An American Tail is an old movie, to us anyway, and it is a fun adventure starting a talking animal… a mouse.
No this isn’t The Rescuers by Disney or Jerry from Tom & Jerry, Fievel is our hero and the tale begins in the late nineteenth century. Fievel Mousekewitz and his family are forced to abandon their home in Russia because the cat problem is just that bad, so they leave for America to live the American Dream “where there are no cats and the streets are paved with cheese” of course. It was a sleeper hit and earned a lot of money, apparently to Disney’s chagrin. Of course, this is Don Bluth we’re talking about, what on Earth did you expect?
It is a cute movie, as most animated films tend to be, but deep within this cuteness proximity is a deep story about persecution. The Mousekewitz live in fear of the feline gangs that roam their streets, paralleling a real life issue for many of live in crime-magnet areas. Because this is an animated film there is of course music at every turn, if only because animated films must have a soundtrack that blows the budget!
Fievel is voiced by Phillip Glasser and life is breathed into this little mouse who has dreams of rejoining his family after he is lost at sea and presumed dead. His family grieves but most move on as they deal with new, and at times more difficult, challenges than the cats of Russia ever posed; the cat-mafia of New York City. All the while, Fievel is in the same city, having floated there via a bottle that somehow makes it across the ocean. He befriends a pigeon named Henri and finds himself in an assortment of adventures after being sold to a sweatshop by Warren T. Rat.
Determined to find his family, however, Fievel refuses to give up and does everything in his power to overcome oppression in 19th century America.
This movie was a surprise hit to the viewers of the eighties, what with The Little Mermaid and all, but it simply proves once more that Disney does not and should not hold the monopoly on animated films.
Animated films in the US are intended for children in distinct comparison to other countries in which case animated movies and shows are targeted towards a variety of people of all ages because that’s how you make a profit. That does not mean that this is a bad thing or a good thing, it’s just a cultural thing.
So, take a moment and enjoy this animated film. You might actually find parallels to life as we know it today.