To be frank, I don't care what vision Walt Disney had in mind with regards to Fantasia. The only thing that matters is that the Disney corporation has released a new version that once again merges animation with classical music---except that this time, the movie is done using the IMAX format. The result is mostly positive.

The music is performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Levine. To be frank, I didn't think much of the original Fantasia, and to me, the problems are very clear (and exist in this version): it's simply not the best possible way to create a synthesis by taking an existing work of art, hold it static, and try to mesh another piece of art around it in a dynamic fashion. While one can get extremely close to synchrony, and the Disney animators certainly have, it can never be perfect, because one is rigid and the other is dynamic (in contrast to both aspects being dynamic). Still, as I say, the wrapping of animation around the classical pieces is done well, but it does make my reasons for enjoying both the film and the music fairly distinct from each other.

It is certainly a delight to see the animations on a giant OmniMAX screen (The Tech Museum at San Jose) and also to hear the music on a brilliant sound system (the kind you find in IMAX theatres is general superior the kind in a normal theatre). The choice of music and the stories they tell are extremely well done. The first segment, Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, is enjoyable purely for the majestic sound it projects (the animation is abstract and simplistic). Some of the more amazing and interesting pieces are Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue which features animation that's very unlike Disney about an unemployed worker in New York during the depression, Hans Christian Anderson's story of The Steadfast Tin Soldier set to Shostakovich's Piano Concerto Number 2, Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance depicting Donald Duck getting all the animals together for a ride on Noah's Ark, and Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals which provides the backdrop for a frolicking yo-yo-abusing pink flamingo. The sequence I liked least is the story of the baby whale who gets trapped in an ice cavern, set to Ottorino Respighi's The Pines of Rome.

My favourite from the original film, of course, featured Mickey Mouse as the The Sorcerer's Apprentice (it's also one of the first comic book I ever read) and it continues to remain my favourite. Even though the IMAX format exposes the grainy nature of the original, it's still a classic to see on the dome screen. The final piece, Stravinsky's Firebird Suite where a forest ravaged by volcanic fire grows anew, was highly reminiscent of some Japanimation, both in theme and style, like the kind seen in Princess Mononoke, and is one of the best segments in the new Fantasia.

The only major complaint I have about this film is with the tedious introduction that try to explain each segment to us---I could've done without those. Other than that, Fantasia/2000 is extremely entertaining and enjoyable and I highly recommend catching it at your local IMAX theatre.

Movie ram-blings || Ram Samudrala ||