Fantasia 2000

In 1940 the Walt Disney animation company unleashed a bold new experiment, Fantasia, a collection of animated pieces inspired by classical music. Unlike say a Bambi or a Pinocchio this is a movie with no dialogue or traditional feature length narrative story. In a stunning display of craftsmanship and artistic achievement the animators listened to the music and created stories, sometimes retelling a fairy tale like The Sorceror’s apprentice or riffing on some goofball premise like dancing hippoes or mushrooms. At fantasia’s best moments it triumphs in bold flourishes, splashing abstract type shapes across the screen or depicting evolution and the rise and fall of the dinosaurs. My favorite is the night of the bald mountain king sequence in which a demonic demon comes out of the mountain and all the ghosts fly up, and then afterwards a whole bunch of people are marching along with candles I believe.

This film fantasia was Mr. Disney’s attempt at respectability for the Artform of the funny cartoons however everyone pretty much told him to go fuck himself on that one. The movie received poor reviews, was cut down to 81 minutes and used as a b-movie on double bills, and even 22 years later Igor Stravinsky described it as “unresisting imbecility.” But I mean the dude’s name is Igor how do you expect him to behave, go get me a dead body Igor you piece of shit.

Fantasia/2000Anyway it wasn’t until the 1960s that LSD hit the market and people were more willing to sit through the movie. Today many film academics and grown adults who watch cartoons everyday believe that Fantasia is the best of the Disney cartoons. They recognize the uniqueness of the concept, the way it respects the cartooning as an Artform and seeks to elevate its craft, as well as the fine work done by the animationists and the musicians on the many great sequences. However I think the whole idea of this being the disney movie they most enjoy to watch is a HUGE load of shit, i mean tell me do you have more fun watching the pinocchio movie or watching this fantasia. And how many times have you watched it all the way through without falling asleep, pal, seriously I’m asking.

Anyway it was with this new acclaim for the fantasia that roy disney, who I believe is Walt Disney’s uncle or brother or son or something related to him at least, suddenly “remembered” that they had always planned to release fantasia with new sequences. And that is what they did with the fantasia 2000 and here is my review.

Anyway this movie is very low on plot and characterization but has a lot of music. What this is about is a bunch of triangles that fly around, and they look like butterflies and flowers and then they look like bats. Then there are some flying whales and some sad people walking around New York having trouble and a flamingo with a yoyo. Then there is a flashback to part 1, where Mickey Mouse does magic and kills the shit out of a broom with a fucking ax! Which is crazy but I’m not sure what the relevance is here, there is nothing in there you need to know in order to understand what is going on in the sequel. This is basically a standalone with a whole different set of characters, you do not need to see the first one to understand what is going on.

The thing really gets rolling at the end when Donald Duck helps Noah to load all the animals on the boat, I guess so Mickey doesn’t ax them I’m not sure but this is the climax of the picture. This is basically a ripoff of the old titanic movie, except also the bible. Donald gets separated from his girl duck and they think each other are dead, but at the end they find each other and it is pretty sweet. Although the donald I remember is a total prick and this is kind of out of character I think it is the second best.

The best scene is the very end, which is reminiscent of the japanese piece the Princess Monononoke. A couple of europeans are responsible for this one and it really doesn’t look like the disney drawings. It is about a beautiful nature spirit gal who flies around spreading the nature. By this I mean flowers, trees, plants, etc. She flies around and dances always changing shape, sometimes she is a little nymph sometimes she stretches into a might pair of wings. There is so much detail in this drawings it is incredible and hypnotic, so many tiny lines. Then she faces down this firebird but she survives and she is made of ashes and then she renatures the world again and there are millions of tiny flower petals shooting all around this gal and there are gooses everywhere although I think that may have been a flashback from the time I watched Fly Away Home on shrooms. But anyway it is really beautifully beautiful and it reminds you of the power of Positivity and the way the Universe is in control of all the elements and the powers of wind, water, etc. plus it is the one that most reminds me of what I like about Part 1 except taken to a new level of beautiful beautiful poetic beauty. whoah man let me get a glass of water.

There are real action parts where famous celebrities like Bette Midler and the dude from the jerk introduce the cartoons. I think the idea here is to keep the focus off of the animation so that disney can lower their wages for the animationists. It kind of makes it feel like a tv special instead of a movie when bette midler comes out and starts talking about the making of the movie. I have had enough of this postmodern self referential crap anyway, how about a movie without a movie within the movie please thanks bud.

The best idea about this movie is to release it for Imax which is a special movie theater with the biggest god damn screen you’ve ever seen. I guess the film is also big so it projects bigger and better or who the fuck knows, something about it is good, I guess. The screen is so huge and it goes so far down to the ground below you that as soon as it turns on, you feel like you are going to fall out of your seat and plummet to your death. I must admit I am not afraid of many things, I am not afraid of a severed arm or a Samoan with a butcher knife but there is one thing I am afraid of and that is heights. And spiders. But mostly heights and I gotta admit the Imax is fucking terrifying at first.

