The Blu-ray Disc™ two-movie collection special edition contains four discs: the landmark film "Fantasia" (1940) and "Fantasia 2000," each on a Blu-ray Disc platter, and the two films each on DVD platters. Both Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 offer classic musical numbers brilliantly married to animated segments that enhance the musical experience. Fantasia 2000 offers such enduring musical pieces as Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite," Saint-Saëns' "Carnival Of The Animals," Shostakovich's "Piano Concerto No. 2," George Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue," Respighi's "Pines Of Rome," and Beethoven's "Symphony No. 5." Each of the pieces include an introduction by well-known faces such as Steve Martin, Itzhak Perlman, Bette Midler, James Earl Jones, Quincy Jones, Penn & Teller, and Angela Lansbury. For those who have not enjoyed the classic original "Fantasia," it offers delightful animated segments, with dancing mushrooms, a hippo in a passe de deux with a crocodile, ethereal fairies, and that everlovin' mouse, Mickey; all set to the beautiful and inspiring music of Bach, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Moussorgsky, Beethoven, and others. This "Fantasia" is the restored roadshow version—a series of eight animated musical compositions. The first movie with a multichannel stereophonic soundtrack, and one of the greatest work of animated art. (Gary Reber).
Special features include commentary by Disney Historian Brian Sibley; commentaries with Executive Producer Roy E. Disney, Conductor James Levine, Animation Historian John Canemaker, and Scott McQueen, manager of film restoration; commentary with interviews and story note re-creations by Walt Disney, hosted by John Canemaker; the Disney Family Museum tour; Disney View, which allows the user to expand their viewing experience of Fantasia beyond the original aspect ratio of the film by filling otherwise dark edges of the screen with beautiful custom paintings by Harrison Ellenshaw; The Schultheis Notebook: A Disney Treasure—an in-depth look at a detailed log created by Herman Schultheis, an effects man on Fantasia; an interactive art gallery and screensavers; "Musicana"—Walt's Inspiration For A Sequel; the "Dali & Disney: A Date With Destino" documentary; commentaries from the Fantasia Legacy Collection; and BD-Live functioinality.
Two discs—the 60-year-old Fantasia, presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, and the digital-to-digital 1.85:1 Fantasia 2000—are included in this anthology special edition. While the two films are completely different, Disney is to be applauded for the superb restoration and remastering efforts, which are depicted here as the faithful reproduction to date. The 1080p AVC picture quality is stunning, with brilliant color fidelity. Blacks are deep and solid throughout. Hand-painted cells and CG renderings are impressively illustrated and exhibit the animators' skills. Fantasia's hand-drawn cells are beautifully rendered, as well as Fantasia 2000's computer-generated imagery. The image quality for Fantasia 2000 is breathtaking, exhibiting sharp and detailed animation, with an excellent sense of dimension. Fly above and around a group of humpback whales breaching in the clouds in the "Pines Of Rome" segment. And the simple animation in "Rhapsody In Blue" is intriguing. The "Piano Concerto No.2, Allegro, Opus 102" segment is revealing of excellent "shadow delineation," as well as excellent detail. While the humorous "Carnival Of Animals, Finale" exhibits more simple animation, colors are rich and vibrant. While Fantasia 2000 was initially screened exclusively in IMAX® theatres, the film was composed for 1.85:1 projection, and this framing is preserved on the Blu-ray Disc. The imagery in Fantasia looks great for its age, particularly the wonderful "The Sorcerer's Apprentice." And viewers will be completely engulfed by the beautiful images and fantastic detail in the "Firebird Suite—1919 Version." Both transfers are generally pristine and free of objectionable artifacts. Both Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 look fantastic, and Disney presents us with a wonderful classic animated experience. Animation enthusiasts will be enthralled with the results. (Gary Reber)
"Fantasia" was released over time in different soundtrack configurations. The original release was premiered in New York in Disney's Fantasound Multichannel Sound (an early discrete three-channel stereophonic sound process, eventually expanded to eight channels developed by Disney sound engineers and played over five horn loudspeakers''three screen channels and two corner surround channels''and later adding three horns; one on each sidewall about halfway back from the stage, and one in the ceiling at about the center of the theatre), then re-released in monaural in 1947, and then re-released in 1956 in four-track stereo to accompany the 2.0:1 SuperScope widescreen frame. The film was re-released in 1982 with a completely new soundtrack recording of the film's music made in 16 bit digital stereo with Irwin Kostal conducting a studio orchestra. This version of the film has yet to be released on home video. copies of the original optical sound masters were made on magnetic sound film for the 1956 reissue and used here to restore the concept of Fantasound, though now presented in the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1-channel format. Other theatrical release were in 70 mm six-track and Dolby on 35 mm prints. Previously reviewed in Issue 46, both Dolby® Digital and DTS® Digital Surround™ 5.1-channel discrete soundtracks were offered for the Fantasia 2000 DVD, and as anticipated from our exclusive review of the samplings on the promotional DVD in Issue 42, what you will experience is excellent movie sound. Of course, the lion's share of the sonic presentation is music, but the experience of a wonderfully recorded orchestra within the expansive and immersive confines of a holosonic® listening space is absolutely wonderful. The remastering in DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1-channel sound is simply par excellent, with the added two channels positioned at 90-degree sidewalls, While some distortion is noticeable on Fantasia, no doubt to the soundtrack elements age, the tonal balance is perceptually neutral. Even during prominent moments, the audio is not overbearing. The presence of the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Leoold Stokowski in Fantasia and the Chicago Symphony conducted by James Levine in Fantasia 2000 within the listening space is just amazing, with a fullness and richness to the sonic character. And wonderfully you can experience the orchestras sitting in the center "sweet spot" The exemplary dynamics really do work to this soundtrack's advantage in rendering the orchestral performances. A prominent example can be found in Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite." For the classic section of the film, namely "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," the restoration effort is remarkable. There's plenty in the low-end, in both the main channels and the .1 LFE, but what is important to note is that what you'll be experiencing is deep bass that is of a musical nature, as opposed to the loudness and aggressiveness that often accompanies effects. Therefore, systems with full-range main loudspeakers and subwoofers with very good harmonic definition in the low-end will surely benefit from this soundtrack. The scattered passages of dialogue have been well produced, and have a natural-sounding presence. Sound effects, when utilized are effectively placed throughout the soundstage, with an open, wide presence that also enveloping with split surround engagement. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio simply sounds more natural, in particular from the tonality and fidelity of the string instruments. In addition, there is a slightly more compelling sense of resolution and texture within the spatial soundfield, and the low-end delivers with subtly yet noticeably greater depth. This is an absolute must-have for fans of the movie and those who favor great movie sound alike, and is an exemplary offering in terms of fidelity and the experience of surround sound. (Gary Reber/Perry Sun)