Disney’s glorious “Fantasia” and its sequel, “Fantasia 2000” are out for a limited time in a spectacular 4-DVD blu-ray package.
Considered a failure on its original release, “Fantasia’s” eight-part combination of images and music is now indisputably a classic. Musicologist Deems Taylor explains that there are three kinds of music: music that paints a picture, music that tells a story, and “absolute music,” or music for music’s sake, and then shows us all three. Highlights include Mickey Mouse as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, whose plan to save himself from a little work by enchanting a broom to carry the buckets of water gets out of control, the Nutcracker Suite’s forest moving from fall into winter (with the adorable mushroom doing the Chinese Dance), Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, with characters from Greek mythology celebrating at a festival and seeking shelter from a storm, and the Dance of the Hours, with ostrich and hippo ballerinas dancing with gallant (if overburdened) crocodiles.
It concludes with the scary Night on Bald Mountain followed by the dawn’s Ave Maria. The movie is perfect for blu-ray — it’s as though we can finally see the colors the way the artists could only dream of. The flying Pegasus family soars through the sky, the thistles kick like Cossacks to the Russian dance, the dinosaurs lumber to the Rite of Spring. This is one of the greatest movies in cinematic history, groundbreaking and timeless.
And there’s more. Disney planned another musical segment designed by famous surrealist artist Salvador Dali, who came out to the Disney studio for eight months to work on it. But it was canceled due to financial setbacks at the company at the time, and Disney always regretted that it was not completed. It has become a legend, much speculated about and sought after. This splendid set includes Destino, with Roy Disney at long last completing Dali’s original vision, 58 years after he began it.
Roy Disney also supervised “Fantasia 2000,” the sequel, which includes a charming Al Hirschfeld-inspired Manhattan saga set to George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and a wildly funny flamingo/yo-yo mix-up (more like a pile-up) to the music of Saint-Seans.
Fantasia/Fantasia 2000 is a genuine family treasure, guaranteed to inspire and entertain all ages. Grab it while you can.
I enjoy writing short pieces for the Washington Post’s On Success page, and one of the most fun was today’s answer to the question of when I knew what career(s) I wanted. The answer to that one surprised even me.
One of my all-time favorite movie moments is in the original “Fantasia” (and included in “Fantasia 2000” as well), the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” sequence when Mickey Mouse, as the trainee working for a powerful wizard, decides to try a little magic himself and enchant a broom so it will carry the heavy buckets of water from the well and give him a break. Things do not go well. The music is by Paul Dukas, inspired by a poem written by Goethe that begins:
Good! The sorcerer, my old master
left me here alone today!
Now his spirits, for a change,
my own wishes shall obey!
what to say and do,
with my powers of will I can
do some witching, too!
The forthcoming live action “Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” starring Nicolas Cage and Jay Baruchel will re-create that famous scene and here the film-makers give us a glimpse of the care they put into getting it right.
Here’s another look at the fabulous original.
Just to make things confusing, the short film that precedes “Toy Story 3” is called “Day & Night” and the big summer movie opening up on Wednesday is called “Knight and Day.” One is a 3D animated short (more about that coming soon) and the other is a big Hollywood extravaganza with glamorous stars and locations and lots of chase scenes and explosions. Got it?
The other movie opening up this week is “Grown Ups” with Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Rob Schneider as childhood friends who get together as adults with their families. The trailer includes both drug and potty jokes as well as an extended sequence with a character swinging on a rope, slamming into a tree, and falling down hard. So, seems like they’re not taking that title too seriously.