The Scoop: 1999 G, directed by James Algar & Gaëtan Brizzi and starring Mickey Mouse, Steve Martin, Bette Midler, James Earl Jones
Summary Capsule: Animated shorts set to music are just what ails an insane mind
DnaError’s rating: Hit and Miss cross-section of some amazin’ toonage
DnaError’s review: It’s probably not common knowledge that I, DnaError, am an aspirating animator. No, please, hold your applause and women for later. So, I thought the best way to kick off my mini event…Animation May, is with a feature is all about animation, Fantasia 2000. I don’t know where Fantasia got this “art film” reputation, yeah it’s all classical music..but it’s classic music set to animation! It’s music videos! So quit yer whining.
Since the movie is broken up into little short movies, I’ll review each one separately. Think of them as Bite-Sized review snacks, pig out.
Opening, Beethoven’s 5th, “The Feudin’ Abstract Butterflies”
I have nothing for or against this one. It’s a nice way to open the movie, even though Beethoven’s 5th is the musical equivalent to “to be or not to be.” The action on screen matches the music note by note, but seems uninspired, nothing more then colorful abstract butterflies dueling it out against bright backgrounds. Simple, short, and slightly bizarre.
Ottorino Respighi’s Pines of Rome, “What Whales do when no one is looking.”
I don’t understand why everyone seemed to be raving about this one. The animation is very well done, the cool blues and crisp icebergs, the “flying” feeling of the music is portrayed, and the CGI whales are both realistic and graceful, but it doesn’t seem to have any re-watch value. When I first saw it I was floored by the animation, but around the 2nd time, it just dragged. Around the 3rd, I saw how corny the whole thing was. Yeah, it’s pretty, but I wanted more.
Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue, “Lines! Lines! Lines!”
For some perverse reason, this segment isn’t well-liked. Some massive fever must have taken control of reviewer’s brains cause this is the most creative segment in the movie. Using the line cartoons of Alan Hirschfeld to tell a multi-layered story of New York in 1930, the segment is comical, unique and full of a squiggly energy. Each character has so much…well…CHARACTER on their face and body, and, just like the music, infectiously fun and deceptively simple. Some great use of color and proving that you don’t need words to tell a good story.
Shostakovich’s Second Piano Concerto, “Toy Story -2.5”
Eh. Nothing much here to write home about. Your typical fairy tale involving toys that come to life and captured loves and evil Jack in the boxes. (and it’s based on a Hans Christian Anderson tale, so you’ll know therey’re be a fish involved) The music really fits the story like a glove, and the CGI animation is *very* well done, but it’s forgettable.
Saint-Saen’s Carnival of the Animals, “No John Waters?!”
I’m gonna be short on this one. It’s a pink flamingo with a yo-yo going against vicious non-yo-yo flamingos. Bouncy, silly, fun, animation to go with bouncy, silly, fun music. Plus, it’s very short, which helps.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, “Remember when Mickey made Cartoons?”
This is the most famous of the original Fantasia segments (with the possible exception of that one with all the naked centaurs) and there is a reason for it. It was drawn waaaaay back when people gave a damn about emotion and character in animation. And it has an important moral message about hard work and not messing with grandpa’s magical hat. If it was done today it would be about Mickey discovering his independence or accepting others or some other crap like that. Or maybe I’m just bitter.
Sir Edward Elgar’s, Pomp and Circumstance, “Say it with me now..Awwww”
This is probably my favorite segment. The animation may not be majestic, but it is very vibrant and evocative of Disney’s Golden Age of animation in the 1940s. The most comic of the pieces, not taking itself very seriously and loading every cel with visual jokes and a classic animation feel. There is some cute pathos in here about lost duck love, and I can stand Donald Duck when I don’t have to hear him talk. The music is stately and regal, a bit conflicting with the kooky story, but it works. Just solid animation with jokes you need to watch twice to catch.
Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, “A soaring, majestic rip-off”
No, it’s not Princess Mononoke, but an incredible simulation. This piece works best if you ignore the story and the music and focus on the animation. It’s incredible….full of expert, sweeping use of lighting, color, design, depth, and rich in detail and beauty. The story, a campy kitschy tale of rebirth and renewal blown up to a grand size is forgivable, if not unoriginal. (A magical Stag? Did they just watch PM and take notes?) The music…seems to vanish under the visuals…I can’t really comment on it. It’s a pleasant end to the movie if you don’t think about it for too long.
- The trailer includes a scene from the “Nutcracker Suite,” which was slated to be part of Fantasia 2000, but later scrapped.
- The Fantasia Anthology DVD box-set contains alternate finished animation for the “Firebird” & “Steadfast Tin-Soldier” segments:
“Firebird” scene is an abandoned alternate ending where the Elk is positioned more center as the camera pulls back behind the trees, and the sprite becomes a stream and ends up on a mountain-top as a sunburst.
“Steadfast Tin-Soldier” scene is a more involved and more comical rat scenario in the sewer.
- In “Rhapsody in Blue” in the young man’s room. The first shot shows the whole room and pans left showing him in bed with the alarm clock upright. The very next closeup shows the clock to be face down.
- All the hidden ducks in “Pomp and Cirmcustance”
- Stay after the credits for a quick joke.
If you liked this movie, try these:
- Toy Story
- Beauty and the Beast