Directors: Don Hahn, Pixote Hunt, Hendel Butoy, Eric Goldberg, James Algar, Francis Glebas, Paul Brizzi and Gaëtan Brizzi
Original Release: 1999
Choice: Purple Penguin's
My Overall Rating: 5 stars out of 5
The second installment generally doesn't fair as well with the critics as the original does. While I love it, I'm willing to admit the segments are uneven. Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance are not especially memorable. Both the flying whales in Respighi's Pines of Rome and the toys come to life in Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2 are fun but I find their relationships to the music less convincing. The inclusion of The Sorcerer's Apprentice is nice for nostalgia but I would have preferred all new material. I still think those segments are good, mind you, just not great.
The remaining three segments, though, definitely meet or even exceed the standard of the original. Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue is paired perfectly with the artistic style of cartoonist Al Hirschfeld. The flamingo sketch for The Carnival of the Animals is short but sweet - a welcome dose of slapstick comedy. Then, in the end, the masterpiece of the whole operation: Firebird.
If one seeks the roots of movie music in general, one need look no further than Igor Stravinsky. He was the biggest influence on all of the epic film score composers, John Williams most of all. In my professional experience, Firebird is an easy sell with kids. Little explanation is required for its dramatic power. For Disney, it inspired the death and rebirth of a forest brought on by a volcanic eruption. The play between the spring sprite, her elk companion and the Firebird they accidentally awaken is an elegant and furious dance, ending with blaring, triumphant French horns as life is restored. Either story or music would be potent alone. Their perfect synthesis generates Fantasia magic at its very best.
A new, full-length Fantasia sequel is unlikely in the near future - too expensive and time-consuming for the modest financial profit. A plan for Fantasia 2006 was abandoned, though a few individual segments were produced and distributed as shorts. Perhaps it is a once every 60 years phenomenon. Mark your calendars for 2060.