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A Whole New Fantasia World

Sometimes, I think the folks in Disney marketing are asleep at the switch. It happens when I have to accidentally stumble across something incredibly awesome, that they should be screaming from the rooftop. To wit:

“Oh that’s nice, they’re re-releasing Fantasia on Blu-Ray and WAIT WHAT?!”

We know how originally there was a plan to continue the Fantasia concept after the release of Fantasia 2000 ten years ago; at one point this effort was widely known as Fantasia 2006. This package film would have followed the familiar Fantasia formula, but would have focused on segments animated to music from around the world. This “world music” approach had been under consideration for years, dating back to the aborted Musicana project from the 1970s and 80s.

Bizarrely, these ambitious plans to keep Fantasia in a constant cycle of renewal, so similar to Walt’s original plans, met the exact same fate as in 1942. Fantasia 2006 seems to have met its doom in that fateful year of 2003, when Disney feature animation seemed to breathe its last, and so many promising projects vanished.

But, as Jeremy Irons would say, all was not lost. Several sequences for the film were already finished or in production, and eventually four completed segments emerged that were released individually. After making the film festival circuits they were little seen, save for the two that were placed as extras on Disney DVD titles. The four Fantasia 2006 segments that survived are:

  • One by One – Accompanied by music from Lion King composer Lebo M, this short tells the story of South African children coming together to fly kites. It was eventually released on the Special Edition DVD release of The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride.
  • Lorenzo – This hilarious segment, released on March 6, 2004, follows a spoiled house cat whose luxurious tail is cursed by a mysterious black alley cat. The action is underscored by a whirling tango, Bordoneo y 900 by Osvaldo Ruggiero, and the short was nominated for an Oscar in 2004.
  • Destino – The most famous of the pieces, this collaboration between Disney artist John Hench and surrealist Salvador DalĂ­ was started in 1945 but never completed. After being resurrected by Roy E. Disney, it debuted at France’s Annecy International Animated Film Festival on June 2, 2003. It received an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Short in 2003.
  • The Little Matchgirl – The last of the shorts to emerge, this piece merged Alexander Borodin’s String Quartet No. 2 in D Major: Third Movement: Notturno (Andante) with Hans Christian Andersen’s tragic 1845 story. The short also debuted at Annecy, this time on June 5, 2006, but was not widely seen until it was included on the Platinum Edition DVD release of The Little Mermaid that same year.

So, we have wonderful, award-winning animation sitting in a vault somewhere. I had never even managed to see One by One or Lorenzo until Don Hahn’s fantastic presentation of Disney animated rarities at 2009’s D23 Expo. There was hope, though – allusions were made at that time to their desire to get these films out on home video. It has been strongly hinted that these orphaned shorts would see the light of day when Disney gave Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 their scheduled Blu-Ray debut in 2010.

Now, mercifully, that seems to be the case. I can’t imagine that this Fantasia World could be anything other than those world music pieces intended for Fantasia 2006. It’s doubtful that we’d be insanely lucky enough to get some new pieces as well, or maybe have the new shorts integrated with some of Walt’s abandoned Fantasia-bound pieces like Claire de Lune from 1942, but if the new release is anywhere near the quality of the Fantasia Anthology box set from 2000, I’ll be a happy camper.

But seriously, Disney, why didn’t I know about this?

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9 comments to A Whole New Fantasia World

  • Marcel

    Does this mean no “Destino Legacy Edition” as we were promised years ago?

  • No, the Legacy Edition line was canceled years ago. That’s why we got Oswald and the the Disneyland documentary as part of the Treasures line. Leonard Maltin told me in 2008 that they were having to scrape for Destino-related material to justify one of those 2-disc releases, so they didn’t feel like they could warrant releasing it as a Treasure. They’ve been kind of vague as to how and when they were going to get it out, and of course they haven’t specifically said that it’ll be on this release. My only hope is that they include all the material they’d collected, including the documentary they made about Destino. I want this to be a huge release!

  • Marcel

    Thanks, Michael.

    I went to a screening of Destino at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art a few years ago, and they had some of the people that were at the time working on the documentary for the “Legacy Edition”, speaking about their film. it sounded like it was going to be fantastic! I fear that if Destino is relegated to just being another extra on some collection, that all the great material that they were putting together for the Legacy Edition will be lost.

  • Michael (also)

    I too am hoping that DESTINO will be available soon!!! It was my understanding that there was a featurette on various artist working at Disney over the years, which sounded great. I also thought that a dvd/bluray release might include a filmed version of the play “Lobster Alice”, as it is all about this meeting of major-minds in 1940’s Los Angeles, which stars Noah Wyle as Dali. The artwork created for it, plus stories about Walt’s visit to Port Lligat should have made for a very full program easily. Being part of Fantasia World will suffice after all these years, just please release Destino! Youtube doesn’t cut it, and standing in galleries has gotten old, along with me, waiting to watch this wonder at home.

  • Wow – I hadn’t heard of the play. Very cool; thanks for bringing that up!

    I’m *really* ready for this to come out… and for the shorts program to rev back up!

  • Woodrow

    Thanks for the news. I too stumbled across the announcement (as well as your excellent site) with joyful surprise. I have had the privilege of seeing two of these shorts on the big screen and two on my pathetically small screen. They deserve more for both the visuals and the sound. I hope that there is to be some spectacle with a broader release if even short lived. One of my favorite movie memories is driving 200 miles to see Fantasia 2000 in an IMAX theater. The sound alone was wonderful . . . like an old time Disney event film. None-the-less, I’m looking forward to owning such treasures for frequent display in my living room.

  • Thanks for the kind words! In a lucky twist of fate, we had a vacation at WDW scheduled around the time of Fantasia 2000’s release so I was able to go to the IMAX in Orlando to see it. I don’t really know how to describe how excited I was.

    Word leaked out last week that Disney will in fact be releasing these on Blu-ray later this year, in a 4-disc set. So far we just know that the two features will be included, as well as Destino and the documentary about its making that was created for release several years ago now.

  • M. Car

    I’m holding the Blu-rays in my hands right know and can confirm that there’s only Destino as an extra short and the whole Fantasia World part was left out. :(

  • cliff dillon

    perhaps fantasia world will be released as a complete feature in the disney canon

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