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The Swan Princess is a 1994 American animated fantasy musical film based on the ballet "Swan Lake". Starring the voice talents of Jack Palance, John Cleese, Steven Wright, and Sandy Duncan, the film is directed by a former Disney animation director, Richard Rich, with a music score by Lex de Azevedo. The film was followed by two direct-to-video sequels: Escape from Castle Mountain (1997) and The Mystery of the Enchanted Treasure (1998). As of 2019, 6 more sequels have been produced.


The film begins with an aging king named William (Dakin Matthews) who has a baby daughter named Odette and a friend of Queen Uberta (Sandy Duncan). While King William's newborn daughter Odette and Queen Uberta's toddler-aged son Derek get acquainted, evil was afoot. William’s former chancellor-turned-enchanter, Sir Rothbart (Jack Palance), has his own different plan; he decides to take William's kingdom for himself by mastering a type of black magic, known as the Forbidden Arts. Before he can go ahead with his plot, his tower is attacked and he was arrested by King William's men. Before he was banished from the kingdom, Rothbart vowed that one day, everything King William owned and loved will be his.

When Odette and Derek are children, William and Uberta decided to have Odette (Adrian Zahiri) and the Queen's son, Prince Derek (Adam Wylie), meet every summer with hopes they'll fall in love so as to unite their kingdoms. At first, while Odette and Derek are yet children, it failed miserably. But as the years pass and the two reach young adulthood, they finally begin to strongly fall madly in love. However, during a royal ball, Derek (Howard McGillin) expresses his wish to marry Odette (Michelle Nicastro) just for her beauty, which upsets her into rejecting him again. She leaves the next day with her father, but they are intercepted en route by Rothbart, who is now an enchanter again and uses his new powers to transform into a "Great Animal" (a hybrid monster with the head of a wolf, the body of a bat, the feet of an eagle, and the tail of a lizard). He takes Odette and fatally injures William. King William's captain returns to Queen Uberta's castle and informs everyone present that they were attacked by a Great Animal. Derek arrives on the scene where William warns him with his dying breath that they were attacked by a Great Animal that is "not what it seems". Despite Uberta's efforts to find another princess for her son to marry, Derek becomes fiercely determined to find Odette. He and his life long chap, Bromley (Joel McKinnon Miller), practice hunting each day to hopefully kill the Great Animal and save Odette, with the help of Uberta’s butler, Lord Rogers (Mark Harelik).

Elsewhere, Rothbart has taken Odette to his castle lair at Swan Lake and cast a transformational spell on her that makes her turn into a swan during the day and a human again during the night. The spell can only be broken by a vow of everlasting romantic love. He asks her to marry him every night so he can rule William's kingdom legally, as taking it by force is too much damage, but she always refuses to go hunting. During her captivity, she befriends an old turtle named Speed (Steven Wright), a French frog named Jean-Bob (John Cleese), and Lieutenant Puffin (Steve Vinovich), an Irishpuffin bird. Puffin, after learning about the workings of Rothbart's evil spell, devises a plan to reunite Odette with Derek. Together with Lieutenant Puffin, Odette finds Derek, who has gone searching for her with Bromley; however, he mistakes her for the Great Animal and tries to murder her. The ensuing chase leads Derek to Swan Lake, where he witnesses Odette change from swan to human. The two share a happy loving reunion, but almost immediately, Rothbart comes calling. At Odette's insistence, Derek leaves with the hopes of meeting her at a ball being held by Uberta the following night. Unfortunately, Rothbart finds Derek's bow (which Derek left behind), warns Odette that there will be no moon the next night, and has her, in swan form, imprisoned in the dungeon, along with Bromley, who got lost in the woods. Rothbart then plans to send his hag sidekick Bridget, disguised as Odette, to the ball instead.

