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Discussion in 'DVD' started by Charlie O., Jan 16, 2004.
Is "Fantasia" in the "The Fantasia Anthology" cut or politically corrected in anyway?
There are sites on the internet that specifically address this problem. Fantasia (1940) has not been "cut" but some zooming and/or digital touchups apparently were done to remove a racial stereotype in the Pastoral Symphony sequence.
But do NOT let this keep you from buying this set. Fantasia looks incredible and I thought the additional short on the Fantasia Legacy disc, "Clair de Lune" was worth the entire package since I only saw snippets of it in the documentary that was with the previous video collector's edition back in 1990(?).
Definitely buy the FANTASIA ANTHOLOGY. It's one of the finest sets to come out of Disney. The *very* brief zooming is unfortunate, but it certainly doesn't detract from the viewing too much. The Deems Taylor narration also had to be re-recorded, as the audio track for the Roadshow Version has been lost over the years. If you'd never seen the film before, you would be hard pressed to notice it either.
Actually there are cuts. But it's the most complete version ever offered.
The censored 30 seconds of The Pastoral Symphony feature zooming (at one point, out of focus), digital erasing, and even some short shots are replaced by other "clean" shots.
Also, Deems Taylor is redubbed, even though a good 60-65% of his original audio could have been imported from the 1947 re-release version. Through some creative editing and digital "warping," Corey Burton's re-recording could have been cleanly integrated with the remains of the original audio.
Also, there is a complete lack of credits. The roadshow version, when released in 1940, had programs. The 1947 version moved the intermission title card to the front, but lacked the program. The 1990 re-release added complete credits at the end over some of the deleted 1940-only footage. So, the DVD should have at least a booklet reproduction of the program or add back the 1990 version's credit crawl.
A "Masterpiece Edition" is supposedly coming out in 2005 or 2006, so skip the Anthology version.
"A Masterpiece Edition is supposedly coming out in 2005 or 2006, so skip the Anthology version."
No, don't skip the Anthology version. The Anthology Version has a commentary track by Roy Disney (who is now Michael Eisner's arch-nemesis), as well as a commentary by Walt Disney from beyond the grave (made up of various recordings he made over the years). It also has one of the best "making of" features I've ever seen. Why wait? Get it *now*.
There is a dispute about the "cuts" to Fantasia. Fantasia was re-released in 1947, the year after the NAACP protested loudly against Disney's Song of the South. Leonard Maltin writes that the "Centaurette" sequence had been cut "since the 1950's". In the article, "The Mouse that Roared", Disney historians Anthony Dale and Drew Sullivan also write that the Centaurettes were cut "sometime in the 1950's". Whoever put together the DVD Liner Notes seems to think the shots were cut in 1969. If you notice, the DVD liner notes state that the running time of the 1947 version and the 1969 version are exactly the same. They state that it is "unexplained" why the running times are exactly alike.
Well, if Maltin is correct, and Walt Disney had cut those shots himself at some point in the Fantasia timeline, then it makes sense why the running time of the 1947 version and the 1969 version are the same. Song of the South hit in 1946, and the film was accused of presenting negative images of African-Americans. In 1947, it is possible the re-release of Fantasia was trimmed of offending imagery by Walt Disney himself. That would explain why the 1947 version and the 1969 version have the exact same running time, and while it makes Maltin off by a few years, it makes sense.
Why do I doubt the liner notes and tend to believe Maltin? Because Disney PR frequently trips on their own shoelaces in this regard -- their press release for last year's DVD release of Sleeping Beauty stated that Beauty was the first animated Disney film to be shot in a wide-screen process...forgetting all about Lady and the Tramp, which was released in 1955, and was shot in CinemaScope.
But back to the subject at hand -- if Walt Disney trimmed those shots himself - in 1947, the 1950's or whenever - then the DVD is a solid compromise. It removes the imagery Walt wanted out of the movie, while not cutting the original Stokowski recordings. The DVD presents a version of Fantasia that is the most complete "recreation" of the original 1940 experience that we are likely to get (can anyone see the Disney Company ever restoring those shots? I certainly don't ever see it happening).
So why wait for a new DVD that may not have the Roy Disney commentary, or the "making of" feature which relies heavily on interviews with Roy Disney? It is unlikely that Fantasia is going to ever be re-combobulated to feature the few fleeting images of the black centaurettes (again, shots that may have been removed by Walt himself), so there is no reason to wait.
It's not true that Walt wanted the scenes cut, at least like it is.
First, it was uncut until 1969... after Walt Disney's death. In fact, a mid-1960's episode of the Disneyland show (Wonderful World of Color?) featured the entire segment, WITHOUT cuts. Roy E. Disney has been interviewed before and he has expressed his disgust over the cuts.
Besides, if Walt REALLY wanted it censored, he would have had those scenes re-animated like for The Three Little Pigs.
