Directed by: James Algar, Gaetan Brizzi etc.
Starring: (Narrators) Steve Martin, Itzhak Perlman, Quincy Jones, Bette Midler, James Earl Jones
When Walt Disney made Fantasia in 1940, his idea was that it would be an ongoing film project, with new segments added and old ones dropped over the years. What Disney hadn’t reckoned on was the fact that the film might be a flop and earn the ire of classical music purists and moviegoers alike. That, however, is pretty much what happened, causing Disney to drop the idea and stick to making movies that didn’t upset anybody. Then, of course, the tide turned—especially in the 1960s, when the colorful imagery was co-opted as psychedelica—and Fantasia found its audience. It would still not be till 2000—decades after Disney’s death—that an attempt was made to follow through on his original concept with this film, Fantasia 2000. The results were uneven at best, trite at worst and likely to appeal mostly to the “Disney can do no wrong” crowd. The idea of bringing in “humorous” celebrities to introduce the segments made the whole thing feel like an awards program. The centerpiece of the film was—guess what?—the already over-exposed “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” sequence from the original. The new segments ranged from the fairly awful opening with the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth (which looked like a screensaver, even in 2000) to the rather dull and dated “Pines of Rome” sequence, memorable for things like its flying whales. (That sequence, in particular, felt like a relic from 30 years earlier.) The best is the Al Hirschfeld-inspired take on Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” though Stravinsky’s “The Firebird” isn’t bad, even if if feels a little like an uneasy amalgam of the original’s “Night on Bald Mountain” and anime. Overall, though, I didn’t find it particularly satisfying—and considering that it cost about $80 million and grossed about $60 million, the likelihood of a subsequent update seems slim.
The Hendersonville Film Society will show Fantasia 2000 at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 27, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.