Good news everyone! You’re going to the cannibalistic world known as… Oh, sorry that’s the wrong animated character (Sorry Professor Farnsworth, maybe when we do TV reviews you’ll get your chance to shine!).
This review is about an adorable fairytale that wasn’t made by Disney! Say hello to Princess Odette, a young girl who wants nothing more than to not marry Prince Derek from a neighboring kingdom, a match set up from birth for Odette (Michelle Nicasto) and a very young age of Derek (Howard McGillin)… all but immediately after her mother died during childbirth (something that isn’t ever mentioned on screen but come on… the Queen never shows up once). Once the two of them are of a slightly more mature age, let’s say six or seven, King William (Dakin Matthews) and Queen Uberta (Sandy Duncan) conduct annual visits of three months to Queen Uberta’s kingdom, and we can only hope that the King has some form of regent looking over his… never mind that actually makes so much sense as to how the evil sorcerer Rothbart (Jack Palance) could plan and plot without ever being caught by the Royal Guard.
In the meantime, over the years Odette and Derek find themselves disagreeing on everything and always getting into one another’s way. Odette, starting as a precocious child, grows into a tomboy who wants nothing more than to just play with Derek and his friend Bromley (Joel McKinnon Miller). As young girls’ trend to do, but not Princesses who are named Merida, they grow out of their tomboyish phase and learn about boys! Which tends to annoy Derek more than her wanting to actually play rough house with him. Oh young romance how dreamy you can be!
The years continue to tick by until, let’s say eighteen to twenty two based on figures and maturity, plus the age of majority for ruling a kingdom in what is obviously based on some form of medieval European country, and William and Uberta hope desperately that this, Derek and Odette’s last meeting that something will come of it. Thankfully, all of their hard work and effort over what is more than likely a decade, Derek and Odette are breath taken by who they have grown up to be and love at last sight is a new thing. They dance, they smile, and then reality sets in with a single question, “What else?”
This film trumps Disney in a single regard that has only just come to their attention, a long lasting mature relationship cannot, I repeat, CANNOT be expected to be of any kind of substance when you know someone for a day (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White), based on a lie (Aladdin, Princess and the Frog the last of which was in 2009 but at least spent the ENTIRE film focusing on a relationship), or simple fascination with their looks (The Little Mermaid, 1989 but which had the courtesy of moving beyond pure physical attraction to something a little deeper and… okay three days is still an awful timeframe to get married). In comparison, while it may have been during a montage, Derek and Odette have known one another for at least ten to twelve years and when they actually start to feel something for one another, Odette is quick to crush it when she realizes that Derek doesn’t know why he loves her and the only reason he can come up with is her beauty.
Their relationship is anything but easy over the years, but the rest of the film builds them up so that when they actually do reach a natural relationship it is worth so much more than most other relationships in this medium. But this is just the underlying plot, the rest of the film deals with the titular Swan.
Odette, having refused a marriage proposal from Derek, leaves with her father for their kingdom when they are assaulted, William is killed and Odette is captured leading to a search effort spearheaded by Derek to find Odette and prove his love to her.
Captured by the disgraced sorcerer Rothbart, who wants to be a king “legally,” Odette is cursed to become a Swan every day with her only respite being at night if she can make it to the lake and float under the moon’s brilliant shine. Rather than being a damsel in distress who is simply waiting for someone to find her despite having no clue where to start searching for her, Odette, with her new friends Speed (a turtle, Steven Wright), Jean-Bob (A frog with dreams of being the star of the fairytale but this isn’t the Princess and the Frog so wait your turn – John Cleese), and Puffin (a… puffin voiced by Steve Vinovich), goes out and finds her true love to try and convince him of her plight.
This is a beautiful film and I think that adults and children alike can enjoy its beautiful score, the entertaining songs, and the funny characters.