The Walt Disney Animation Studios has taken numerous risks with the films it has released. It was once thought that a feature-length animated film would never do well at the box office. Then Disney released “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and changed the game. In 1940, Disney took on a different kind of animation challenge with “Fantasia.” Nearly 60 years later, Disney revisited the concept with “Fantasia 2000.” While they are very similar, there’s also a lot of differences between the two. Let’s compare two of the most innovative films in the Disney canon.
“Fantasia” is a musical anthology film featuring eight animated shorts set to classical music conducted by Leopold Stokowski. The Philadelphia Orchestra performed the music for seven of the eight segments. It was first released as a theatrical roadshow in 13 cities across the United States in 1940 and 1941. The film received widespread acclaim from critics, but was a box office failure. Many have cited the effects of World War II cutting off the European market as a major reason for the film’s failure at the box office.
“Fantasia” featured Mickey Mouse’s first appearance in feature-length film in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” segment. But he still would not appear in a film with a feature-length narrative since the animated segments didn’t connect to each other. He would also make an appearance speaking to Stokowski during the intermission segment. His appearance here paved the way for his appearance in “Fun and Fancy Free” during Disney’s Wartime Era package films.
In 1999, the Walt Disney Animation Studios revisited the format and paid tribute to the original with “Fantasia 2000.” This updated take incorporated new pieces of music and new animated sequences. The only piece of the original “Fantasia” to reappear in “Fantasia 2000” is “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”
The animation style was different because the company had moved away from the hand-drawn cells required in 1940. By 1999, “Fantasia 2000” was animated digitally. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra stepped in to perform the music for six of the eight segments. And many of the segments were introduced by celebrities including Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Martin and Penn Jillette.
WHICH IS BETTER?
Which version is better is really up to each individual viewer. In my opinion, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is the best segment in either film. It makes complete sense that it was the only segment recycled for “Fantasia 2000.” I also find the “Night on Bald Mountain/Ava Maria” segments of “Fantasia” to be beautifully frightening. Chernabog shines as the representation of the devil. Those are great segments to watch. That means “Fantasia” has the two best segments of either film for me.
While “Fantasia” may have my two favorite segments of either film, the rest leaves a lot to be desired. I personally enjoyed the animation style and the music of every new “Fantasia 2000” segment over all of the rest of “Fantasia.” “Fantasia” may have been bold and innovative, but “Fantasia 2000” was actually entertaining. If I’m going to revisit one of these films, it’s “Fantasia 2000.”
What do you think about these two films? Do you love them both? Do you hate them both? Do you love one and not the other? Let us know.