Fantasia is “Pines of Rome” by Ottorino Respighi,

Fantasia 2000 is
the animated musical sequel to its originator in 1940, Fantasia. It was released in December of 1999 and was produced by
Walt Disney Feature Animation and Walt Disney Pictures. Walt Disney’s brother,
Roy E. Disney was the helm of producing it and so was Donald W. Ernst, who
co-produced it. The movie includes many celebrities that introduced the live
action parts with the classical music counterpart. It took many, many years to
get the approval to make the sequel and it did really well in the box office, but
the more important part from this movie is the music behind it. The music
really goes along with all seven of the segments shown and they all have an art
style behind it.

The orchestra behind the film was performed by Chicago
Symphony Orchestra and was conducted by James Levine. The movie contains seven
segments and has an important musical piece behind it, which they are written
by somebody significant in the classical music world.   Fantasia
2000 opens with the most famous concert music of all, Beethoven’s Symphony
No. 5 in C minor. Following the first film in 1940, this first segment follows
abstract images that form the ideas of the heavens, butterflies, bats, and
darkness. The second sequence is “Pines of Rome” by Ottorino Respighi,
which follows the journey of humpback whale calf as it learns to fly (only
because of a supernova). The whale is separated from its parents, but manages
to reunite with the entire school, that ends up coming through the fluffy
clouds in the sky to witness a lightning storm up close. The use of CGI is most
noticeable with the adult whales, which have a texturing and photo-realistic
quality that completely overcome the use of the traditional animation in other
segments. George Gershwin’s jazzy “Rhapsody in Blue,” hosted by Quincy
Jones, paints a picture of life in the big city in the 1930s in the style of Al
Hirschfeld’s popular cartoons of the time. A construction worker dealing with
the metropolis is alternated with scenes of a homeless man begging for food.
The backgrounds are mostly muted, single-color drawings, while the main
characters are more detailed but almost equally the same. The art is purposeful
in design but it features some of the fastest piano notes, the synchronization
with the animation is the most impressive. Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No.
2 in F Major is the plot for the story of the “The Steadfast Tin Soldier”
by Hans Christian Andersen. It follows a wooden soldier as he goes up against an
evil jack-in-the-box for the love of a ballerina. With a hero, love interest,
villain, and plenty of adventures to go on, this is the most dramatic and
exciting sequence. It also features beautiful artwork, being mostly CGI, and
the most Disney-like, fully developed storyline. “The Carnival of the
Animals” is one of the funniest sequences while matching the one in the
original, “Fantasia’s” “Dance of the Hours” through pink flamingos very
concerned and confused by one of their own – who is fascinated by a yo-yo. The
music is most reminiscent of a selection from the first film, although it’s
incredibly short. Following this is “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” the
only bit carried over from the original. It’s a memorable, signature component,
but it also takes screen time away from the possibility of new animations.
Finally we have, “Pomp and Circumstance,” Marches 1, 2, 3, and 4 by Edward
Elgar as he tells the story of Noah’s ark, starring Donald Duck. As he gets all
of the animals together to put them into the ark, he’s separated from Daisy and
repeatedly misses reuniting with her by a hair of a second. Although it was
more than likely designed to rival the prior inclusion of Mickey Mouse, this is
easily the most enticing piece of the movie. “Fantasia 2000” is capped off with
the “Firebird Suite” by Igor Stravinsky, about a magical sprite from the
forest and her companion elk that unintentionally wake up a volcanic Firebird
that destroys the forest. It’s a final and good ending to complement the
appearance and retreat of Chernabog in the original film. The updated version
of this film was a huge mastering of sound in animation but it still does not
match the power of the first film. Considering that Disney’s main idea was to
“refresh” Fantasia over the years and with Roy constantly pushing the idea
through the 1970s, this was a great refresher nearly 60 years later.

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Every piece of music that is in this film has a specific
amount of moments and all varying instruments that play in it. Every instrument
has their part and adds something huge or even game changing to the piece. Here
are some examples of the pieces and what instruments are involved in them; in
Beethoven’s Symphony 5 in C Minor, there are 4 moments. The first one being
“Allegro con brio” in C minor, the second one “Andante con moto” in A flat
major, the third movement is “Scherzo: Allegro” in C minor and the final
movement being “Allegro” in C major. All typical classical performance of this
lasts around 30 to 40 minutes and are all done in that specific order. But
there are a range of instruments that all have huge parts in keeping this piece
together, such as the piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, contrabassoon,
two horns, two trumpets,
three trombones (
each being an alto, tenor,
and bass),  a timpani in
G-C, and last but not least d strings (violins,
violas, cellos and double basses). They all play specific roles and some of
them only show up in the fourth and final movement. My favorite sequence is Shostakovich’s
Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major, which only has three movements. The three
movements being Allegro, Andante and followed by Allegro again. All three
having different instruments being played and all three having changing moods
during their times being played. The instruments that were involved in making
this great piece were; a solo piano, three flutes (with a third doubling piccolo),
two oboes,
two clarinets,
two bassoons,
four horns, the timpani, a snare
drum and strings. To keep a special piece together, they
all have to have their instruments and they must all be in their place. That’s
what makes this movie so good, the art behind the music. It takes time,
patience and talent to put such a masterpiece together and I bet if Walt Disney
were still alive, that he would be damn proud of the sequel that happened 60
years later.

Overall, I really enjoyed the film and the music behind it.
I last saw the original when I was little kid so this was a good refresher. The
music was great and it set the tone for a lot of the scenes during the movie.
Some of the music was dark and mysterious which went well with the scenes that
had the same tone as the music did. The music corresponded with the scenes and
it was all mashed together perfectly. The people who saw the original when it
first came out in 1940 have really mixed reviews about this film, with reviews
saying that it is drawn out for too long or the some of the old music should
have been in instead of the new choices. I like both films equally because I
don’t really see the difference between the two and why people liked one more
than the other. It is the same concept, an animated movie about classical music
and the art behind it. The music tells a story along with the animations with
each sequence and movement being different then the last one. You can see in
every scene the hard work and talent that is put into it and for taking 60
years to make, I think it was well worth the wait. Fantasia 2000 is a beautiful,
story-telling movie with incredible classical music done by brilliant artists.
It deserves more credit and I think needs to be perceived better by the film
community. I would definitely recommend it to somebody who enjoys this type of
music and wants to see good, classic Disney animation. Is the original better
than this one? In my opinion, I think they are both equally good and should
both be seen. Perhaps there will be a third but if there isn’t, I can live with
the original and the sequel. 


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