I remember very distinctly being disappointed by Fantasia as a kid. There was so little story to it! I had a much vaguer impression that I had liked Fantasia 2000 better, and when I noticed it streaming on Netflix, I decided to investigate. At worst, I figured I could fast-forward any segments I didn’t like–and happily, I ended up watching everything!
Perhaps I wasn’t the only one who felt Fantasia lacked story, because Fantasia 2000 definitely went in that direction. Like the first film, the concept is animation set to classical music, except this one is far more plot-driven. The opening piece is abstract set to Beethoven, but it’s at least very pretty abstract…and then it’s stories all the way through.
I don’t quite understand the second segment’s flying humpback whales (maybe the dolphins told them the Earth was going to be destroyed to make way for a bypass?) but it’s still very entertaining, and “Pines of Rome” is beautiful music. “Rhapsody in Blue” gives us a visit to jazz-era New York, and we even get a retold fairy tale, Hans Christian Andersen’s “Steadfast Tin Soldier,” set to a piano concerto from Dmitri Shostakovich.
My three favorites all come right in a row. First it’s “The Carnival of Animals,” answering the age-old question, “What happens if you give a yo-yo to a flock of flamingos?” The flamingos’ ballet is beautifully timed to the music…and the one lone flamingo with his yo-yo, driving all his pond-mates crazy, is just so happy. The animators really do a beautiful job capturing emotion in a flock of birds with no dialogue!
This is followed by “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” lifted from the original (because it was the best one!) and then a very funny interim bit of Mickey trying to roust out Donald to appear in his segment. Donald and Daisy star in a retelling of Noah’s Ark, set to “Pomp and Circumstance.” Mostly it’s a heart-warming tale of star-crossed lovers (sort of), but I was also especially amused by the strange look Donald gave to a pair of more traditional ducks waddling onto the ark…
We finish the movie out with “Firebird Suite,” about a nature sprite who inadvertently unleashes a fire demon onto the forest. I wanted to like this one better than I did, but I think it harkened back to the original a bit more–there’s a premise, but not really a plot (other than springtime, destruction, recovery).
By being so much more story-focused, this becomes basically a silent animated movie. And it really works! It’s funny, engaging, and altogether much more to my preference than the original.
Buy it here: Fantasia 2000