Odette's friends free her, but when she reaches the ball, she sees that she has been replaced and tries to warn Derek; she fails, partly due to Bridget's attempts to keep Derek from seeing her, and Derek makes the vow to Bridget. Rothbart arrives and reveals that Derek's vow, given to the wrong woman, will cause his spell to kill Odette. She flies back to Swan Lake as Rothbart's curse drains her life force while Derek, desperate to save her, races after; he arrives too late, and she dies in his arms, but not before she warns him she loves him. A furious Derek confronts Rothbart, demanding that he not allow Odette to die. To Derek's surprise, Sir Rothbart transforms into the Great Animal and an intense battle ensues with Rothbart overpowering Derek and almost murdering him. Fortunately, Odette's animal friends return Derek's longbow to him, and Bromley, who has escaped from his earlier imprisonment in the dungeon, provides Derek with a single arrow; Derek catches it and fires the arrow straight-and-true into Rothbart's heart as he explodes upon smashing into the lake. And that was the end of Sir Rothbart.

After Rothbart's death, his spell on Princess Odette is broken and she returns to life to hear Derek say that he truly does love her for her courage and kindness and always had. The two are soon married and live happily ever after.

Voice cast

  • Michelle Nicastro as Odette, a princess who transforms into a swan during the day time. Liz Callaway provides her singing voice. Adrian Zahiri provides young Odette's speaking and singing voice
  • Howard McGillin as Derek, the son of Uberta. Adam Wylie and J.D. Daniels provide young Derek's singing voices.
  • Sandy Duncan as Queen Uberta, Derek's mother.
  • Jack Palance as Sir Rothbart, an enchanter who casts a spell on Odette. Lex de Azevedo, the film's composer, provides Rothbart's singing voice.
  • John Cleese as Jean-Bob, a French frog. David Zippel provides his singing voice.
  • Steven Wright as Speed, a turtle. Jonathan Hadary provides Speed's singing voice.
  • Steve Vinovich as Puffin, a Scottish/Irish bird.
  • Dakin Matthews as King William, Odette's father.
  • Mark Harelik as Lord Rogers, Uberta’s posh butler.
  • Joel McKinnon Miller as Bromley, Derek's best friend. Wes Brewer provides his singing voice.
  • James Arrington as Sir Chamberlain, Uberta’s comical and jolly lackey. Davis Gaines provides Sir Chamberlain's singing voice.
  • Brian Nissen as the narrator

Additional voices provided by: Charity Brown, Al Baldwin, Les Lye, Robert Bockstael .

Musical numbers

Main article: The Swan Princess (soundtrack)
  1. Prologue
  2. This is My Idea
  3. Practice, Practice, Practice
  4. Far Longer than Forever
  5. No Fear Guy More
  6. No Fear (Reprise) (featured only in the film; not in the soundtrack)
  7. Princesses on Parade
  8. Far Longer than Forever (End Titles) - Regina Belle and Jeffrey Osborne
  9. Eternity (End Titles) - Dreams Come True


Having previously directed The Fox and the Hound and The Black Cauldron, Richard Rich was slated to co-direct Oliver & Company until he was fired by Disney feature animation president Peter Schneider.[2] Following his departure from Disney, he subsequently formed his own studio, Rich Animation Studios with about 26 employees, in which most of his key employees came from Disney, including the company's marketing chief, Matt Mazer.[3] Subsequently, Jared F. Brown from Living Scriptures, Inc. tapped Rich into producing half-hour animated videos based on the audio cassettes readings of the Book of Mormon.[4]

Inspired by the success of Don Bluth's animated films as well as Disney's early-1990s animation renaissance, Rich considered the idea of making a motion picture. After many stories were considered, such as Rabbit Hill, Buccaneer Boys and The First Dog, he decided to adapt the German folk tale version of Swan Lake, with a screenplay co-written by Brian Nissen.[5][6] During production, the script went through twelve drafts over the course of two years. Rich would later attempt to sell his script to several Hollywood studios to no success.[7] Later, Brown struck on the idea on merging Rich Animation Studios, Family Entertainment Network, and Cassette Duplicators Inc., a cassette-duplicating operation in West Valley City, into one production holding company called Nest Entertainment.[4]

The film was created by hand painting cels, a tedious technique which caused Rich and his crew to take over four years to produce the final product.[8][9] Overall, 275 animators and artists worked throughout the film's production.[7]