This was a good format to release Fantasia Part 2 in because I gotta be honest in a normal theater it would be fun but not nearly as impressive. According to my research they experiment with some technology and what not, using computer generated characters, coloring and effects. But for the most part the drawing still isn’t as impressive as the first one in my opinion. There is no consistency in the drawing style for the noah’s ark sequence, and Noah is not as noble as you expect for a biblical dude. Only the last sequence, the firebird, has the sense of awe inspiring spectacle that part 1 had with the dinosaurs and bald mountain.

Still, I would recommend fantasia part 2. It is not one of the better sequels however as a retread of the original it is a unique experience of artsmanship and music, not available anywhere else. Video or DVD could never recapture the magnificence of this theatrical experience, especially with the overwhelming visual and audio power of the Imax theater. And there is MUCH to admire here in my opinion – a colorful sequence based on the style of celebrity caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, the striking abstract triangles and firebird sequences, and even the weaker sections have subtle moments of acting or vivid, poetic images.

The whales are fuckin stupid though, jesus.

note: I don’t watch cartoons. the above review was written under duress

This entry was posted on Friday, December 31st, 1999 at 6:19 am and is filed under Cartoons and Shit, Family, Fantasy/Swords, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

13 Responses to “Fantasia 2000”

  1. Generally I can’t master report for blogs and forums, however need to point out that this specific write-up really pressured myself for you to do it! Your current publishing preference has become amazed us. Cheers, fairly awesome document.. get soundcloud shares

  2. Saw this bumped up by some very bizarrly worded bots.

    I remember liking this a lot, even the whales. This was the first movie I saw in IMAX so they were particularly impressive.

    One thing that is weird, this was a really big deal when this came out. I also remember the DVD 3 pack (the original, this one, and a documentary) being pretty popular. And now a seems, whenever I bring it up, that no one remembers it. Not in a vague can’t remember the details sense, but more a never even knew it existed sense.

    Oh well. Hope they do another one at some point. Maybe 2050.

  3. The Fantasia movies don’t get enough credit for being animation “for adults”, but in the more heady sense, not in the “Haha, tits and violence and maybe jokes about Jews” way of Adult Swim and co.

    Let’s be honest, I don’t know many kids, past me included, who actually are able to sit through these. They you fun adventures and cartoon slapstick, Mickey fighting walking brooms, dancing hippos and Donald Duck on Noah’s ark, but then it’s just all classic music without dialogues, more artsy than fun.

    Don’t get me wrong. As an adult animation fan I really like them. But if I had to entertain one or more kids for around 2 hours, I would pick something else.

  4. The first FANTASIA was unavailble for a long time, never aired on TV and never came out on VHS.

    My mother was a big fan of it, and I heard a lot about it growing up. Then, one day when I was in about 5th grade….it came out.

    My Mother bought the tape, and showed me it. I can’t remember what I made of it…but I liked it. Liked it enough anyway. I liked the cool experiemental skits quite a bit.

    I don’t think I ever watched it again, though I have been meaning to. I have in my adulthood become a huge fan of experimental films, especially seeing them screened in the weird hole in the wall venues they tend to be screened in. The original FANTASIA is one of those very few times that brand of experimental filmmaking has leaked into the mainstream (and actually pre-dated a lot of it).

    Oh I love the ADULT SWIM stuff big time. That goes pretty heavy into the avant-garde as well, especially their stand alone shorts. All their shows are so short it seems like a block of sketches rather than individual shows. Kind of like a really warped SNL, or….FANTASIA. Probably my favorite is YOUR PRETTY FACE IS GOING TO HELL (not animated but whatever). It’s really wild…and there’s some truly funkified rubbery creature designs as well. And as a guy who frequents avant-garde establishments regularly….similar to FANTASIA in its day….ADULT SWIM actually has a lot of stuff right on the cutting edge of it!

  5. Nah, I’m not completely anti-ADULT SWIM. They gave us after all THE VENTURE BROS and it seems like a cool playground for young cartoonists and filmmakers to let their freak flag fly. I just used them as an example for popular lowest common denominator “adult” cartoons. Probably a bit undeserved in retrospect, although they aren’t completely innocent of these tropes.

  6. I always really loved this one. Even when it came out it seemed to get shit on by the elite claiming ‘it was a dumber and less artful version of FANTASIA.’ Since then it’s faded from pop-culture except to occasionally be used as an odd deep-cut jab of the ‘What were they thinking!?’ variety.

    My heart is big enough for both FANTASIAs and I am disappointed that this one also failed to spawn a series.

    RE: adult swim. I’m not a big fan of most of the original content on there but I’m okay with it. As CJ said, it gave us VENTURE BROS. at least and a few other high-minded titles.

  7. FANTASIA 2000 was in fact the very first movie I ever watched on DVD.

  8. Such a weird movie to keep getting the bot treatment.

    Pretty sure this was my first IMAX as well. Quite a lot of interesting stuff on this in the DISNEY WAR (It was Roy Disney’s dream project, Eisner and Katzenberg were “less interested”)

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