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Hey folks, Harry here with a fantastic report on the future of DISNEY ANIMATION. Personally I'm very excited by some of what I hear in this report, especially some of the voice casting in ATLANTIS and the descriptions of TREASURE PLANET. As for ETCH-A-SKETCH... well, he said he worked in the marketing department, and I heard one of them just left... perhaps he was Etch-A-Sketch.... Whoever he was, is anybody's guess. While reading TREASURE PLANET's description below... let's see how many of you are reminded of that old Japanese film, WAR OF THE PLANETS... a fun as hell ripoff of STAR WARS, but turnabout was fair play when Lucas took the Asteroid sequence in return for EMPIRE... Anyways... Things are looking promising for DISNEY. OH... and as for FANTASIA 2000 being shortened to 77 Minutes... well, you also have to think that this is for IMAX and most of their films are on the short side... Pays for multiple showings. I've seen all the sequences save for the Gershwin bit and ya know... Slow would not be in my descriptive vocabulary to talk of the film. However, if Disney is testing the film young... I'm sure it would be. But FANTASIA was always for the adult medium, at least in my eyes.

One of the benefits of being lucky as hell is that you get to be in the places I get to be, everyday. Sure it took years and years of hard work, a million life drawing classes and anatomy classes. All the years of sketching and studying finally payoff when I can look at my co-workers and wonder which one is Sir Etch-a-Sketch. Harry, you wouldn't believe the hell this place went under while he was leaking information to you. I don't believe they got him, but they must have been close because I haven't seen a report from him in a long time. I saw you ask for him, so I decided to write in, in his good spirit. Let me take you to work with me:

In the Feature Animation Building:

Oh, the coolness that I have seen up on the walls on the top floor! They have many character model sheets, layouts, and paintings on display, and the standouts were for "Atlantis" and a new film called "Treasure Planet"!

Yes, Claudia Christian and Michael J. Fox are doing lead voices for "Atlantis" but even cooler is the supporting character done by Leonard Nimoy (as the wizened Atlantean Elder) and -get this- a comic relief "crotchety old geezer" voiced by none other than Jim Varney! Yes, you can say it... c'mon, I know you're dying to... "Ernest Goes to Atlantis" Hee-hee.

The Michael J. Fox character is smartly drawn. He is lanky, bespectacled and bookish. He looks rather like the kid in Pagemaster all grown up. I expect they'll be playing him up as the 'unexpected hero' character who discovers there's more to him than anyone thought. But the Leonard Nimoy character design is a triumph. He is an old man with a great white beard and mysterious glyphs tattooed on his face. With his staff and solemn gaze he is a hybrid of Gandalf the Grey (from LOTR) and Queequeg (from Moby Dick).

The layouts and scenic paintings are neat. Much of it resembles "Raiders of the Lost Ark", showing the ancient Atlantean ruins, crumbling and moss-covered. Especially evocative are the Ship designs and two monolithic statues that come to life... It gives the impression of being high-caliber adventure with a strong taste of Jules Verne nostalgia.

But what really got my gander up was the artwork for this new "Treasure Planet!" I've never seen anything like it! Take the classic Robert Louis Stevenson "Treasure Island" and cross it with Lucas' "Star Wars"... I was breathtaken! Instead of ships on the ocean, the protagonists sail across the stars in these huge space-vessels that look like galleons. The dramatis personae are mostly demi-human; some with strange alien-characteristics, some with metallic, robot prosthetics. I saw monsters that were chilling, Elvish, sleek villains with strange eyes, and great hulking Space-Pirates with peg-legs!

What's really special is the blend of styles. You have high-tech futuristic trappings everywhere, but it's deeply bedded in the Victorian style of Stevenson's original environment. This combination, though at first incongruous, works like a charm. I am reminded of the rich illustrations in James Gurney's "Dinotopia": not in content, but just in the renderings and style.

I was deeply impressed by the "Treasure Planet" artwork and look forward to a glimpse of more... I only wish I had a scanner to show you!

Their next project coming down the pipe is a western called "Sweating Bullets." I didn't see much from this, just some rough pencil sketches and storyboard frames. I understand Bullets is the name of a young bull, and most of the characters are cattle and other animals you'd find on a ranch. Maybe these things didn't stand out to me because I had just seen an eye-full of groundbreaking development art from the other two films, (or maybe it's because I just don't care for westerns much) but.... Hrrrmm, I felt it was rather flat and uninteresting.

On the Music side I found out that:

1. "Kingdom of the Sun" has changed its title to "IN the Sun"

2. Sting will write a songs for "Kingdom in the Sun" (HARRY NOTE: Actually, he already has)

3. Sarah McLachlan & Robert Goulet will do songs for "Toy Story 2"

4. Kate Bush (yes!) will do a song for "Dinosaur" Being a huge Kate fan, I'm thrilled with this, but I can't imagine what kind of material she'll compose within the context of the film. My mind wanders... Perhaps "the Hounds of Love" will become "the Triceratops of Love"... Oh, dear.

Here's a big one:

5. They finalized the content for "Fantasia 2000" just last week. The segment of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite has been CUT. Recent test screenings rated the film "too long and slow-moving" (and it was only 90 minutes long!) so the Executive Brass came in and said, to that segment. Roy Disney reluctantly agreed and the line-up was changed at the last possible second. Now the only surviving item from the original "Fantasia" is Dukas' The Sorcerer's Apprentice. The film's running time is down to only 77 minutes (compare that with the 1940 "Fantasia" which ran over 124 minutes). Thus, all the press materials, posters, CD artwork, etc. had to be sent back to the Art Dept so all Nutcracker elements could be removed.

Here is the program:

a) Beethoven's 5th Symphony (just one movement, not the whole piece) -- with geometric shapes and abstract light forms

b) The Steadfast Tin Soldier -- entirely CG animation telling the story of the Toy Soldier and the Ballerina doll he loves

c) Elgar's Pomp & Circumstance -- Biblical tale of Noah's Ark with Donald Duck as Noah's Assistant

d) Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals -- with dancing flamingoes and their yo-yo's

e) Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue -- A day in busy Manhattan with highly stylized animation a la Hirschfeld charicatures

f) Dukas' The Sorcerer's Apprentice -- Classic Mickey

g) Rhespigi's Pines of Rome -- Very lyrical and obtuse segment of humpback whales flying through the heavens

h) Stravinsky's Firebird Suite -- the big finale with a mythological green nymph being "reborn into the world"

Unlike what Corona and other sites have reported, Ponchielli's Dance of the Hours has been CUT and will not be in "Fantasia 2000". The segments will likely be in the order I've listed them. They've been working like an army of ants to reformat the entire film for the IMAX theatres. We can only guess what the aspect ratio was originally.

So that's it Head Geek. Hope you find it interesting.

Bregalad (aka The Tenth Old Man)

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