5 Fundamental Differences Between Fantasia and Fantasia 2000

Via: Collider

It has been well noted how one of the greatest animated film ever made managed to spawn a sequel many, many years later in the form of Fantasia 2000. What has not been well noted are the fundamental differences between that film and the original.

1. The Opening Sequence

Not to denounce the choice of music (Beethoven’s 5th is a favourite of mine) but to focus instead on the animation. In the original, it was animation meant to represent the music visually, with plenty of clouds and streams of light.

The sequel instead took the same visual concept and turned it into a story.

Such a move has the effect of distracting the user from the music and the visuals as they try to determine who the characters are, why they are flying about and why are they being attacked. At the end of the day they are a distraction that draws the viewer away from the attempt to link artistically the music and and the animation.

2. The Colours

The original was full of bright, vivid colours that literally jumped off the screen. In Fantasia 2000, the Pines of Rome segment has by far some of the dullest and flattest colours I have ever seen. At one point I was straining to make out the whales from the background.

While some segments have undoubtedly vivid colours (the yo-yoing flamingos comes to mind), on the whole, the sequel contains much more muted colours and palettes than the original. It is, as a result, less exciting, less eye-popping and ultimately just a wee bit less interesting.

Plenty of wacky cartoons on TV manage to look extremely vivid, Fantasia 2000 simply lacks a similarly broad palette.

3. The Use of Multiple Hosts

The original had a single host, Deems Taylor, which had a purpose as that film was intended to be a roadshow where audiences of the day would have expected a single host for the evening. The sequel uses multiple hosts.

This has the effect of making the film seem like a seminar or presentation. A single host would have unified the viewing experience and provided some continuity between segments. With multiple persons and multiple personalities filling the space, there is a tendency for the film to lurch at each scene as each presenter has a different style.

4. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Yes, it is in both films and is perhaps the most recogniseable segment of the original and that is the difference. Mikey’s appearance in the original had a reason (he needed a new vehicle in the years rolling up to the Second World War) whereas it’s inclusion in the sequel appears to be an attempt to provide some validity to that film’s very existence.

What irked me more than anything though, is that the soundtrack appeared to be re-recorded, at least to my ears, although I was listening to it through some old speakers. Besides the dubious sound, they also re-recorded Mickey’s voice for his interaction with Igor Stravinksy. Unforgiveable perhaps, but ultimately a poor choice for a supposedly ‘new’ film.

Another aspect of the sequence’s inclusion is that it steals the thunder of Donald Duck, who is given his own sequence to Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance and must content himself to remain in the shadow of his friend instead of in the limelight where he should be.

5. The Conclusion

The original end sequence was very much a statement on the constant battle between good and evil and the ultimate triumph of good over evil. It is exceedingly spiritual on many levels and has been noted for the many profound effects it has on viewers.

The sequel is also in a natural setting and on a mountain, but instead it focuses more on the battle between natural forces in their fight to control the landscape. As admirable as this is, it does allow for a certain amount of disconnect from the audience. It is about nature, not about us, and I can’t help but feel that a certain amount of the meaning is lost in that gap.

What if Pixar Made the Next Fantastia?

The other day, I had a bit of a back and forth conversation on Twitter with Mr Sam Levine about Fantasia, in which he mentioned pitching a sequence featuring Gustav Holst’s suite “The Planets”. Afterwards it got me thinking about the whole concept of Fantasia and why it remains so popular even after all these years.

My personal opinion is that it epitomises the best of animation as an expressive artform. Now I don’t meant to say it has the best animation, that’s a statement that requires some serious research and evidence to back up, which I don’t have the time for today. What I mean is that the music forms the basis on which the animation is based, not the other way around, which is the way most films are scored these days. The result is a wonderfully complex series of sequences in which the animator is allowed a fair amount of creative license that is used to great effect. Does dialogue distract from the animation? Watch any animated show/film/etc with the sound off. Do you pay more attention to the character’s movements? I bet you do.

With the thought of seeing the film for the first time in a few years (since it’s coming out on DVD) as well as seeing Fantasia 2000 for the first time, it got me thinking: What if Pixar made the next Fantasia?

We all know that Pixar makes good movies (I know it too, in difference to my recent comments over on Cartoon Brew) and while their writing team has been given a ton of credit for their slate of films, the animation crew seems to be in their shadow to a certain extent. A film like Fantasia would be a wonderful opportunity to give them a chance to flex their creative muscles.

In comparison, Disney was at a similar stage when he made the original. Here he was, an established animation studio that had won critical and commercial success who was looking for a vehicle to showcase the latest in technology, which at the time included stereo sound and technicolour (yes, that had been around for almost a decade but I dare you to name more than a few, colour, World War II films).

Does Pixar need a film to showcase all their creative skills? No, not really, they already do that in almost every film they release. Would I still like to see them do it? Absolutely! CGI is in desperate need of something to show of the animation itself and not just the design or the backgrounds.

The realities of the movie business today mean that a Pixar Fantastia is unlikely to happen, which is a wee bit of a shame really, since the original is still immensely popular. I would not, however, rule it out altogether.