Alphabet Cinema: “F” is for “Fantasia/2000”

Yes, I’m falling behind a bit. My goal was to be halfway through the alphabet by now, but apparently writing while my toddler remains conscious simply won’t appease the little monkey/kitty/whatever animal the Chinese zodiac professes him to be.

So, in light of that, I’m going to review Netflix’s Fireplace For Your Home (2011) instead. It was a very nice alternative to actually blowing a hole in my southwestern home, erecting a brick chimney, and burning various chunks of dead tree. Also, if I donned headphones and stared at the screen, the crackling flames incited some nice ASMR. All I missed was the ashy aroma. Dang.

No, really. I’m not reviewing Netflix’s prank turned popular streaming video. I mean, I could, but I’d probably descend into some kind of philosophical musing and/or hypnotic state full of nonsensical drabble. And ain’t nobody got time for that.

But then, who has time for an hour and fifteen minutes of Fantasia/2000 (1999)? People who stay home with young children, like me, of course (read: people who would watch anything for a break from Thomas the Freaking Tank Engine).

Watching this reboot of Disney’s 1940 Fantasia, a bold compilation of musical strains brought to life by creative, colorful animation, definitely made me wonder if I was a real wimp as a kid. I recall being quite alarmed at some of the imagery from the original film.

No, not the cutesy little centaurs.

This whole sequence was a bit, um, you know.

I’m talking about Modest Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain”:

FYI, his name was Chernabog.

Fortunately, there was the iconic “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” sequence with Mickey Mouse and the dancing mops to ease my . . . unease.

Mickey Mouse as a lazy wizard looking for a shortcut but ends up pissing off Snape his wizarding master.

Childhood impressions aside, Fantasia/2000 is another wonderful Disney-made remix of classical pieces such as Beethoveen’s Fifth Symphony, Dmitri Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2, and “The Pines of Rome” set with vivid animated shorts depicting various animals, toys, and sprites of the forest.

While some of the songs echoed the ones from 1940 (for example, the ballerina hippo vs. toy ballerina), others inspired new imaginative heights with flying whales and polygonal butterflies.

Weird weather, we’re having . . .

My son’s favorite seemed to be “Carnival of the Animals,” during which a flamingo shows his fellow (disapproving) feathered friends how to yo-yo like a master. (Okay, yes, I liked it, too.)

It is this swirling combination of nostalgia and epic and comedy that makes Fantasia (old and new) so easy to watch. I suppose I could have done without the celebrity-narrated introductions, though I do see the importance of crediting all the conductors, composers, and art directors.

Part of me wished for some of that trepidation from my youth. I wanted to feel that wide-eyed awe that made me believe, once upon a time, in a world built upon sweeping scores of music. Didn’t matter if they were charming flowers or frightening wizards.

If Fantasia/2000 could bring back fairies and centaurs and the timeless image of how the night sky was pulled over the evening sun by Artemis, like a blanket, it’d make me smile. Alas, I don’t think it fully achieved that emotional stirring, at least, not for me. I wonder what my son will recall of it (besides silly pink birds).

I’ll leave you with the “Firebird Suite– 919 Version” by Igor Stravinsky which was the closest I felt to the wonder my heart was searching for in Fantasia/2000.

This segment written and directed by Gaetan and Paul Brizzi. Art direction by Carl Jones.

Rating: I cannot say I listen to classical music regularly, but hearing it brought to life in a chain of short-films was overall enjoyable. I wish they could have held to some of the darker aspects of the 1940 version, but perhaps some people found it too disturbing (?) for the G-rated audience. B-

ASV Villainy Rating: Since I have no idea who to villainize in this film, which supports a  new story with each new song, I’m gonna return to Fireplace For Your Home. Yea, betches, dat fire be the evil flames of Mordor, and all ya’lls are gonna BURN. WF—We’re Fucked

Next up: Double “G” review for Gone Girl and Grey’s Anatomy


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