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Dear Disney, please restore controversial scenes in upcoming Fantasia Platinum DVD/BD

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Jaxon's Dad, Oct 17, 2008.

  1. Jaxon's Dad

    Jaxon's Dad Well-Known Member

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    Congratulations on the Platinum Edition of Sleeping Beauty on Blu-Ray. From all reports, the work done on this edition is nothing short of a revelation. This is encouraging for future Platinum Editions of your classic animated library. Which brings me to this post about Fantasia.

    I understand and appreciate the reasons why two scenes depicting a little girl "Butterfly McQueen" centaur were zoomed in on the last Home Video versions of this important piece of film history. However, your efforts to avoid the controversy only served to stoke it all the more. Conversations on this and other boards were rather animated (no pun intended) as film fans debated the merits of Disney's efforts at self-censorship. In my opinion, by attempting to remove all objectionable material Disney did a disservice to the film. For one thing, it rendered the scenes in question as overly grainy and ugly on my display. But more importantly, it altered the film itself by not presenting it as it was originally shown. Perhaps the scenes in question no longer exist in their original form. If so, that is a tragedy. However, if they do exist, I would ask the powers that be to please consider restoring them into the film for the Platinum Edition DVD and Blu-Ray Disc. Leonard Maltin's disclaimer on Mickey Mouse in Black & White was absolutely correct and the same applies to Fantasia. Zooming in the frame of a sequence containing material that contemporary audiences find objectionable, but which was not widely criticized at the time of its initial release, is not the best way to deal with the big pink elephant in the room. Instead, why not present the film as it was originally presented, warts and all, and invite Mr. Maltin to record a similar disclaimer for the feature? It is what it is. We shouldn't ignore our cinematic past, however uncomfortable it may be in our present context. This is an opportunity to learn from our past. Thank you for reading.
     
  2. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    I really couldn't have said it better myself. From what I'm reading in RAH's interview with Theo Gluck on the Sleeping Beauty restoration, this is physically possible. Whether or not the powers that be have the cojones to release such a version is another matter entirely and may play into whether Song of the South ever sees the light of day in HD as well.
     
  3. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Well-Known Member

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    Simple solution:

    Offer several viewing options:

    Deems Taylor's voice with Corey Burton's re-dub only in lost sections
    or
    All Corey Burton re-dub

    Censored Pastoral segment
    or
    Uncensored pastoral segment

    At least Disney can just digitally re-touch the area so we don't have to put up with crappy image quality because they're zooming the hell out of the frame.

    If BluRay can allow you to see three cuts of Close Encounters on a single disc, so should it be applied to Fantasia. I will not buy the BluRay if it doesn't offer an option to see the original version.
     
  4. MatthewA

    MatthewA Well-Known Member

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    The way they're basically neutering "The Princess and the Frog" does not make me optimistic.
     
  5. Rolando

    Rolando Well-Known Member

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    would you mind telling me the story about the princess and the frog, I am not aware of it.
     
  6. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    First, there's the title change: originally titled The Frog Princess, the name was changed because "frog" has been used as an anti-French epithet in the past. Second, the heroine's name was changed to Tiana from Maddy because it was thought that the latter name was too close to Mammy and therefore would evoke stereotypical slavery images. Thirdly, for the same reasons, the character's occupation was changed from a maid to... I have no clue @ this point, but she's definitely not a maid.

    Political correctness arises from an absence of imagination.
     
  7. Pete York

    Pete York Well-Known Member

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    Ah! You got me Stephen! Great job. Are you a satirist in 'real' life? Because you've really captured the absurdity of contemporary political correctness. One tip though, you've almost gone too irrational with your hilarious fake reasons. You want to straddle that line of verisimilitude but not cross it. Wait a second...you're not kidding, are you? This is real. A real life corporation with adults making decisions is responsible for this? [​IMG]
     
  8. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Well-Known Member

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    Things aren't so black and white (pun intended) when the film's creator himself decides that he's made a mistake, a very serious mistake, regrets the moral implications of his actions and seeks to correct them to avoid unintended insult to a group of people that even during his lifetime were not afforded equal rights as full American citizens.

    While I understand everyone's desire to see these clips for historical and "originalist" reasons, a film that's intended to be seen by children, and that will be seen by children, has to be considered differently in that it's impact is father reaching than merely fleshing out the animation library of adult collectors.
     
  9. SilverWook

    SilverWook Well-Known Member

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    You really think Fantasia was aimed at little kids? There are bare breasted harpies in the Night on Bald Mountain scene! [​IMG]

    IIRC, the scene wasn't even altered until the late 60's. There was a 16mm print of an old "Walt Disney Presents" episode on Ebay a while back that had the Pastoral Symphony scene intact.
     
  10. ahollis

    ahollis Well-Known Member

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    Fantasia might have at first been aimed a kids in the back of Walt Disney’s mind, but when I first saw it as a child I spent most of the time in the lobby running around with other kids. I did not fully enjoy the film until much later as a college student and that was watching it in a downtown theatre with a date and friends after smoking something I will not admit too today.

    Over the years, I have learned to truly appreciate the film (without smoking) as for what it is, the magical blend of sight and sound. I vote to put it back originally as it was first shown. It really is history.
     
  11. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    I'm afraid so. Fantasia and The Princess and the Frog are just the tip of the iceberg, lest we forget Melody Time (digital erasure of Pecos' Bill's cigarettes to the point of absurdity), Make Mine Music (the complete excision of "The Martins and the Coys" segment) and lyrical changes to Aladdin to prevent offending the Arabic Anti Defamation League, yet the Asian stereotypes in both Lady and the Tramp and The Aristocats remain untouched. Hmmmm......
     
  12. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Well-Known Member

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    It's rated G. Because of that, it's a film safely turned on by any mom or baby sitter. Whether as a film experience it tends to hold the attention span of the average child is a separate question.
     
  13. MatthewA

    MatthewA Well-Known Member

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    Walt Disney never intended films to be made exclusively for kids. That's why it was suggested that the option to view it with or without the material be made available. The film bombed in its original release, and the character only appears once. The impact it had at the time is probably minimal.

    I'm sure some non-Catholic parents might object to the inclusion of "Ave Maria" as well.

    The "G" rating was created in 1968, two years after Walt died and 28 years after this movie.

    This film is art. This is not merely a tool to shut children up for two hours just because people use it that way. We need to stop patronizing adults and children alike by neutering our culture and sweeping potentially questionable material under the rug in the hopes of offending absolutely no one anywhere, which never works.
     
  14. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Well-Known Member

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    having African American children watch imagery where the African characters are put in clear positions of servitude to their white counterparts is not just some partents "objecting" to content. It has a more serious psycological and emotional impact, and it's the reason why these scenes were altered by Walt Disney himself.

    I'm not saying that the original version of the film shouldn't be made available to purist collectors. I'm pointing out that issues like this are not as one-sided as they might first appear when wrapped in simplistic "original art" terms.
     
  15. Timothy E

    Timothy E Well-Known Member
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    Like many of you, I will not buy Fantasia on Blu-Ray if it is yet another iteration of the politically correct censored version.
    Perhaps Disney will have the will in the next few years to release Make Mine Music, Melody Time, and Aladdin in their original forms. Add to this list The Little Mermaid (minister's knobby knee digitally excised because some dirty minds thought it resembled an erection!) and Saludos Amigos (Cowboy Gaucho Goofy smoking a cigarette and blowing smoke). Unfortunately, the most recent DVD release of Saludos Amigos does not give me much hope since it is still the censored version. Strangely, although every DVD version of Saludos Amigos has censored Goofy's cigarette, the original footage appeared unaltered on the laserdisc.
    Likewise, the The Little Mermaid on laserdisc is unaltered.
    It is a travesty that Disney has not released Fantasia in its original form and I hope they will correct this error with the upcoming release.
     
