Originally presented in the Imax formant, Disney Studios is now re-releasing “Fantasia 2000” for a 4-week run in regular theaters. The classic update of “Fantasia,” contains the original segment, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” from the 1940 film, with seven new sequences, each introduced by diverse celebrities such as Steve Martin, Bette Midler, Itzhak Perlman, James Earl Jones, Penn and Teller, Quincy Jones, Angela Lansbury, and, of course, Mickey Mouse.
Selections include the opening “Symphony No. 5,” an abstract adventure, with a rhythm of color and motion used to tell a story of good versus evil. This is followed by “Pines of Rome,” a stunning three-dimensional, computer-generated visual of a herd of whales that miraculously take flight when a supernova explodes above their iceberg-laden habitat. “Rhapsody In Blue” is next – a mixture of the music of George Gershwin and the drawings of the legendary caricaturist Al Hirshfeld. “Piano Concerto No. 2, Opus 102,” is used behind the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Steadfast Tin Soldier.” “Carnival of the Animals” follows. This sequence provides the answer to the age-old question: What would happen if you gave a yo-yo to a bunch of flamingos?!
“Pomp and Circumstance” is played as Donald Duck assists Noah in bringing the animals aboard the ark, two by two. The film concludes with “Firebird Suite.” With death and rebirth as its theme, this musical segment personifies nature in the form of a sprite, who is summoned by a lone elk to restore a ravaged forest.
“2000” simply dazzles the senses. My favorite piece combines the sophisticated music of George Gershwin and the unmistakable linear style of Al Hirschfeld. “Rhapsody in Blue” is without question the quintessential sophisticated jazz piece of its time. Maybe of all time. And Hirschfeld’s whimsical view of people’s foibles is delightfully revealing. Together, with the narrative of diverse characters weaving in and out of each other’s lives during the course of their daily routines, these two masters of their perspective fields return the word erudite to storytelling. Another favorite is the touching segment with Donald Duck boarding animals to the music of “Pomp and Circumstance.” It is both funny and poignant as Donald and his lady fair, Daisy, are separated before the journey begins, only to be reunited by segment’s end. As a child, the magician in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” was a bit frightening to me. It is, however, not so much about magic as it is about a timid creature that wants to do his best. In the last segment, nature is personified in the form of an earth-mother nymph. However, this is just a parable about death and rebirth Fantasia 2000 is the most joyous movie conception of the year. Walt would be proud!