Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Disney's 1940 Fantasia is, in my humble opinion, one of the most beautiful creations of modern man. When the Mickey Mouse big boys announced their "Fantasia 2000" thingamajiggy, I was beyond skeptical of its possibility of being good, millennial Disney being what it is (crappy). A decade has passed without me lowering my snobbish nose to the matter. Until, that is, I realized there's a Whales In Space segment in the film.

The segment is set to the music of Respighi's Pines of Rome, which frankly I find to be an unremarkable piece of music, though that's just a matter of taste. Disney trots out the typical overused devices to play on its audience. There's a cute, peppy little baby whale, playing catch-up with its majestic parents, getting into mischief, etc. It just, like, sooooooo clearly rips off the original Fantasia's Pastoral Symphony sequence. Actually, it is either ripping it off , or it's an attempt at being meta. In either case, I cannot deny that the cgi animation is gorgeous, and the...ahem...concept behind the whole thing is pretty thrilling.

So, does this bring the entire genre into another strata of high-browedness?

Sequence director Hendel Butoy recalls the concept coming up as a result of one of the artists preliminary brainstorm drawings (rock on, whoever you are!). The idea tickled Butoy's fancy. He says, "When you think about it, whales really do have a lighter than air quality to them. They're like big blimps suspended in the sea and moving effortlessly around in the water. The idea of putting them in an environment that you've never seen them in before was appealing."

Amen to that! And without further discussion, here is the video: