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on January 14, 2003
Please becareful when buying this DVD. The package say it's uncut but it really isn't. Disney felt they needed to censor some scenes because they might offend some black people. I'm a black person and I'm more offended by Disney lying to me then the scenes. I hope someday in the future Disney will think I'm mature enough to own a real uncut version.
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on October 31, 2003
As a lifelong musician and artist, Fantasia has been one of my all time favorite movies since I first saw it in theaters as a child. My wife, knowing my great love for this movie, bought the DVD version for me as a birthday gift. When I put the DVD on, however, my excited anticipation quickly turned to depressed disappointment.
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.
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on January 2, 2004
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.
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on August 22, 2002
The quality and presentation of this restored version of FANTASIA is wonderful. Finally restored, unseen since the initial release, are the complete introductory sequences, including a chimes player's accident with his instrument, the orchestra applauding Mickey Mouse, and the orchestra shuffling out for the intermission. Even the original title card has been returned to its proper place, during the intermission. (Some of the narration was rerecorded due to original voice tracks being no longer available.) But there is CONSIDERABLE CONTROVERSY over the continued censorship of the "Pastorale" sequence. Circa 1969, the seemingly racist shots of a black centaurette (similar to Our Gang's "Buckwheat") attending on the white centaurettes were cut from the film. Allegedly, the 1980 release's new soundtrack covered up the clumsy edit. Subsequent releases to video have used optical tricks to remove the appearance of black centaurs. In this "restored" version, some of the optical edits are still glaringly obvious.
The film survives as a masterpiece of filmic art, and this presentation of a "politically correct, original version" (my description) is tempting. But Disney does this release, and all customers and fans, a disservice by inappropriately calling it a "restored" and "uncut" version, when in fact it is NOT the version that was seen in the 1940 road shows. Let your buying conscience be your guide, but consider the significance of buying an "uncut version" that is not uncut.
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on December 31, 2000
The 1940 movie "Fantasia" is awesome - one of the best
animated films of all time. A definite five star
Unfortunately, the DVD contains an altered version of the
movie. To make matters even worse, the advertising for the DVD is
deliberately false.
First of all, the DVD is being advertised as
being "uncut." This is not true. In reality, certain scences
that some people consider to be "offensive" have been
Secondly, the DVD is being advertised as having "the
original narration." This is also untrue. In reality, this DVD
contains a newly recorded narration.
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on June 22, 2004
I recently viewed the 60th anniversary edition of Walt Disney's "Fantasia", and I think that this is the closest we will ever come to seeing and hearing Disney's original vision for this film. This DVD Edition sets things right by incorporating all of Deems Taylor's spoken introduction and linking narratives into the film for the first time since the film's premiere in 1940.
If anyone has seen the 1990 restoration that appeared on video in 1991, they will know to what I'm referring. In that edition we only see Taylor's face in the opening prologue. Later on, we hear his comments as a voice-over to medium shots of the orchestra as they tune their instruments. Those players on the screen, by the way, are not members of the Philadelphia Orchestra: they are actually studio musicians. The music for Fantasia was pre-recorded months prior to shooting in the Academy of Music in Philadelphia.
The DVD presents what was then known as the "roadshow" version of Fantasia, which toured a limited number of cities upon it's initial release. The film's distributor, RKO Radio Pictures, balked at the added expense involved in setting up special amplifiers and speaker systems to accomodate the requirements for the Fantasound soundtrack. The decision was made to trim some of the film's length, beginning with altering the narrative links, but also making horrendous cuts in some release prints (indeed, some later prints do not even contain the Bach Toccata and Fugue sequence.) At one point, Disney decided to take matters into his own hands and handle the distribution of the "roadshow" version himself. That version differs from subsequent release prints in that Taylor's face is visible throughought every linking narrative; and that the blue title card appears at the start of the intermission that follows Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. In the 1990 restoration the title card appears at the start of the film. Also, the original release had no screen credits: special programs with those details were distributed to patrons. The DVD edition also doesn't have screen credits, but information about the animators is touched upon during the commentary by Rudy Behlmer, et al.
With regard to the soundtrack, the original optical, nine-track elements (which were mixed down to three tracks for the master print) have been missing for several decades. In 1955, the decision was made to transfer the extremely fragile and potentially unstable nitrate soundtracks to a four-track magnetic tape, because it was feared that the original tracks might not survive for much longer. This was done by playing the original tracks at RCA in Los Angeles and relaying the audio over telephone wires to the Disney Studios in Burbank. Unfortunately, during the transfer electronic hum and other noises ended up on the tape. Also, the telephone wires cut off at 8,000 Hz, so many viewers have never heard the full frequency and dynamic range that was capable utilizing the Fantasound system (which was a precursor of today's Dolby Surround-Sound.)
For the 1990 restoration, Terry Porter of YCM Labs had reportedly removed 2,000 clicks and pops from the four-track magnetic copy. Also, using technical data from the Disney Archives, he managed to replicate the mixing format of the original optical tracks; so that the sound would eminate from the left, right, front and rear speakers as originally planned.
I viewed my VHS copy of the 1990 restoration first, so that I could make my own comparisons. The 1990 edition suffers from too much use of noise-reduction software, which makes the violins and high wind instruments sound "glassy" and distorted. I also listened to my CD copy of the 1990 restored soundtrack album. The sound on the CD was a little cleaner and well defined, but the DVD has the most improved sound. One must remember that Fantasound was an experimental process. Optical tracks, in general, while offering an expanded dynamic and frequency range, were often quite noisy. All this means that what we hear is a 60-year-old recording that is by no means state-of-the-art by today's standards, but nevertheless remains impressive in its own right.
I don't remember seeing any negative racial depictions in the Beethoven Pastoral Symphony sequence, either in 1975 or in 1981 (which had a newly-recorded digital soundtrack). Then, again, Disney wouldn't have allowed anything like that in his films. The only questionable scene shows Bacchus entering with two nubile, African Zebra-type centaurettes. I can see how that might draw an unfavorable response from viewers. In fairness, however, they are not depicted doing anything of a derrogatory nature. They come in, toss some petals, and then they're gone... Some who reviewed the DVD edition claim that something was cut from the Beethoven sequence, but I can't imagine what that could be. Certainly the music itself has been truncated, but Stokowski did that only for dramatic reasons and to maintain story continuity. All of the music in Fantasia, except perhaps the Bach, was edited from the original scores in one way or another.
I said that the DVD itself rates only 4 stars. That is because the good folks at Disney are only offering the pencil tests, unused animation, and alternate music pieces as part of the 3-DVD "Legacy" set. The extras on the single DVD are good, but one wishes the archival materials had been included as a second disc.
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on September 2, 2014
We are very disappointed that it cannot be played on any DVD or Blueray player that we have. The reason for this is because it will not work on equipment from our region (except a computer in which one can change the Region setting). We have discovered that our Region is Region 1 and the disc was made for Region 2 (Italy). This is a detail all prospective purchasers need to know-WHICH REGION IS THE DISC MADE FOR?


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on June 24, 2013
I saw this movie a long time ago, as a teenager. It was just after WW2 and my mom took us kids to see it in a theatre in a neighbouring town. Music was and still is my principal hobby and I was very impressed with the images on the screen and how they fit with the wonderful classical compositions. Some of the more modern pieces were a bit above my head but they certainly fit the story. The majestic Bach Toccata and Fugue was particularly impressive. I learned to play the Toccata later in life but never got past the the first half of the Fugue. Mickey Mouse and Dukas I liked right of the bat, but Beethoven's sixth Symphony has delighted me forever as do his other symphonies. The production of Fantasia is beautiful, as is the sound, undoubtedly much enhanced with the benefit of our latest technology. Fantasia is definitely a sonic experience, something I compare to a live performance of a Tchaikovsky symphony by a major orchestra. This Walt Disney masterpiece will stay with me as long as I live.
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on June 12, 2004
The mixture of beautiful classical music and animated cartoon segments will probably not please devotees of each medium. The extended classical offerings of Bach and Tchaikovsky may not be what some viewers expect when watching this film, and may fret instead, waiting for the excellent "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", perhaps Mickey Mouse's most famous role. Mickey's battle with the broom bearing two buckets of water, later multiplied tenfold and then some into a forest of brooms is edgy and memorable. The orchestra preparations, narrative and intermission would be fine for a classical concert program but seems misplaced in an animated cartoon feature. "The Rite of Spring", with its version of life on earth before, during and after the dinosaurs ruled supreme is every bit as powerful as Mickey's misadventures with the broom and ax. The DVD is a handsome package of entertainment but the lengthy introduction of classical music and commentary may not be what children expect when they queue up to see this film.
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on March 22, 2004
"Fantasia" is the classic 1940 film that features the iconic "Sorcerer's Apprentice" short. "Fantasia" is a different sort of film from anything else that Disney Studios has ever produced. It is a very experimental film, and one that must have been very daring to release at the time (as it would still be so today). Rather than hold to a normal sort of storytelling, "Fantasia" is more like going to see an orchestral concert. "Fantasia" is a marriage between music and image, and this time around it is the images that are on screen that only support the music. The music is the focus of this film.
On one hand, this is a fascinating film. The music is conducted by Leopold Stowoski and we are taken on a journey of music with the images serving only to complement what we are hearing. Narrated by Deems Taylor, we are told what is going to happen in each segment and what music we are going to hear. We begin with the animation just being shapes and colors reacting to the music, giving us the impression of what we might see if we closed our eyes while listening to the music. When we move into the next song, we are given more definite images and then the music starts to tell an actual story.
There are several excellent selections in this film. "The Nutcracker Suite", "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", and "The Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria" are standout selections in my mind and are the ones that have stuck with me several days later. Despite this being an animated film, this isn't a movie for young children. They are likely to be scared by "The Night on Bald Mountain" and perhaps even by "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", and they may not understand or appreciate this film as it does not truly tell a story (like "The Lion King" does). The bottom line is this is a good film, and an interesting movie experiment, but on the same token it is not a movie for everyone. It is a symphony with animation.
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