Supplemental Disney DVDs Surpass the Competition
The Fantasia DVD in the Fantasia Anthology is the 60th anniversary edition. It represents the original, unaltered "road show" version of Fantasia from 1940 when the film was only shown in twenty-five cinemas, much as Fantasia/2000 was only (really) shown in forty IMAX theaters last year. DVD interactivity allows viewers to select audio commentary by Roy Disney, James Levine, John Canemaker and Scott MacQueen. The commentary analyzes, sometimes excessively, and details every aspect of what is occurring onscreen. From the history of animators to anecdotes about technological aspects of animation, DVD grants the option for total immersion in the film and its history.
This is in addition to the forty-minute "Making of Fantasia" documentary, which narrates every aspect of the film's creation from the inception of Walt's brainchild to the "Concert Feature" to explications of the multi-plane camera. This is all in addition to the Fantasia Legacy DVD, which functions much as the supplemental disc does in Toy Story: The Ultimate Toy Box. It is replete with interviews and historic footage explaining the creation of each animated short in Fantasia and Fantasia/2000.
Moreover, the bonus content is not just historic but also humorous at times: one archived video depicts a room of Disney animators studying a female ballet dancer to learn realistic techniques in depicting the dancing hippopotami in Fantasia. The animators start describing the dancer as a hippopotamus, and she feels insulted until she sees the character sketches, and the mistake is rectified.
Perhaps I am biased toward Disney DVDs. Maybe other animated DVDs have outstanding bonus content. Then again, some films just leap into the culture; they push the boundaries of cinematic storytelling in such innovative ways that they magically capture the population. Many live-action movies like The Wizard of Oz accomplished this as well. But Disney movies tend to achieve this more often than other studios' animated movies. Consequently, Disney DVDs have more of a behind-the-scenes story worth telling. When a movie's title becomes commonplace in society, the reasons why are worth sharing. Moreover, the Disney Studio recognizes the importance of both documenting their films and the DVD ancillary market. While other studios treat their animated features as just another summer release, Disney is well aware they are adding to their heritage and they document every step of the way. That is how Disney DVDs surpass their competition. Great movies and great documentation make great DVDs possible. That is the only way it works.
Gerard Raiti, a native of Baltimore currently residing in Nashville, has reported on animation, Broadway musicals and comic books for various publications including Fandomshop.com and Newsweek. He also holds the Diploma of the Royal Schools of Music, U.K. in classical piano and music.