Not to mention... one of the censored shots is of two Zebra-taurs rolling a carpet up stairs. They were retained in all the previous and subsequent shots, yet digitally erased (causing the carpet to roll itself up the stairs!!!!)
Was it also Walt's say to have the entire "Martins and the Coys" segment of Melody Time deleted? Was it also Walt's say to have shots of Pecos Bill and Goofy smoking deleted from Make Mine Music and Saludas Amigos? Those were all intact until their latest video versions.
Are these cuts or digital cleansings unigue to the Anthology DVD release? I have both the Disney deluxe CAV Laserdisc box set and Anthology DVD box set still sealed and unopened. I've been meaning to open both but never got around to them. I figure the laserdisc box set may or may not have any scenes unaltered.
I have a question about Fantasia and Disney's Vault. I went all over town today trying to find either the single disc Fantasia's or the Anthology but no one had it. I realise these films are going back in the vault but I want to know if Disney has the stores pull the dvd's or do they allow them to keep them in stock untill they sell out? If they do have them pulled have they already done it?
Patrick: The Martins and the Coys was a segment of MMM and Pecos Bill a segment of Melody Time.
Nelson: The Pastoral Symphony segment of the Fantasia LD is also "cleansed", but I think it's done in a slightly different way compared to the DVD. And, of course, the LD has the shorter Deems Taylor pieces of the 1940's re-release (but with DT, not that replacement actor).
Thanks Lars, I figured as much! Digital cleansing was not as advanced as it is now when the LD's were released.
Alls I'm saying is that there are multiple opinions about when that sequence was censored. Maltin and others say the 50's. The DVD says 1969, and yet cannot explain why that version has the same exact running time as the 1947 version. So, let's just leave it at that. Lots of different stories floating around out there.
"Roy E. Disney has been interviewed before and he has expressed his disgust over the cuts."
If you're referring to the Roy E. Disney interview with the BBC, then he wasn't referring to Fantasia. He was referring to the alterations made to Saludos Amigos, Make Mine Music, and Melody Time, and said the cuts had been made without his knowledge, and that he would make sure the cuts were restored for their next editions. This might shock you, but Roy supervised the restoration of Fantasia for the 2000 DVD release. He was upset by the changes made to the 40's package films, but he signed off on and approved the changes made to Fantasia for the DVD. Why? We'll get to that.
"Besides, if Walt REALLY wanted it censored, he would have had those scenes re-animated like for The Three Little Pigs."
That's an assumption, of course. The question you should be asking yourself is this -- in today's world, would Walt Disney have wanted hurtful images to remain in Fantasia? Or would he have altered the film - just as he did with Three Little Pigs - to remove offensive imagery? I think he would. That's *my* assumption, and because Roy Disney supervised it, I have no problems with it.
"Was it also Walt's say to have the entire "Martins and the Coys" segment of Melody Time deleted?"
"Was it also Walt's say to have shots of Pecos Bill and Goofy smoking deleted from Make Mine Music and Saludas Amigos?"
"Those were all intact until their latest video versions."
And the big difference is this -- Walt Disney never thought he was making movies for children. He was making movies for family audiences, a'la Pixar today. The modern Disney company, though, thinks these WERE children's films, hence they were censored for modern children (gun violence, smoking) so that they could be shown to children in grade schools and in day care centers. The adults who also loved these films, meanwhile, were incensed. So I'm with Roy - and you - in believing those cuts should never have been made. If the films aren't suitable for school viewing because of progressive mandates regarding gun violence and tobacco use, then don't show them to children. Simple. Easiest form of censorship is the "off button".
The Fantasia experiment is completely different. Just as Walt altered "Three Little Pigs" because people were offended by it, I absolutely believe that if he were alive today, that footage would have either been re-animated (as you suggest) or treated in the way Roy Disney did with the Fantasia DVD. The erasure of the centaurettes and the frame cropping were changes not made to make the film more "child-friendly", but because the images were hurtful and shameful and were in extreme bad taste. Cutting images of hurtful ethnic stereotypes is not the same thing as cutting gun violence and tobacco so that your movie can be viewed by toddlers in grade schools and day care.
The other difference is that Buena Vista Home Video made the changes to "Amigos", "Make Mine Music" and "Melody Time", while Roy E. Disney personally supervised the restoration of Fantasia for DVD, and even provides a running commentary during that sequence along with James Levine and Disney's restoration guru Scott MacQueen. Walt Disney himself set the precedent for removing hurtful ethnic stereotypes from his films. Roy E. Disney is following in Walt's footsteps in a way -- and it should be noted that he actually put *all* of the shots back into the Pastorale sequence, so that the Stokowski soundtrack could be heard unabridged (although those "new" shots are extremely cropped and are very noticeable). The 1982 and the 1990 versions were missing some of those shots. The DVD restores *all* the shots, but then uses a variety of tricks to remove the hurtful ethnic steretypes seen within. The DVD is the only "complete" version of Fantasia ever released on home video, and I don't think the Walt Disney who altered "Three Little Pigs" to remove an ethnic stereotype of a Hassidic Jew would have had a problem with it. At all.
I share your passion and I agree that films should be made available in their original forms whenever possible. But in the case of the modern Walt Disney Company, which is a lightning rod for protests by special interest groups, it is not possible for that modern company to release an unaltered version of the Pastorale, and in fact, the harm it would cause (to audiences and to the company) outweighs any possible idealism about the sanctity of original intent, in my opinion. Fantasia is a film that has been released in so many different versions already - from the severely-cut version RKO released, to the 1947 version, to the wide-screen version, the over-the-top "stereophonic" version, to the 1982 version which stripped its original soundtrack completely in favor of a new soundtrack recorded by Irwin Kostal, to the 1990 version which tried to restore some of the Pastorale shots using frame-blow ups, to the new DVD. I can't think of any other movie that has been changed and altered so many times...and the crazy thing is, Walt always intended to shake Fantasia up, he himself called it a work in progress. No other movie has been altered so many times (parts of it even wound up in the IMAX format for F2K).
The idea of trying to experience Fantasia in it's original form is impossible, anyway -- the original multi-track Fantasound tracks were destroyed after they were all mixed down to a single mono track. No one will ever be able to experience Fantasia in its original form, with those multi-track Fantasound effects zooming all over the theater. The modern versions offer a game attempt at trying to replicate the Fantasound speaker pans and surround swooshes, but we'll never know what the original version sounded like.
Outside of a time machine, trying to experience the original version of Fantasia that premiered in New York - with its Fantasound mix and unaltered ethnic stereotypes - that is a lost cause. The DVD, which was sueprvised by Roy E. Disney, and contains a running screen-specific commentary by him (it goes out-of-print in a few days, by the by) is the closest modern audiences are ever going to get.
"I have a question about Fantasia and Disney's Vault. I went all over town today trying to find either the single disc Fantasia's or the Anthology but no one had it. I realise these films are going back in the vault but I want to know if Disney has the stores pull the dvd's or do they allow them to keep them in stock untill they sell out? If they do have them pulled have they already done it?"
The "back in the vault" practice usually forces retailers to stock up on a certain title. While I once had a reader write me and say he had to go through his video store, pulling titles off the shelves, I think he was pulling Disney titles that had been "remaindered", not Disney titles that were now supposed to go "back into the vault".
In any event, depending on your location, you can still find copies of out of print Disney titles in video stores -- Snow White, for instance, has been out of print since January, 2002, and I spotted one while I was Christmas shopping just a few weeks ago. True, that title is getting very hard to find, but it's not impossible.
As for Fantasia and the Fantasia Anthology, I saw both ay my local Best Buy two weeks back, so they're still out there. I wouldn't wait, though. If you see the Fantasia Anthology, grab it. It is one of the best DVD box sets ever made, and it has the restored "Claire de Lune" sequence on Disc Three. Claire de Lune was created for the original Fantasia, but was cut when it was decided that the program was too long. It was decided that "Claire de Lune" would appear on the next version of Fantasia, which, for various reasons, was never made in Walt's lifetime.
Although you may recognize the "Claire de Lune" images from the second sequence of Make Mine Music, the piece truly comes alive with it's original Stokowski underscore. It's worth the price of the Anthology set alone (if you're a fan of American animation, that is)
The zooming is there on all home video releases of Fantasia, but I don't know about the other cuts.
For those who have multi-region dvd capability - Melody Time has been released in region 2 with the Pecos Bill smoking frames intact. It's available from Amazon.Uk, and others.
The original optical sound elements for the Fantasound soundtrack were junked, but not the magnetic copies made in the 1950's. (which were subsequently digitally restored in 1990)
Also, if the "Roy Disney approved the changes" story is true, why was there not one shred of indication on the package? The front says "Original, Uncut Edition." A little business card-sized note was included saying "The best possible materials were used for the transfer" or something like that. During the MacQueen/Disney/Canemaker/Levine commentary, no one even makes a reference to the censorship during the scenes in question.
Even the "List of Versions" feature on the Legacy disc makes no mention of changes even though it did for previous versions.
Also, while the film has been censored in the U.S. since 1969, video masters in Europe are UNCUT.
I think it's worth getting, particularly the Anthology version with the bonus disc.
No, it's not perfect, but it's the best I've ever seen it in my life.
My local Target store still had Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 in stock today (1/17/04). Basically, the post by Ernest Rister is correct: the vault concept basically creates a buzz about a title. I still have people looking for stuff like Little Mermaid and Aladdin, even though these titles are long OOP. The re-release schedule used to be every seven years I believe, but I don't know if that is still the case.
Aladdin is so OOP that it hasn't even appeared on dvd yet! Perhaps you mean VHS?