Originally conceived as an elaborate Mickey Mouse short (only to blossom into a 2-hour feature film), Fantasia is one of the most ambitious movies ever, animated or otherwise, with its perfect marriage of classical music and animation (something that began with Disney's Silly Symphonies in 1929 and would continue to appear in Disney and Warner Bros. cartoons well after Fantasia's release in 1940). However, the film was a commercial and critical failure for the Disney studio, not picking up steam until the '60s, when it was a popular choice for college students (via 16mm prints) as a "head" film.
However, the film hasn't been treated well at all despite being popular for the past 30-40 years. Firstly, the film's dynamic "Fantasound" soundtrack (which was an optical surround-sound soundtrack printed on a separate 35mm reel from the actual video portion of the film) quickly deteriorated, and was eventually transferred to a vastly inferior magnetic tape (which has become garbled as that too has begun to decay). Additionally, Fantasia was re-edited after the initial roadshow version had run its course in an effort to increase the film's popularity with filmgoers in 1940. And finally, the Pastorale Sequence was sloppily edited in the late '60s in order to remove the black centaurettes who serve their white companions.
With this in mind, there was much hope in 2000 for a fully restored Fantasia for the film's 60th Anniversary (and the release of the sequel, the excellent Fantasia 2000). Hyped as being fully restored and uncut, it seemed as if Fantasia would finally be seen as it was supposed to be once again.
However, the Pastorale sequence remained edited, and the Deems Taylor segments were redubbed by veteran voice actor Corey Burton. While the latter change is understandable (since the audio for the expanded segments has come up missing), the former is quite disturbing, particularly since Fantasia is best viewed in an academic environment-which is also the perfect place to discuss the (thankfully outdated) social stereotypes involved in the Pastorale sequence. Given this editing, it's impossible to ecommend this DVD. However, given that Fantasia is such a vital part of Walt Disney's legacy (and also about to return to the studio vaults until as late as 2010), it's hard to imagine that anyone could hold off from buying this altered version of Fantasia before it gets discontinued.