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 Dalí 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?