  16. Jonathon M

    Jonathon M Well-Known Member

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    That being said, pixar, the studio that has taken up the quality mantle dropped by disney, have gone back and censored their own work. Considering the great amount of care and artistic integrity you can assume comes from Pixar, it's disappointing, but yet another reason to never trust a studio, no matter what the quality of their work is, or how much they believe in the ethics of their work.
     
  17. MatthewA

    MatthewA Well-Known Member

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    We live in a society that teaches children that racism is wrong. They get all sorts of messages to that effect all the time. This will not undo them. Furthermore, why should we lie and say that it was never like that? Walt was wrong to cut it. I also disagree with Walt's decision to remove the pig-pulling sequence from Steamboat Willie (that whole cartoon could be construed as an orgy of animal abuse if you think about it). Sweeping it under the rug will not make it go away. Just ask Snow White.

    I think the fate of Bambi's mother had a more serious psychological and emotional impact on children of all races than a witless throwaway gag from a movie that modern children will probably not enjoy. This is hardly comparable to The Birth of a Nation, a film made with the intention of glorifying the Ku Klux Klan as the answer to Reconstruction. And I'm not in favor of suppressing that film either.

    The job of raising children and teaching them right from wrong is that of the parents.

    Walt Disney intended his movies to be watched by whole families. And those families must discuss any issues that are raised by the film. To do anything less would be a disservice to their children.
     
  18. Jaxon's Dad

    Jaxon's Dad Well-Known Member

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    David, I appreciate your comments. I was unaware that the alteration came as a result of a mandate from Walt himself. This fact lessons the likelihood of a restored sequence in Fantasia. However, I stand by my assertion that this is an historical document of sorts. Altering it, however enlightened and sincere Walt's intentions were, was and is a mistake. I agree with MatthewA that Parents are responsible for discussing these issues with their children. I remember seeing the first episode of "Roots" when I was 8 years old and having a conversation with my parents about the horrors of slavery. That discussion was invaluable to me. Parents who actually parent can make a difference.
     
  19. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    So are Planet of the Apes (1968), 2001: A Space Odyssey and the theatrical version of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Anyone who plops their kids in front of a movie simply because it has a G rating is negligent.
     
  20. ahollis

    ahollis Well-Known Member

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    Walt Disney said once that Fantasia would never be completed and envisioned that the film would be re-released with new segments inserted and older ones taken out. Fantasia 2000 was a result of this dream which Roy Disney attempted to do. Fantasia was originally released by Walt Disney Productions itself without then-distributor RKO Radio Pictures, and exhibited as a two-hour and twenty minute (counting the intermission) roadshow film with booked engagements. The film opened to mixed critical reaction and failed to generate a large commercial audience, which left Walt Disney in financial straits. Fantasia was eventually picked up by RKO for release in 1941 and edited drastically to a running time of 81 minutes in 1942. Five subsequent rereleases of Fantasia between 1946 and 1977 restored various amounts of the deleted footage, with the most common version being the 1946 rerelease edit, which ran nine minutes shorter than the original 124 minute roadshow version. A 1982 reissue featured a newly recorded digital soundtrack conducted by composer Irwin Kostal, but was taken out of circulation in 1990 after a restored version of the original Stokowski-conducted soundtrack was prepared. The original version of Fantasia was never released again after 1941.

    I am not sure if Mr. Disney himself was involved in the reworking of scenes in the film but only of the segment edits that were taken out or placed back in. I thought the PC edits were made in the 1982 re-release. I say so as I remember some talk in the Box Office magazine at the time of the release that referred to the PC cuts as well as the new soundtrack.

    I am a purist and I would like to see the original 1941 release. Since they went back to the original negative and gave us more picture in Sleeping Beauty, perhaps they will treat Fantasia with the same care and try to give us the original release, with intermission.
     

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