Sixty years after Walt Disney’s animators first set cartoons to classical music, they’ve conjured up seven new sequences for Fantasia 2000. Judging from the often Mickey Mouse results, they may have been too hasty.
The short segments range from maddeningly abstract (a swarm of triangular butterflies — or are they bats? — accompanies Beethoven’s Fifth) to charmingly traditional (a Shostakovich-scored adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s toy story, ”The Steadfast Tin Soldier”). A Depression-era Manhattan tableau designed in homage to New York Times caricaturist Al Hirschfeld suits Gershwin’s ”Rhapsody in Blue” nicely, but the graduation-day staple ”Pomp and Circumstance” inexplicably inspires biblical kitsch, a retelling of Noah’s ark starring… Donald Duck. We must have skipped that in Sunday school.
The celebs who introduce the selections are equally random yet uniformly cheerful: Steve Martin, Bette Midler, Quincy Jones, Angela Lansbury, and the soundtrack’s conductor, James Levine. In the movie’s one true masterstroke, magicians Penn & Teller cheekily present ”The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” the sole remnant from the original film. Too bad Mickey looks so splotchy blown up to ”Fantasia 2000”’s current IMAX format. Oh well, back to the drawing board.