Newest Reviews
Flamingo Kid, The
Queen, The
Avengers: Endgame
Vanishing Act
Critters Attack!
Prison on Fire
Dragged Across Concrete
Do the Right Thing
Pond Life
Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, The
Third Wife, The
Follow Me
Fugitive Girls
Missing Link
Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, The
Pet Sematary
Oh... Rosalinda!!
Night Is Short, Walk On Girl
Knight of Shadows: Between Yin and Yang, The
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich
Killer Crocodile
Nutcracker Prince, The
Secret World of Og, The
Fifth Cord, The
Man Could Get Killed, A
Cyborg 009: Kaiju War
Heavy Trip
Nightmare Weekend
Blue Ice
Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday, The
Incident, The
Hell's Angels
Newest Articles
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy on Blu-ray
Hammer's Bloodthirsty Bad Girls 1970: Lust for a Vampire and Countess Dracula
Hammer to Fall: Kiss Me Deadly on Blu-ray
Home of the Grave: The House That Dripped Blood and Asylum on Blu-ray
Wondrous Women: Supergirl vs Captain Marvel
Things Have Changed: Films You'd Be Insane to Make Now
The Hole in the Ground: Director Lee Cronin Interview
She's Missing: Director Alexandra McGuinness Interview
Woo's the Boss: Last Hurrah for Chivalry & Hand of Death on Blu-ray
Get Ahead in Showbiz: Expresso Bongo and It's All Happening
Outer Space and Outta Sight: Gonks Go Beat on Blu-ray
  Swan Lake True love conquers allBuy this film here.
Year: 1981
Director: Kimio Yabuki
Stars: Christopher Atkins, Pam Dawber, Kay Lenz, David Hemmings
Genre: Animated, Romance, Fantasy, Adventure
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Inspired by Tchaikovsky’s great ballet, Swan Lake was one of the last fairytale anime Toei made before the studio scaled back their ambitions and cranked out Dragonball, Sailor Moon and Doraemon features throughout the next twenty years. The film was much admired in Japan, where fans actually stole 2,500 cels during production, and Russia where it won an award at the Moscow Film Festival, but wound up a cult curio in its English dub on the strength of an eclectic cast.

Young Prince Siegfried (Christopher Atkins, from The Blue Lagoon (1980)) is out riding by the lake when he spies a beautiful swan wearing a golden crown. His overzealous huntsman tries to bring back a trophy, but when he takes aim with bow and arrow, an evil-looking owl swoops down and turns him to stone. Watching from the trees, clever squirrels Margarita and Hans know there is magic afoot. Poor Hans is rather miffed, since Margarita is so infatuated with the handsome prince she rejects his proposal of marriage! “Oh Hans, why can’t you be more like Prince Siegfried?” she swoons like a lovestruck teenager.

Siegfried follows the swan to a gloomy castle, where she transforms into lovely Princess Odette (Mork & Mindy’s Pam Dawber) whom, it transpires, is under a spell cast by the wicked magician Rothbart (David Hemmings). By day she’s a swan, by night she’s human, but imprisoned in Rothbart’s creepy lair. The spell may only be broken by the man who proclaims his undying love for Odette at the midnight hour. Smitten, Siegfried vows to do so at the royal ball where he is set to choose a bride, but Rothbart’s daughter Odille (Kay Lenz) learns of this and hatches a devious plan.

It’s a shame Swan Lake isn’t available in a subtitled Japanese version, since Christopher Atkins makes dashing, heroic Prince Siegfried rather more whiny and petulant than the creators intended. Nonetheless, this is an exceptionally handsome anime that benefits from the artistry of veteran Kimio Yabuki, who helmed Toei’s biggest hit The Wonderful World of Puss ’n’ Boots (1969). Pastel hued visuals provide a perfect accompaniment to Tchaikovsky’s beautiful score, while Yabuki contrasts good and evil via outstanding character designs and lustrous backdrops: dreamy, mist-veiled lakes and idyllic forests versus dark, misshapen mountains and Rothbart’s eerie, green lair shaped like a demon’s mouth. It’s a beguilingly innocent fairyland sprinkled with Disneyesque touches like a row of ballet-dancing cygnets.

Sixties icon David Hemmings is a real hoot as Rothbart. He glowers magnificently, while Kay Lenz lends a sexy purr to the rather chic Odille (“That Prince Siegfried is a dreamboat on wheels!”). Pam Dawber sounds a little too mature to play a winsome, teenage princess but offers a surprisingly impassioned vocal performance. Stars of the show are undoubtedly the squirrels, Margarita and Hans whose rom-com sparring provides a witty counterpoint to the fairytale romance (Margarita’s response to a compliment: “You know, Hans? Flattery will get you everywhere”). More proactive than your average Disney animal sidekicks, Hans and Margarita emerge as the film’s real heroes, as they foil traps, subdue villains and keep the lovers out of harm’s way. All the while without the human characters understanding a word they’re saying. Makers of Shrek movies take note - they’re also sassy without being obnoxious, as when Hans sets off to rescue Odette. “I’m so proud of you”, says Margarita. Hans replies: “Will you be proud of me when I’m dead?”
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 9040 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
Enoch Sneed
  Derrick Smith
Darren Jones


Last Updated: