- Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 (Fantasia); 1.78:1 (Fantasia 2000)
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (Fantasia), English DTS-HD High Resolution 7.1 (Fantasia 2000), French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
- Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
- Rating: G; PG (Destino)
- Discs: 4 (2 x Blu-ray + 2 x DVD)
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
- Blu-ray Release Date: November 30, 2010
- List Price: $45.99
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
1940’s Fantasia was a labor of love for Walt Disney. A true spectacle of sound and vision that adhered to Walt’s ardent belief in animation as an elevated art form, the film would couple classical music with animated segments, and also, as per usual with Disney, push the boundaries of technology, introducing for the first time ever multi-channel sound in film and a click track for recording the score.
Fantasia’s length and budget grew to such a size that in its initial run it would not recover its cost and it has also been a sort of critical mixed bag. People love it or hate it. Put me in the camp of those who love it, even in this fully restored version that removes the black centaur character Sunflower from the Beethoven Pastoral Symphony sequence to avoid issues with racism. Despite that, this version of Fantasia is still highly enjoyable and filled with splendor.
It is a film that straddles the lines of fantasy and myth, with each of its vignettes a visual meditation on the music, marvelously performed by the inimitable Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Fantasia has given us stunning imagery, meticulously animated by masters of their craft, which has entered our popular consciousness, like the dancing hippos and Mickey Mouse as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Dukas).
I did not come to Fantasia as a child, but, rather, as a teen when I was also developing a great love and appreciation for classical music. As such, Fantasia, more than any other Disney film, immediately struck a chord with me, no pun intended. Its surreal imagery continues to stir deep emotions that touch the soul.
Walt always meant for Fantasia to be an ongoing process, an evolving event that would change every time it reemerged in theatres, with new pieces of animation and music added, a different film going experience every time in. He never did live to see that dream become a reality, but in 1999, the dream finally did come to life, when Disney released the long awaited “sequel” to Fantasia, Fantasia 2000.
Fantasia 2000 is coupled with Fantasia in this four-disc bundle. The updated return to the Disney classic sticks to the idea of animating orchestrated classics, bringing in James Levine and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to perform such pieces as Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Respighi’s Pines of Rome and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. This time, however, celebrities are brought in for the introductions to each segment, such as Quincy Jones, Penn and Teller, and Bette Midler.
Fantasia 2000 lacks some of the charm of the original, having a bit of an in-your-face commercialism that Fantasia just doesn’t have, but it is difficult to argue with the technical skill of the animation and the superb performance of the Chicago Symphony under Levine, particularly in The Pines of Rome and the closing performance, Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. It offers a fine level of quality entertainment for children and adults alike, and, of course, it still holds the classic Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment from the original film as well.
Both films are encoded at 1080p with the AVC/MPEG-4 codec. Fantasia is provided in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio with the option to play it back with Disney’s DisneyView feature that fills the left and right sides of the screen with themed artwork. Fantasia 2000 is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, except for its “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” sequence from the original Fantasia. Obviously, the newer Fantasia 2000 looks a bit more pristine and sharper in detail, but both of these films come to Blu-ray looking absolutely spectacular. Disney knows animation and they know how to bring animation to Blu-ray — I include their wholly owned company Pixar in that statement as well. These two films are no exception. The colors are vibrant, line art is clean and detailed — this is pure animated heaven and another reference release from the folks at Disney.
Both Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 are given brand-new 7.1 mixes. Oddly enough, however, the older Fantasia recording is provided with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio option while Fantasia 2000, the younger recording, is allowed only a lossy, DTS-HD High Resolution variety.
The newer, more dynamic recording of Fantasia 2000 with its wider frequency range would definitely have benefited from the full lossless encoding, but it still sounds very good nonetheless and shows the strength of the new high-bitrate lossy codec over older variants. The mix is also allowed a bit more aggressiveness, with a few moments where Mickey is panned around the room. Most of the time, however, it is a straightforward classical audience mix with lush amounts of ambience in the surround channels.
Fantasia’s lossless 7.1 mix offers a relatively wide soundstage given the older recording, but does sound a little dull in comparison. Still, it is relatively lush and dynamic given its age, and shows a little stereo panning in the front.
This set is loaded with wonderful supplements, the best of all being the marvelous Walt Disney/Dali collaboration Destino, finally making its way onto Blu-ray and a perfect coupling for both Fantasias. The wealth of audio commentaries and HD featurettes alone make this package well worth the money, but adding in the BD-Live driven DisneyVault feature loaded with animation art, storyboard sketches, trailers, and more, and this is just a boon for fans and collectors.
The supplements provided with this release are:
- Audio Commentaries:
- Audio Commentary by Disney Historian Brian Sibley
- Original DVD Commentary, Interviews, and Story Note Recreations by Walt Disney. Hosted by John Canemaker.
- Original DVD Commentary by Executive Producer Roy E. Disney, Conductor James Levine, Animation Historian John Canemaker, and Film Restoration Manager Scott MacQueen.
- Disney Family Museum (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:04.05) — A brief promo of the Walt Disney Family Museum in California.
- The Schultheis Notebook: A Disney Treasure (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:13.51) — A look at two artifacts from Fantasia, a notebook containing notes between Disney and Stokowski, and the Schultheis notebook, containing notations on the special effects and animation that was to form the basis of Fantasia.
- Interactive Art Gallery
- DisneyView — Watch Fantasia with theme-inspired artwork to fill the sides of the screen rather than just black bars.
- DVD — Standard definition DVD
- Audio Commentaries:
- Original DVD Commentary by Executive Producer Roy E. Disney, Conductor James Levine, and Producer Don Ernst.
- Original DVD Commentary by the Directors and Art Directors for Each Segment.
- Musicana (1.78:1; 1080p/24) — Walt’s inspiration for a sequel to Fantasia.
- Dali & Disney: A Date with Destino (1.78:1; 480i/60; 1:22.18) — This documentary tells the story of the making of Destino and why it took so long (1946 to 2003) to complete.
- Destino (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:06.31) — Have a look at the wonderfully surreal artistic collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali.
- Disney’s Virtual Vault — A BD-Live powered interactive feature that allows access to animation artwork, storyboard-to-film comparisons, trailers, TV Spots and more.
- DVD — standard definition DVD
The Definitive Word
Fantasia returns on Blu-ray in both original and 2000 iterations in spectacular form from Disney. This set simply sparkles and brings joy to my ears, eyes, and heart, and I venture to say that it will do the same for you as well. With the standard definition DVDs and the beautifully surreal Disney/Dali collaboration, Destino, included in the set as well, passing this up would be a huge mistake. Highly recommended.
Additional Screen Captures: