Friday, December 24, 2010

Fantasia 2000

When I first heard of Fantasia 2000 over a decade ago, I wasn't sure what it really was. A sequel? A remake? An update? It turns out to mostly be the first one, thought there's a whiff of the third in there as well. It basically recreates the formula of the original film, with various animated segments interspersed with a bit of live action that tell their stories exclusively through imagery and accompanying classical music. They reuse "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", the segment with Mickey bringing a broomstick to life, because I guess it wouldn't be Fantasia without it. But besides that it's all new, and includes some music that's very familiar, like "Rhapsody in Blue" and "Pomp and Circumstance", and other pieces that are more obscure but no less enjoyable. Each segment is also introduced by a celebrity for some reason, something the original didn't feel the need to do, and while having them there doesn't really take much away from the film, it seems unnecessary when the original just let the pieces speak for themselves.

Comparing the actual film to the first is a bit difficult, because the original is so ingrained with my childhood. I remember it as one of my most frequently rewatched VHS tapes, and I found captivating, funny, and even terrifying in places. And what's here just doesn't have that impact. It's very nice to look at, with some very good hand drawn animation and also some computer generated elements that seem integrated pretty well for the time. And the music is really nice, and well performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. It's just hard to appreciate it as much when you're not a kid and experiencing the same sort of thoughts while watching it. My favorite segment is based on the previously mentioned "Rhapsody in Blue", which is itself an incredible piece of music, and it's animated in the style of Al Hirschfeld cartoons. It feels like a classic Chuck Jones short or something, and is possibly the purest piece of creativity in the whole movie. The rest are generally pretty good, although using Donald Duck to prop up a segment seemed kind of forced when you already had Mickey and the original was so strong with him as the only recognizable face. It's not a bad showcase of animation at all, I just don't see it as having the same potential impact for anyone watching it. Like I said, I may be biased, but for anyone born before the turn of the century, who wouldn't be?

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