In part one, I looked at the various film and print logos for Walt Disney’s first two animated features: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio. Though I’d love to cover certain films right now, this series will probably go in chronological order, so I most likely can’t do those right now.
If I ever branch off, the post will be numbered, so that they will still be in order when all of them are finished.
For now, this is the plan:
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio
- Dumbo and Bambi
- Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, and Make Mine Music
- Fun & Fancy Free, Melody Time, and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
- Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan
- Sleeping Beauty, 101 Dalmatians, and The Sword in the Stone
- The Jungle Book, The Aristocats, and Robin Hood
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The Rescuers, and The Fox and the Hound
- The Black Cauldron, The Great Mouse Detective, and Oliver & Company
So without further ado…
Fantasia is a little tough to talk about, because its original release was kind of staggered. Walt Disney’s epic, ambitious experiment was first released in the fall of 1940, but as a roadshow event. A typical roadshow goes this way. The film in question is screened once at each location, it’s basically a tour of sorts… But for a movie, not a musical act. This happened mostly because Disney’s distributor at the time, RKO Radio Pictures, didn’t want to give the 124-minute goliath a general release.
RKO then got the rights in 1941 and handled the roadshow screenings from there, though because of the war and their cost-cutting desires, they didn’t present the film in FantaSound.
RKO finally gave the film a general release in January 1942, but they ordered edits to the movie. Walt couldn’t bring himself to truncate his film, but it had to be done, so it was handled by some of his crew. Over the years, Fantasia‘s re-releases saw cuts. Some re-releases reinstated sequences. RKO no longer distributed Walt’s animated features after Peter Pan was released in early 1953.
So, Fantasia has quite the history, and many, many logos…
The Film Proper…
Fantasia‘s title card first appears during the intermission…
A great font for an excellent film, very Art Deco. The length of the individual letters suggests that this film is going to be something big, something extraordinary, the cinematic equivalent of the future perhaps. Fantasia, something that will… As the old tagline said… Amaze ya.
The Roadshow and RKO years…
The roadshow era materials thankfully kept that lovely font.
When RKO gave the picture a general release, they substituted the simple fonts that they used for the majority of Snow White and Pinocchio‘s posters.
For the 1946 re-release, something a little more interesting was used for the one-sheet…
I feel the fonts in the 1942 and 1946 posters work better than the Snow White and Pinocchio poster fonts. A little less rounded, with sharper corners that suggest something more artistic, rather than something fun and lightweight. (Something Snow White and Pinocchio actually aren’t, Walt’s early films had plenty of serious and downright frightening moments in them.) I particularly like the one on the right, particularly the lines inside the letter forms.
Disney pushed the all-capital, sharp fonts for the 1956 re-release poster. This would be the first re-release handled by Disney’s own distribution arm, Buena Vista.
I really like the sizing here, too. That blow-out look keeps the idea that Fantasia is a big, big event of a film. With most of the missing scenes re-instated, Disney presented Fantasia in widescreen for the first time, though this didn’t go over as well as intended.
The poster for the 1963 re-release’s logo goes for flat-out simplicity, and I feel it’s the weakest of the bunch.
By 1963, Fantasia hadn’t turned a profit on any of its re-releases, so maybe Disney’s marketing arm felt that a much more accessible poster design would help the film sell to a contemporary audience. For the first time, we see lowercase letters come into the equation.
After this, the game completely changed…
The post-Walt re-releases…
Fantasia‘s next re-release was in late 1969, roughly three years after Walt Disney’s passing. Disney had caught wind of the film’s popularity with the psychedelic crowd. Fantasia, being a film that marries abstract visuals and ideas to equally abstract classical music selections, was a big hit with the young folk. It was unusual, considering where Disney was by 1969. They had firmly cemented their family-friendly, arguably American-as-apple-pie image by this point, and Fantasia… Well, being an early Walt Disney film that went above and beyond… It worked, it clicked for the teens, college students, and trippers.
