happened to Deems Taylor’s interstitial comments from the original version of Fantasia.
“Visual Development” includes 25 images, while “Production Photos” gives us 48 shots from various points in the production and also from the film’s premiere.
That concludes the areas found on the first menu of the Fantasia supplements. When you go to the “More Features” domain, you’ll find lots of additional goodies, most of which appear in THE FANTASIA THAT NEVER WAS.
This section examines a variety of pieces that didn’t make the finished film. The three minute and 15 second “Introduction” features our old friends Culhane and Canemaker and we then launch in explorations of the unused programs themselves.
Unlike most of the material in this area, ”Clair De Lune” was fully completed for Fantasia but it was deleted because of the film’s excessive running time. It later was recast as “Blue Bayou” in Make Mine Music. In this seven minute and 37 second segment, we see “Clair” as it would have appeared had it remained in Fantasia. We also get eight drawings in the “Visual Development” area.
“The Ride of the Valkyries” never got as far in production as “Clair”. As such, we find a two minute and 54 second “Story Reel” that combines art and music to show a rough look at how it would have worked. “Visual Development” adds 136 frames of material.
“The Swan of Tuonela” gives us another “Story Reel”; this ones lasts nine minutes. “Visual Development” adds 77 images as well.
More “Story Reels” appear in two additional sections. “Invitation to the Dance” has a “Story Reel” that goes for two minutes and 49 seconds, and its “Visual Development” domain includes 72 pictures. “Adventures in a Perambulator” gives us a two minute and 22 second “Story Reel” plus 108 images in the “Visual Development” section.
“Never Was” ends with “Other Concepts”. Three appear, all of which are represented by conceptual art: “Mosquito” (12 drawings), “Flight of the Bumblebee” (15), and “Baby Ballet” (36).
After “Never Was” we come to the SPECIAL EFFECTS OF FANTASIA. This area consists wholly of a video program that covers these elements of the film. We hear from Canemaker and animation historian Howard Lowery. For the most part, this four minute and 14 second piece focuses on the Fantasia scrapbook of photographer Herman Schultheis; the document gives us an invaluable look at the nuts and bolts of the film’s creation.
PUBLICITY tosses in a few different elements. Although the DVD touts the inclusion of the film’s “1940 Trailer”, it appears that this ad actually must have been from the 1942 general release since it mentions how the movie spent a year on Broadway. The “Roadshow Program” includes 32 images from the book that was offered during the film’s initial “roadshow” release. It’s a cool addition though I thought it could be a bit tough to read.
We also get the movie’s “1990 trailer” and a “Re-release Schedule”. The latter discusses the various changes that occurred for each reissue and lists the different running times. This is the only place that mentions the alterations to the centaurette scenes in “The Pastoral Symphony”. Lastly, we get a stillframe gallery of 22 different “Posters” from various US and international releases (and re-releases) of Fantasia.
The final area of the Fantasia supplements offers a mix of BIOGRAPHIES. We get very solid listings for Walt, conductor Leopold Stokowski, narrator Deems Taylor, story co-directors Joe Grant and Dick Huemer, and production supervisor Ben Sharpsteen. All of the bios are interesting, but the entries for Walt and Grant are especially compelling.
Now that I’m done with the extras for the original film, I can move on to those created forFANTASIA 2000 . For the most part, the structure of the supplements remains very similar. Any changes will be discussed along the way.
The first major change is readily apparent as we go into the film’s opening segment, Beethoven’s SYMPHONY NO. 5. No longer do we find the ubiquitous introductions of the last area; instead, most of the F2K features include programs similar to “Creating ‘Symphony No. 5’”. This four minute and 29 second featurette combines film clips with production work and interview snippets from the filmmakers. It creates a brief but solid look at how the segment was created.
“Early Concepts” includes work completed for various ideas on how to illustrate “No. 5”. All of these are story reels except for the CGI one. We get: “#1 May 1993” (181 seconds); “#2 September 1993” (188 seconds); “CGI Test of Concept #2” (70 seconds) and “#3”, which lasts 67 and provides both the story reel plus an interview with director Eric Goldberg.
“Proof of Concept Story Reel - June 1998” features material similar to that in the last section except the work more closely resembles the final product. This story reel runs for 170 seconds.
“Visual Development” provides the standard complement of stillframes; here we get 35 images. “About the Music” adds three screens of text that discusses Beethoven and his most famous work.
PINES OF ROME examines one of the more interesting segments of F2K. “Creating ‘Pines of Rome’” is a four minute and 29 second featurette that concentrates on the technical aspects of the short, plus it also discusses some parts of the story.
