Monday, October 10, 2011

Why Fantasia Should Be Seen, Rather Than Read About.

The Good: Music, Most of the animation, Concept, DVD/Blu-Ray bonus features
The Bad: Moments of animation, Introductions.
The Basics: Fantasia is an exceptionally simple concept film that is largely well-executed, though it is far from flawless.

While the rest of the world is off watching their Blu-Rays of The Lion King, today my wife and I took in Fantasia. Rather irritatingly, I preordered The Lion King months ago so it would arrive by today, which is our two and a half year wedding anniversary. It still has yet to arrive. Fortunately, I had a backup plan, which was presenting my wonderful wife with a Blu-Ray set she had been very eager for: Fantasia / Fantasia 2000. Fantasia seems only to be available on Blu-Ray as part of this four pack, which is fine with me because my wife wanted Fantasia 2000 as well. So, today, to celebrate two and a half years of marriage (the longest either of us has been married!), I gifted her a movie she was very much looking forward to seeing and the time together to watch it.

Yeah, I'm padding out my review with additional, irrelevant, information. There is a reason for that. Fantasia is a concept film and I'm finding it mostly pointless to write about. To clarify, I am one of the rare reviewers who tries to call it as it is and a concept doesn't win it for me. Just because a studio attempts a concept film does not guarantee that the concept works. So, for example, I understand 2001: A Space Odyssey, but I also know the film is boring.

Fantasia is a concept film that predates music videos, but the basic concept is putting music to moving images, in this case with classical music. Disney animation puts images to "Toccata And Fugue In D Minor, BMV 565" (Bach), "The Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a" (Tchaikovsky), "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (Dukas), "Rite Of Spring" (Stravinsky), "Symphony No. 6 (Pastoral) Op. 68" (Beethoven"), "Dance Of The Hours" (Ponchielli), "A Night On Bald Mountain" (Mussorgsky), and "Ave Maria, Op. 52 No. 6" (Schubert) and the almost two hour concert is pretty incredible.

The concert is a mix of the live action concert and the animated movie that puts dancing hippos, Mickey Mouse as a young wizard, and centaurs on the screen. Dinosaurs live and die and the film has fragmented sense that separates each piece, save the "A Night On Bald Mountain" and "Ave Maria" mash-up. What works? The animation is largely good and the Blu-Ray has cleaned up the images exceptionally well. The sound is exceptionally clean and the visual is equally stellar.

What doesn't work are the places the film could not be cleaned up. There are a few tiny skips, some moments when the animation is clearly done by different teams and a few weird places where things happen like the chimes players knocking into the chimes while setting up. Why was that kept in the movie? Moreover, it is irksome that the narrator explains itself so much. Before each segment, the narrator tells the viewer exactly what is coming and that is thoroughly unnecessary.

On Blu-Ray, there are informative commentary tracks, art galleries and multiple sneak previews. Fantasia is pretty incredible, but discussing it seems pointless; it is a simple concept and it excels at realizing that concept.

For other Disney animated films, please visit my reviews of:
Toy Story 3
A Christmas Carol
The Incredibles
Monsters, Inc.
The Little Mermaid
Lady And The Tramp
The Sword In The Stone
Sleeping Beauty


For other movie reviews, please check out my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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