Coming to Bluray celebrating the 25th Anniversary of its 1994 release from director Richard Rich and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is a story filled with magic and enchantment with THE SWAN PRINCESS.
Odette is a young princess born to King William (Dakin Matthews) and he couldn’t be happier. Not so happy is the evil sorcerer Rothbart (Jack Palance) who has vowed revenge to take the kingdom for himself until he is banished. As Odette (Michelle Nicastro) begins to grow, Queen Uberta (Sandy Duncan) wants to introduce her to son Derek (Howard McGillin) and after years of learning about one another, fall in love.
But Odette thinks he only loves her for beauty and nothing more. Returning home the vengeful Rothbart attacks their carriage and takes Odette leaving the King injured. Derek goes after his love but it is too late as the King informs him that she is gone and the kingdom believes her to be gone forever. Determined to find Odette, Derek is joined by Bromely (Joel Miller) and Lord Rogers (Mark Harelik) honing their skills to face what the King called the Great Animal.
Rothbart has Odette at Swan Lake and wasting no time he casts a spell turning the young girl into a swan during the day and human for a short time at night. He tells her that this will continue until she agrees to marry him. Knowing his plan to rule her father’s kingdom, she continues to refuse. While a swan, Odette makes friends with a turtle Speed (Steven Wright), French frog Jean-Bob (John Cleese) and an Irish puffin named, well Puffin (Steve Vinovich).
It is Odette the swan and Puffin that look for Derek discovering him looking for the Great Animal. Having the chance to speak with the human Odette, she tells him the only thing that can break the spell is an open declaration of love. Derek tells her to come to the castle where a ball is taking place to do just that – declare his love.
Rothbart has heard the plan but has a plan of his own. The real Odette is thrown into a dungeon turning a woman named Bridget into a copy of Odette, it is she who goes to the ball which starts a chain of doom. Even as the animals come to her aid as much as they can, Derek will do what he must to fight the Great Animal and save the only happiness he has ever known.
But will he be in time to save their love?
Nicastro as Odette lends her lovely voice to a young girl who spends her whole life trying to find true love. When she does, she isn’t quite sure whether it is her outer beauty he loves or also sees her inner beauty. In a snap decision to leave Derek behind, it leaves the door open for Rothbart to swoop in and change her life. McGillin as Derek is a young man who, at first, isn’t thrilled with the idea of Odette in his life but soon realizes she is what he didn’t know he was looking for. Realizing his mistake he takes it upon himself to find her and set the world right again.
Palance as Rothbart does what he has always been good at, being a tough guy and in this case a tough kind of evil guy. Being nasty in order to get a kingdom is his plan and nothing is going to stop him from accomplishing his goal. Well, that’s what he thinks anyway because love has a way of changing the evilest of plans.
Vinovich as Puffin is adamant that he get Odette where she needs to be to make the world of love right again. He is such a strong character and his accent just makes him oh so more endearing. Wright as Speed is a turtle who is in a hurry to not be in a hurry. His friendship with Odette is very important to him as he wants his friend to be happy first and foremost. Cleese as Jean-Bob the frog just continually cracked me up but that’s what he’s always been good at as well, entertaining everyone with his humor.
Matthews as King William absolutely adores his daughter and only wants her every happiness. When she is taken it is heartbreaking for him but he knows she isn’t gone forever. Duncan as Queen Uberta wants her son married as soon as possible and if it’s not Odette then another girl would do just as well. Having the ball at the castle gives her a chance to find a quick replacement.
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The Bluray Special Features include Looking Back at 25 Years of THE SWAN PRINCESS, The Swan Princess: The Original Making of and Five Sing-A-Longs.
Director Rich has taken the German tale of Swan Lake and brought it to animation in such a beautiful way. Taken over four years to create due to original hand painted cels, over 275 animators and artists brought the film to life. THE SWAN PRINCESS is the winner of the Film Advisory Board Award of Excellence and the Parents’ Choice Award.
This animated version of THE SWAN PRINCESS is so entertaining, fun, and covers about ever theme you can imagine when it comes to love, family and friendship. The songs are catchy and it is quite easy to catch yourself toe tapping or shoulder bobbing along, even when Rothbart breaks out into his ‘No More Mister Nice Guy’ routine.
What is most amazing about THE SWAN PRINCESS is that the film is celebrating its 25th year but there is nothing on the Bluray that would show its age. Instead it is stunningly colorful and could easily fit into place in any family’s home entertainment library. It feels as fresh as the day it was released and my daughter is thrilled to be able to share with my granddaughter a story and film that she was raised on and remembers with heartfelt fondness. Now, three generations of gals can sit together and share THE SWAN PRINCESS.
In the end – it is an enchanting classic destined to capture your heart and free your spirit!