“Abandoned Concepts” shows two different story reels. One is for the “Penguin Subplot”, and it lasts three minutes and 20 seconds, while the “Original Ending” runs for 64 seconds. Both offer a neat look at variations in the completed work.
“Storyboard to Film Comparison” uses a splitscreen to provide this demonstration. The boards appear at the top of the screen while the movie runs on the bottom. All in all, the piece lasts three minutes and 18 seconds.
The old stand-bys complete this area. “Visual Development” features 52 frames of art, while “Character Design” gives us 15 drawings of whales. Lastly, “About the Music” includes two screens of text.
Up next we examine RHAPSODY IN BLUE. “Creating ‘Rhapsody In Blue’” provides a six minute and 27 second featurette that discusses various aspects of the segment’s creation. “Inspirations from Hirschfeld” uses stillframes to let us see how the film’s characters resemble some made by Al Hirschfeld. We get 41 images that offer a cool look at how Disney used Hirschfeld originals as the basis for the participants. This area also includes the final images from the film for easy comparisons.
“Design” looks at two different areas of the animation. “Art Direction” includes six drawings that were used as a guide for the movie’s look, and “Color Keys” provide 33 images that more concretely depict the color schemes to be used for different parts of the piece.
“The Stages of Animation” is a four minute and 16 second video piece. It consists of an explanation and demonstration of various stages - from story reels to rough animation to final animation and all points in-between - by segment director Eric Goldberg. It’s pretty basic for folks who already know a lot about animation, but it’s a nice look at the different points, and I liked the fact it specifically took on parts of this film’s progress.
“Storyboard to Film Comparison” lasts two minutes and 50 seconds and is the usual split-screen demonstration. ”Character Design” looks at the “Main Characters” (five images) and the “Cast of New Yorkers” (36). Finally, “About the Music” gives us four screens of text about Gershwin and his famous piece.
In PIANO CONCERTO #2, ALLEGRO, OPUS 102, we learn more about how Shostakovich’s piece was incorporated into F2K. “Creating ‘Piano Concerto #2, Allegro, Opus 102” is a nice four minute and 40 second featurette that discusses the short’s development; it mainly focuses on the computer animation aspects of the piece.
This “1938 Storyboards by Bianca Majolie” show an older attempt to adapt the Hans Christian Anderson “Steadfast Tin Soldier” story as an animated short. We get 30 images here. More stillframes appear in “Design”. “Visual Development” provides 31 pieces of concept art, and we also get 31 “Color Keys”. “Character Design” offers drawings of the following participants: Tin Soldier (14 shots), Ballerina (20) Jack-In-the-Box (21).
“Abandoned Concepts” looks at two different prospective parts of this piece. “Alternate Rat Sequence” incorporates finished animation into the final product and lasts 98 seconds, while the “Original Ending” features a 24 second story reel.
“Production Progression Demonstration” allows you to use your DVD player’s “angle” button to go from the story reel to rough animation to clean-up and effects animation to final animation at will. Each segment runs for 39 seconds and these give us a good look at the different stages of completion. “About the Music” adds three screens of text.
Next we look at the CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS, FINALE. This area starts with the usual featurette. “Creating ‘Carnival of the Animals, Finale’” lasts for three minutes and 21 seconds and offers a nice overview of the piece.
An “Early Story Reel: September 1994” runs for 115 seconds and provides a look at the segment’s beginnings. “Original Ending” provides 25 seconds of rough pencil animation and is a fun view of another possibility.
“Design” incorporates three different areas. “Joe Grant Designs” features nine different drawings from the well-known storyman’s ideas, while “Visual Development” (21 frames) and “Color Keys” (14) appear as well. “About the Music” wraps up the section with four screens of text.
Although Fantasia originally was conceived as an ongoing “work in progress” - it would be in continual release, and some segments would be added while others were dropped - THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE is the only part of F2K that also appeared in the original film. All of its materials duplicate those already discussed.
After the Mouse, we find the Duck in POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE - Marches 1, 2, 3 and 4. The standard overview appears in “Creating ‘Pomp and Circumstance’”, though this four minute and 32 second piece provides a little frustration. We hear about and see some storyboards from another Donald concept that was based on “Pomp”. However, no additional evidence of this idea appears on the DVD. Why don’t we see all of the storyboards and hear more about it?
Those pieces should have appeared in “Abandoned Concepts”, which discusses two other ideas for this short. We get story reels for “Icarus Duck” and “Noah’s Dove” The former lasts four minutes and 41 seconds. It involves Donald but uses different music and a different story. “Noah’s Dove” runs for five minutes and 38 seconds and bears many similarities with the final piece. However, it starred a dove instead of the Duck and also had no romantic subplot.
