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.Read more ›
I immediately realized that the voice of the narrator, Deems Taylor, whose wonderful and soothing voice spans the entirety of the movie, had been overdubbed with someone else's voice! Deems Taylor was a widely known and respected music critic in his time. He had a beautiful, deep sonorous and expressive voice. The sound of his voice was an essential part of the aural and musical magic of this film. Yet, the new owner's of Disney saw fit to overdub his voice with that of some squawky and squeaky sounding unknown, thereby ruining the entire film.
I did some research to find out why, in the name of "preservation", Disney studios would destroy this film in the way that they have. The reason, supposedly, was because they found old footage (which was NOT in the version we all knew and loved as kids) which they wanted to insert - but the audio on that obscure footage had been damaged. They felt they had to redub those voice overs. Fine. But then, in the process, they re-dubbed the entire film, even the parts that had not been damaged!
I understand, for historical interest, that some people might be interested in seeing the extra, obscure footage which had been edited out long ago , but that extra footage easily could have been put on a special features disc, not in the actual movie that millions of fans have come to know and love. This was a horrible decision by a studio which increasingly seems to have lost all sense of artistic taste and common sense. What a sad, sad disappointment.
Soon, I'll be buying a DVD recorder and I hope to preserve the original VHS version I have in that way.