Hot on the heels of its remarkable three-disc "Toy Story" DVD collection, Disney Home Video has released a fabulous three-disc "Fantasia Anthology Collector's Set" ($70).
The first disc features the beautifully restored and remastered version of the 1940 animated classic "Fantasia." This is the uncut roadshow version of the film, which hasn't been seen in more than 50 years, and includes all of the interstitial introductions by Deems Taylor, the noted music critic of the day. When "Fantasia" was put into general release, the running time was cut by an hour and most of Taylor's intros were left on the cutting-room floor.
Scott MacQueen, manager of film restoration for Disney, was able to find Taylor's excised footage. But because most of the audio tracks were missing, another voice has dubbed in Taylor's comments.
The disc includes archival interviews with Walt Disney, a terrific "The Making of Fantasia" featurette and audio commentaries from Roy E. Disney (Walt's nephew, who produced "Fantasia/2000"), conductor James Levine, animation historian John Canemaker and MacQueen.
Walt Disney originally envisioned "Fantasia" as an ever-evolving film. He planned to add one new sequence each year so that in five years the entire film would be different. But he had to abandon those plans when the expensive production didn't do well at the box office and the onset of World War II shut off the international market.
The second disc features the wide-screen version of the long-awaited sequel, "Fantasia/2000," which was released last December in the Imax format. Included is "The Making of Fantasia/2000," compelling audio commentaries from Roy E. Disney, Levine and producer Don Ernst, another commentary track with the segment directors and art directors, the vintage animated short "Melody," which was released in 3-D, and the Oscar-winning short "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom."
The "Fantasia Supplement" disc is the crown jewel of the collection. It offers an in-depth look at each segment from both "Fantasia" films, including introductions to the segments, clips of Walt Disney talking about the scenes, storyboards, unused sequences, abandoned plans, concept art, character designs and an examination of the music.
There's also a look at how the innovative special effects were done 60 years ago--decades before computers--plus publicity material, pencil tests, a still frame gallery and a production progression demonstration.
"The Fantasia That Never Was" actually reconstructs full animation and/or story reels with music of abandoned ideas for the original "Fantasia," including "Clair de Lune," "The Ride of the Valkyries" and "Invitation to the Waltz" with Peter Pegasus.
The exquisite "Clair de Lune" was originally produced for the 1940 release but was cut because of the length of "Fantasia." It was later reedited and set to different music and included in the late '40s release "Make Mine Music." In 1992, a work print of the original was found and restored, complete with conductor Leopold Stokowski's scenes conducting the orchestra. The restored "Clair de Lune" is an absolute stunner.
There are also single-disc versions of "Fantasia/2000" ($30) and "Fantasia" ($30) available. Each includes such goodies as commentaries and featurettes.
Warner Home Video has done a nice job with the digital edition of the summer blockbuster "The Perfect Storm" ($25). Based on the book by Sebastian Junger and directed by Wolfgang Petersen, the action adventure starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg deals with the ill-fated crew of the boat the Andrea Gail during a terrible storm off the coast of New England in 1991.
The DVD includes the wide-screen version of the film, bios, trailers, a storyboard gallery, a photo montage set to the theme song and a look at the conceptual art for the film complete with commentary by Petersen. There are also interviews with veteran fishermen from Gloucester, Mass., a behind-the-scenes look at James Horner composing the score, an "HBO First Look" documentary on the real storm and the making of the movie, and three separate audio commentary tracks--one with Petersen, another with Junger and the third with Stefen Fangmeier and Helen Ostenberg Elswit of the visual-effects team.
Petersen talks about his involvement and how, initially, the townspeople of Gloucester were suspicious of having Hollywood filmmakers arrive to tell the story. Junger talks about his experience with the storm in Gloucester and how he came to write the book.
Director Oliver Stone offers scintillating commentaries on the special editions of 1989's "Born on the Fourth of July" (Universal, $27) and 1989's "Wall Street" (Fox, $30). Though his films often are less than subtle, his insights into two of his best films are intelligent and full of heart.
Besides his commentary, the "Wall Street" disc includes a documentary containing interviews with Stone and stars Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas, who won the Oscar as ruthless businessman Gordon Gecko. Stone talks about his father, who was a stockbroker. Like Sheen's character in the movie, Stone admits he had to ask his father for money. In his 20s and early 30s, Stone went through lean years, taking on odd jobs when he couldn't sell any scripts.
New from VCI are the restored, wide-screen versions of the cult Monte Hellman Westerns: 1966's "The Shooting" ($30) and 1967's "Ride in the Whirlwind" ($30). A pre-"Easy Rider" Jack Nicholson not only stars in each of the films, but he also wrote the latter and produced both with Hellman. The DVDs feature bios, coming attractions and enjoyable, freewheeling commentaries with Hellman and co-star Millie Perkins.