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Extra "Fantasia" commentary audio may still exist...

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Somebody brought this up in a private forum and after some brief digging it turns out they weren’t kidding: according to the 1942 continuity draft, the dreadfully trimmed down RKO cut of Fantasia contains interstitial audio that isn’t even available on the longer general release prints. The first half of the Nutcracker commentary was kept (the drafts on Hans Perk’s animation blog confirm that there were more lines after the fade out present in the 2000 roadshow reconstruction), only one missing line from the Sorcerer’s Apprentice intro, a very decent portion of the Rite of Spring commentary (even the off-screen crash that interrupts Deems’ first attempt at introducing the segment was kept) and the full “Meet the Soundtrack” intro. See below…



My question now is does anybody have this version of the movie? Or at least aware of any collectors that may have it? It runs for a measly 80 minutes, and it apparently did show up once on eBay in 8mm and then never again. 35mm would be close to impossible to track down as those prints were likely nitrate and have long since deteriorated, but 8mm/16mm safety stock reprints of this thing, even if they’re faded beyond salvage, have to exist somewhere-- the main objective here is saving the sound. The missing interstitial audio isn’t substantial, but it’s still more of the original audio than we currently have access to for preservation projects, and I think it’d be really cool to restore it.

Holding out for a hero here.

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Does any of this match with the missing Deems narration that Corey Burton was brought in to dub?

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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SilverWook said:

Does any of this match with the missing Deems narration that Corey Burton was brought in to dub?

Identically. Save for just one word in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice intro (in the draft it’s “wrote his music,” but in the dub it’s “wrote the music” instead) it’s all the same.

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SpringBoob SquirePin said:

Identically. Save for just one word in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice intro (in the draft it’s “wrote his music,” but in the dub it’s “wrote the music” instead) it’s all the same.

I think another word may have been changed from the Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria intro. On the VHS tape that I own, Deems Taylor describes Ave Maria as “immortal”, whereas in the DVD version, he describes it as “world-famous”. I’m not sure whether Deems Taylor says “immortal” in the original roadshow version, but I think the VHS tape implies that he does.

UncutIsSuperior

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The general release version of the finale introduction has to be a dub. In the reinstated roadshow footage, Taylor is very clearly mouthing “world famous” instead of “immortal.” To be sure, I tried lining up the LaserDisc audio with the roadshow footage and it didn’t sync properly without constantly cutting up the audio and shifting it every which way. Might post a video of that soon.

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I have a better idea. We could try to find a copy of the very first general release from 1941. This version is 20 seconds longer than the roadshow version, due to the inclusion of an RKO logo. Anything is possible, we just need to look hard enough.

UncutIsSuperior

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The cut you’re thinking of is not the general release, which received a much wider, nationwide distribution, but a slightly modified recut of the original roadshow version which, yes, did bare the RKO logo before the program started to indicate the company’s then-recent distribution takeover; nothing else was changed. In a perfect world finding a copy of this would be ideal, but the problem is that even if you were able to track it down, it would not contain even a mono downmix of the original soundtrack, let alone the original stereophonic mix, because both the footage and soundtrack ran on completely separate reels of 35mm nitrate film. Tracking down the original nitrate soundtrack has been a fruitless effort, too, as the last one that survived by 1955 no longer exists today. Just a 4-track magnetic copy of it, which was used for the 1956, 1963, and 1969 releases.

Considering the original stems are long lost, I truly do believe that the best bet right now is to get a clean capture of the mag stereo soundtrack and the 80min RKO cut (from a reprint if those are still around) that contains some of the missing Taylor audio. That combined with an uncensored IB Tech print, along with the interstitial and intermission footage from the Blu-ray, would yield the most complete version of this movie that uses as many of the original elements as possible.

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Well, according to Lost Media Wiki, Disney has reportedly been trying their very hardest to restore the Deems Taylor monologues. I sure hope that they succeed someday, as recreating the original roadshow version is the first project in my rebellion against censoring animation. Until that happens, I could just use the audio from my VHS tape and then record the missing audio myself. And if the 1942 re-release is still available, I could replace my own voice on the extra parts with Deems Taylor’s audio.

UncutIsSuperior

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That article isn’t the most reputable source for lost Fantasia material. Unless there’s citation-- and sadly, there isn’t-- then it’s just hearsay.

The original sound stems aren’t “lost,” that would imply that someone’s just unknowingly keeping them stored away in their attic, basement, or storage room somewhere. They were nitrate 35mm film reels, which have a horrible reputation for either deteriorating fast under bad storage conditions, or bursting into flames that even water can’t put out. You don’t even have to look further than the film’s 2000 DVD “making of” featurette for the following factoid: no more than 12-14 Fantasound prints were ever manufactured. All but one of those prints were junked, which allowed a 4-track magnetic copy to be created via then-high-quality RCA telephone wires. That’s it. That telephone wire transfer is all we have left today. The first generation nitrate stems, which contained Taylor’s complete commentary segments, have sadly been lost forever to time.

The magnetic stereo soundtrack and reprints of the 80min RKO cut contain all that have survived of the original Taylor commentaries. Several preservationists have already made efforts to capture the mag stereo mix (in fact, I have the 1969 release on loan from a very generous collector and I intend to have it preserved as soon as possible), so we can rest assured that that mix will surface in decent quality soon enough. Locating a good reprint of the RKO cut is the real trick.

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Couldn’t we get anything from the telephone wires?

Ol’ George has the GOUT, I see.

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I had the same thought some time ago, but I have no idea where the telephone transfer ended up after the magnetic stereo prints were made. I’m not sure if RCA immediately junked their copy or if it ended up in somebody else’s hands after the company went under, but whatever the case, and until someone pops out of nowhere with those RCA mag reels, it seems that copy was sadly lost to time as well.

I’m telling you, the soundtrack to this film could not catch a break.

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SpringBoob SquirePin said:
The first generation nitrate stems, which contained Taylor’s complete commentary segments, have sadly been lost forever to time.

The Deems Taylor monologues may be lost right now, but nothing is lost forever. Disney probably is trying their very hardest to find the Deems Taylor monologues and we can only hope that someday, they succeed, preferably by 2036, which is the year Fantasia will become public domain.

UncutIsSuperior