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Groundbreaking on several counts, not the least of which was an innovative use of animation and stereophonic sound, this ambitious Disney feature has lost nothing to time since its release in 1940. Classical music was interpreted by Disney animators, resulting in surreal fantasy and playful escapism. Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra provided the music for eight segments by the composers Tchaikovsky, Moussorgsky, Stravinsky, Beethoven, Ponchielli, Bach, Dukas and Schubert. Not all the sequences were created equally, but a few are simply glorious, such as "Night on Bald Mountain", "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and "The Nutcracker Suite". The animation ranges from subtly delicate to fiercely bold. The screen bursts with colour and action as creatures transmute and convention is thrust aside. The painstaking detail and saturated hues are unique to this film, unmatched even by more advanced technology. --Rochelle O'Gorman
More ambitious in scope than any of its other animated films (before or to come), Disney's 1940 feature Fantasia was a dizzying, magical and highly enjoyable marriage of classical music and animated images. Fantasia 2000, originally made for the IMAX large-screen format, features some breathtaking animation and storytelling, and in a few spots soars to wonderful high points, but it still more often than not has the feel of walking in its predecessor's footsteps as opposed to creating its own path. A family of whales swimming and soaring to Respighi's The Pines of Rome is magical to watch, but ends all too soon; a forest sprite's dance of life, death and rebirth to Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring too clearly echoes the original Fantasia's Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria sequence. But when it's on target, Fantasia 2000 is glorious enough to make you giddy. Hans Christian Andersen's "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" is a perfect narrative set to Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2, and Donald Duck's guest appearance as the assistant to Noah (of the Ark fame) set to Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance marches is a welcome companion piece (though not an equal) to The Sorcerer's Apprentice, the one original Fantasia piece included here. The high point of Fantasia 2000, though, is a fantastic day-in-the-life sequence of 1930s New York City set to Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and animated in the style of cartoonist Al Hirschfeld; it's a perfect melding of music, story and animation style.
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