More stand-bys: “Visual Development” gives us 34 stills, while “Character Designs”: features 44 drawings of Donald, Daisy, and the other animals. “About the Music” offers four screens of text. Just in case anyone doubts that I actually watch all of this stuff, I have proof! I detected a typo that says composer Sir Edward Elgar came to prominence in 1989, whereas it should read “1889”. Yes, I do try to be thorough!
Next we get to the film’s conclusion with the FIREBIRD SUITE - 1919 VERSION. The standard “Creating ‘Firebird Suite’” featurette appears, and the six minute and three seconds program provides a good general view of the short.
A two minute and 41 second “Story Reel” gives us a look at the piece’s early conception, while the “Original Ending” provides a fully-animated 87 second snippet that doesn’t appear in the final movie.
“Effects Animation: Firebird Erupting” lasts for three minutes and nine seconds and closely examines the creation of one segment of the film. It gives us a very nice demonstration of how all the layers of art are added to give the final product depth.
Another “Production Progression Demonstration” appears that works exactly the same way as the one found during the discussion of “Piano Concerto #2.” The only difference is that each portion of this one runs for 50 seconds.
“Design” gives us stills of “Visual Development” (18 frames of art) and 53 “Color Keys”. “Character Designs” show sketches for these participants: Elk (11), Sprite (35), Firebird (16). “About the Music” provides four screens of text.
Unlike the original Fantasia, the update featured more than one narrator. This aspect is discussed in THE INTERSTITIALS. To no one’s surprise, we begin with a five minute and five second featurette called “Creating the Interstitials” and then move on to an “Early Concept Story Reel”. This depicts an alternate idea for the interstitials that would have used a single narrator who interacts with an animator named “Crystal”. The one minute and 57 second program demonstrates how this union would have worked.
The “Proof of Concept Test” uses CGI test figures to examine how well the interstitials would come together with other elements. It lasts two minutes and 52 seconds and gives us another good look at more unused ideas.
“Mickey Meets the Maestro” runs for three minutes and three seconds and gives us a nice demonstration of how the Mouse appears to interact with conductor James Levine. I found nothing revelatory about the shots but it was fun to see the raw shots of their interaction.
“Design” features the usual elements. “Visual Development” gives us 12 pieces of conceptual art, and we also get seven “Color Keys”.
More Features wraps up the material for F2K. The “Orchestra Demonstration” gives us a primitive mixing board. It lets you combine percussion, brass, woodwinds and strings for Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony”. It’s a cool idea and is generally fun. The one drawback other than the limited interactivity: the sound is synthesized and isn’t the recorded orchestral music. As such, the audio seems kind of cheesy. Still, it’s an entertaining way to spend a few minutes.
As with the section for the original Fantasia, this one offers a bunch of “Biographies”. We find entries for Roy Disney, producer Don Ernst, conductor James Levine, and sequence directors Don Hahn, Hendel Butoy, Pixote Hunt, Eric Goldberg, Francis Glebas, and Gaetan and Paul Brizzi. All of the participants receive decent little listings that I found interesting.
Finally, “Trailers and TV Spots” closes out this area. We find two trailers - both for the film’s IMAX exhibition - and four TV ads; all of the latter also tout the IMAX run. I find it somewhat odd that none of the promos for the film’s standard theatrical engagement appear, but I won’t lose any sleep about it.
I don’t know if it counts as an “Easter egg”, but if you go the upper middle of the DVD’s main menu, you can access a list of “DVD Credits”. The “Anthology” also includes a decent booklet. That package features a nice listing of all the supplements plus it gives us a nice overview text from Roy Disney. If that’s not enough, we also find coupons for a variety of different products like batteries.
As I relate in my separate reviews of both Fantasia and Fantasia 2000, these films are far from being my favorite pieces of Disney animation, but they nonetheless have quite a lot to offer and are generally solid movies. Though neither release is perfect, Disney have done a very strong job with the DVDs, and while the individual issues of the two films offer a lot of good materials, this three-disc “Fantasia Anthology” is definitely the way to go.
The inclusion of the third DVD - the supplement-packed “Fantasia Legacy” - easily warrants the minor additional charge involved. (On their own, the two separate DVDs retail for about $60, while the “Anthology” lists for $70; as always, the inevitable discounts will reduce those prices.) All animation fans will want to own both Fantasia and Fantasia 2000, and this terrific boxed set of “The Fantasia Anthology” is a must-have package.