Disney wisely took notice and went all out…
Heavily resembling the psychedelic concert posters of the era, where words in big letters were warped and distorted to create unique trippy shapes and patterns, this Fantasia poster is one of the best that Disney has ever created.
Fantasia finally turned a dime during this re-release. Walt’s film was ahead of its time, and how!
Of course, 8 years later, the psychedelia wave was long over. Disney’s designers went back to the font used on the 1963 poster. Night-and-day difference.
Years later, Disney decided to take advantage of technology once more… For the film’s 1982 re-release, an all-new soundtrack was recorded in then-new Dolby Stereo, which would be conducted by Irwin Kostal.
The fanciful font used here actually harks back to the film’s actual logo, and it’s quite nice. Something about the design of the “A” letterforms… It’s just right. Similar to the in-film logo, but unique on its own.
For now, I can’t find the poster used for the 1985 theatrical re-release. I’m going to assume that it resembled the poster Disney used for the film’s 1982 UK re-release, which deserves a mention, because…
Such a great font that goes all-out with a fantasy vibe, making the poster and film fit within the dark fantasy movie rush of the early 1980s. Fantasia may have many colorful moments, but there are plenty of dark and foreboding images in it too. This poster and logo, I think, perfectly capture that side of the film.
Finally, for the film’s 50th anniversary, Disney got it together and gave the original Leopold Stowkowski track a much needed restoration, they restored the film itself, and made it as close to – at the time – the roadshow version as possible. This 1990 re-release of the masterpiece, which ran 120 minutes, was the final one in the US… Save for some special Fathom Events screenings that took place over a year ago.
A grand-looking font, indeed, and I love how the 50th and Anniversary text are woven into it. It’s very seamless, and just very pretty to look at. Lavish, and perfectly fitting for an anniversary.
The home video releases…
Debuting on home video formats in late 1991, Disney went back to the in-film title card font and used that for the cover!
The text was in shiny gold, and even the “Walt Disney’s Masterpiece” heading was done up in this font. Fantasia truly was a release in the Walt Disney Classics video line that ran from 1984 to 1994, though at the last minute, the packaging was changed. Fantasia was considered so special, they kind of broke it off from the Classics line. They removed the Classics diamond logo on the spine of the case artwork, and the videotape label as well, and they simply made this edition look like a standalone release. Pop the tape in, however, and the program opens with the Classics logo!
Fantasia vaulted immediately after its release, and didn’t return until 2000 for its 60th Anniversary… Also the same year Fantasia 2000, the follow-up film nephew Roy E. Disney pushed and pushed for, went into general release!
For the standalone DVD, they kept the classic font.
The Fantasia DVD was also boxed with its successor, and a boatload of bonus features. The font was kept for that as well, but they did a semi-blow up effect for it. This was used for Fantasia 2000‘s logo as well.
It works well in that format. It keeps that Art Deco feel and the overall look of the original logo, you don’t lose much. Fantasia disappeared yet again, being a special league vault film, and wouldn’t return to home media until 2010…
For this release, which actually began life as a Diamond Edition before Disney decided to change the packaging at the last minute and make it seem like a standalone release (though if you run it on any Blu-ray player that reads the name of the disc on the menu, you’ll see that it’s truly a Diamond Edition despite the packaging saying otherwise… Just like the 1991 video release!), they used an all-new logo.
For some reason, Fantasia 2000 didn’t get a logo change. I can’t say I really like the current logo (as no home video release came after this), for me it’s a little too barebones. It does its job, yes, and it somewhat resembles the title card from the film, but compared to the 2009 Blu-ray logo for Snow White and the Steelbook logo for Pinocchio, it’s a bit disappointing. It also looks strange next to the slightly-altered Fantasia 2000 logo. The UK Blu-ray by contrast just said Fantasia (in the new font), and then “2 Movie Collection” below it, but the way Disney arranges their Blu-ray covers is another story for another day.
While we did see some deviations here and there over the decades, Fantasia‘s re-release material surprisingly stuck closely to the title card we see in the film. It’s that special that it can’t be ignored!