The Swan Princess may be celebrating its 25th anniversary, but watching the Blu-ray release that coincided with this occasion was my first opportunity to see the film. I probably should have watched it for the first time at a younger age, because The Swan Princess is a film that is far easier to love with nostalgia attached. For me, I had no childhood connection and was simply able to see how dated both the narrative and the animation style truly is.
Based on the classic fairy tale and ballet, “
,” this New Line
Cinema film was clearly attempting to compete with the Disney resurgence in the
1990s. With former Disney employee, Richard Rich, as director of the film, it
is quite clear the imitative intentions of the production. Unfortunately, The Swan Princess had to compete with an
actual Disney film and failed horribly at the box office. Somehow that did not
stop eight direct-to-video sequels. Swan
Based on a classic text or not, the story in The Swan Princess feels horribly dated in terms of gender roles. A princess named Odette (voiced by Michelle Nicastro) is turned into a swan by the evil sorcerer Rothbart (Jack Palance) who desires her as his bride along with the kingdom which would come with it. The handsome prince Derek (Howard McGillin) is heartbroken at the disappearance of Odette, having had a future marriage with her planned since childhood. Little does Derek know that Odette is still alive, only able to transform back into her human form in the moonlight of the lake.
With a kidnapped princess and a sorcerer who turns into dragon-like beast at the end, this film shares more with classic Disney than it did the 90s incarnation, which may be why it did not do that well. It may have felt dated even when it was released, and the last 25 years haven’t been any kinder. Nostalgia is the primary reason I see anyone purchasing this Blu-ray, though it does come with some new special features.
The Blu-ray release should be primarily about the high definition presentation of the film, but it doesn’t look that great to me. Again, it may be that it never was. There is a new featurette included in the extras, however, along with an original making-of featurette. The new featurette is “Looking Back at 25 Years of The Swan Princess.” Also included are five sing-along versions of the films songs.
Entertainment Value: /10
Quality of Filmmaking: /10
Historical Significance: /10
Special Features: /10