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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Fantasia / Fantasia 2000' (Four-Disc Blu-ray/DVD)
(James Levine, Steve Martin, Leopold Stokowski, Ralph Grierson, Kathleen Battle, et al / 4-Disc DVD+Blu Ray / NR / 2010 / Disney)

Overview: Walt Disney's animated musical masterpiece is an extravaganza of sight and sound-now brilliantly restored for the first time ever in high defi nition! Blu-ray technology fi nally allows you to experience Fantasia-and Fantasia 2000, the triumphant classic it inspired-the way Walt envisioned! Plus, for the first time ever on Blu-ray, experience the 2003 Academy Award®-nominated animated short Destino-the extraordinary collaboration between Walt Disney and legendary artist Salvador Dali!

DVD+Blu Ray Verdict: The masterpiece FANTASIA remains important on several levels. From conception to execution, Fantasia is a Disney studio venture into the unknown that has endured the test of time. Just as important, it was and remains an American masterpiece. It incorporates avant guard imagery and technological innovation that brought classical music to a new standard of family entertainment.

This was the first motion picture to utilize stereophonic-ish surround sound which in fact holds up remarkably well in comparison to modern Dolby soundtracks. Books and many scholarly articles have been written over the decades about Fantasia, so you certainly don't need further illumination from me.

This film was conceived with with the conviction that Fantasia was and would remain a work in progress. In the early 1980's the film was released with a new digital sound track created from scratch. The result was mixed since the original track, while not exactly "high fidelity" had a certain charm that could not be duplicated no matter how brilliant the orchestral performance.

Enter into the scene, FANTASIA 2000. True to Disney's original mandate that the film should continually reinvent itself with state of the art exhibition technology, 2000 is a worthy addition to Disney's ongoing "work in progress". Shot in the IMAX format and incorporating new digital animation, FANTASIA 2000 represented the pinacle of Film and Sound art as it was at the beginning of the 21st Century.

Addressing many of the thoughts noted throughout the many years since this release first hit the big screen, it should be noted that racism was simply a part of the international humor of its day. No offense was intended, at least not by the Disney Studio. In fact, FANTASIA was rather gentle in its use of stereotypes. Works of Walter Lang (Woody Woodpecker), Warner Brothers (Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs) and Max/Dave Fleicher (Betty Boop antics) were far more offensive by todays standards.

The only FANTASIA that I have ever seen had one questionable moment in portraying black centaurettes as zebras. The scene was cute then and clever even today. I have never seen the notorious "Sunflower" seqence. I imagine it is as offensive today as it was mainstream in the era of "Amos and Andy". This rather tasteless humor was never mean-spirited or hateful. Disney was niether a hate-monger or a bigot any more than Al Jolson in blackface. I think that to focus on this one issue dismisses the overall wonder that FANTASIA was and remains.

The Blu ray disc of Fantasia 2000 is stunning. So is the 1942 original. Since the original 35mm release had mediocre film grain and cell artifacts p we can view the Blu Ray release as a vintage old film presented in High Definition. Whimsically, the first run prints of the film never looked as good as its digitally enhanced counterpart. Nevertheless, a collection of both films in the ultimate reproduction format(s) is simply a continuation of Disney's concept. One day I have no doubt that we will see a 3-D installment.

If these films can fill your home with brilliant symphonic music, then it is worth the cost of admission on that point alone. 2000 will give your Hi Def screen a real workout. As a collection, this set should be seen as a must-have for any serious Blu-ray library. [LS] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

BD Bonus:
• 2003 Academy-Award Nominated Short Destino (Destino Rated PG)
• Feature length documentary Dali & Disney: A Date With Destino explores the relationship of Disney and Dali and how this piece came to fruition 50 years years after its inception
• The Schultheis Notebook: A Disney Treasure - newly discovered detailed Fantasia production notes shed light on special effects wizardry
• Disney Virtual Vault - BD Live feature
• Musicana - Walt's inspiration for a sequel
• Disney Family Museum - Explore the new Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, California with Walt's daughter Diane Disney-Miller
• Interactive Art Gallery
• Audio commentaries
• Disney View

DVD Bonus:
• Musicana - Walt's inspiration for a sequel
• Disney Family Museum - Explore the new Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, California with Walt's daughter Diane Disney-Miller
• Audio Commentaries