‘Fantasia 2000’ and the Final Gasps of the Disney Renaissance

/Film | 10/22/2019 | Josh Spiegel
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Ambition is the great historical throughline of the Walt Disney Animation Studios. The notion of making a feature-length animated film was, in the early 1930s, seen as folly by many critics. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, of course, proved that notion wrong. A few years later, though, the notion of making a feature-length animated film comprised of short films scored to various pieces of classical music was seen as a much larger folly. Many of the films Disney released during Walt Disney’s lifetime — many more than people today may realize — were seen as, at best, ambitious failures upon their initial release.

One of those ambitious failures, one of the few that deserves the categorization, was The Black Cauldron. It was the ignominious end of a dark era of Disney animation, but an ambitious film nonetheless. The Black Cauldron was an expensive attempt to marry classic animation with a more male-driven story aimed at teenagers, flopping painfully at the box office. The Disney Renaissance followed, with films that largely married ambition and success. But all good things come to an end, and so this era did with another ambitious, expensive film that has slowly gained appreciation over time.

Renaissance - Fantasia

How fitting it is that the Renaissance concluded with Fantasia 2000.

The third feature film in the Disney Animation canon, Fantasia, remains one of the boldest and most formally daring features ever released by a major studio. The content of the film isn’t terribly challenging, though one section scored to Igor Stravinsky’s controversial “Rite of Spring” in which a scientific as opposed to religious representation of evolution is depicted would likely not be recreated in the 21st century.

Nothing - Fantasia - Daring - Sense - Purveyor

If nothing else, what made Fantasia daring was the sense that a purveyor of all-ages entertainment would make a two-hour film comprised of a...
(Excerpt) Read more at: /Film
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