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Walt Disney took a big chance with this ambitious anthology of animated fantasies. First, he set them to lengthy classical music pieces, and then he boldly experimented with different forms of animation, sometimes jettisoning any sort of narrative altogether. The result is a sometimes mesmerizing, sometimes hilarious, sometimes frightening, but always beautiful moviegoing experience. A box-office failure when first released, it's now considered a timeless treasure. Highlights include: Mickey Mouse in 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice', the leaping hippos and alligators in 'Dance of the Hours', the rise and fall of the dinosaurs set to Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring', the dancing mushrooms of Tchaikovsky's 'Nutcracker Suite', and Mussorgsky's 'Night on Bald Mountain', with its fearsome winged demon raging at the heavens.
One of Walt Disney's ambitions for the project was to rerelease the film periodically over the years with new sequences. Though the film was regularly rereleased, it wasn't until 1999 that his intention was finally realized with the premiere of FANTASIA 2000, a lavish follow-up that included a digitally restored Sorcerer's Apprentice and a host of new material. The original FANTASIA, however, remains a one-of-a-kind auditory and visual experience that is still, in many ways, far ahead of its time.
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