Sound effects

Award-winning sound effects editor Jim Koford considered three sounds to be used from the studio's sound library, and mixed to make the sound for The Great Animal: an electronically altered lion growl, a metal screech, and a high-pitched cry from a cow. The sound of its flapping wings was created by opening and closing an umbrella. Wooden sticks were also used, when it breaks the tree limb and attacks Derek.[10]



The Swan Princess received U.S. theatrical release on November 18, 1994, and only made $2,445,155 on its opening weekend.[11] It eventually had a total domestic gross of $9,771,658, resulting as a box office bomb due to struggling competition with Star Trek: Generations, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, The Santa Clause, Léon: The Professional, Stargate, Pulp Fiction, Miracle on 34th Street, and the re-release of The Lion King.[12]

The critical response to The Swan Princess was mixed. Currently, the film has a "C" grade at Box Office Mojo. As of 2010, Rotten Tomatoes has a 44% ("rotten") score, based on 8 reviews. However, one of its three "fresh" ratings there was from Roger Ebert (three out of four stars). The user reviews are positive, scoring only about 64% on RT Community.

Home video

The Swan Princess was originally released on home video on April 11, 1995, and sold over 2.5 million units.[13] In certain European countries, the full The Swan Princess trilogy was released in a 2-disc double-sided set on February 16, 2004. On March 30, 2004 the film was re-released to mark its 10-year anniversary, with a new cover for the video and Special Edition DVD. The Special Edition DVD contains a few extras, including trailers, a read-along feature, a sing-along feature and games. On August 2, 2005, The Swan Princess was released as a double-feature DVD with its sequel The Swan Princess: The Mystery of the Enchanted Kingdom. In the US the film along with its sequels is only available in FullScreen, as opposed to the European releases where the film is preserved in its original 1.85:1 Widescreen aspect ratio. Currently a Widescreen DVD and Blu-ray haven't been announced.


Three sequels have been made to the Swan Princess film: The Swan Princess II: Escape from Castle Mountain (alternately subtitled The Secret of the Castle in some DVD releases), The Swan Princess: The Mystery of the Enchanted Kingdom (alternately The Mystery of the Enchanted Treasure), and The Swan Princess Christmas.

The first two sequels deal with the heroes having to face two other evil magic-wielders: the crazy yet comical magician Sir Clavius (Swan II), and the wicked witch Zelda (Swan III) — both of whom were/are former allies of Rothbart (and both of whom Rothbart betrayed). Most of the main voice cast did not return for the sequels, save for Michelle Nicastro, who reprised her role as Odette (and this time did her own singing), and Steve Vinovich, who reprised his role as Puffin. Each sequel reprises some instrumental scoring from the original film by Lex de Azevedo together with all new songs and music by Lex de Azevedo and Clive Romney. Similarly occasional background and animation sequence art from the original Swan Princess film was reused when applicable but most was created new for each sequel. Swan Princess II animation features hand-painted cels like the original film but Swan III has digitally-painted cels. Overseas production for all three films was by Hanho Heung-Up Co., Seoul, South Korea.

The Swan Princess Christmas was released in November 2012 in time for holiday sales. Unlike the prior films, Swan Christmas was created entirely in CGI, featuring three-dimensional characters rather than the traditional 2-D animation of the prior films.[14]

See also


  1. "Company Town Annex", Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2012-06-05. 
  2. Template:Cite AV media
  3. Citron, Rich. "Rich Hopes to Strike It in Animation", Los Angeles Times, December 21, 1993. Retrieved on February 6, 2018. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Porter, Donald. "Richard Rich", Standard-Examiner, Blogger, November 19, 1994. Retrieved on February 6, 2018. 
  5. Porter, Donald. "Richard Rich", The Occasional Critic, November 19, 1994. Retrieved on April 24, 2019. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Hicks, Chris. "The Swan Princess", Deseret News, November 18, 1994. Retrieved on February 6, 2018. 
  8. Review: The Swan Princess. Reel Views. Retrieved on May 7, 2014.
  9. Hollywood Musicals Year by Year - Stanley Green - Google Books. Retrieved on May 7, 2014. 
  11. "Weekend Box Office : Appealing to All 'Generations'", Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2012-06-05. 
  12. "Company Town : 'Swan' Sticks Its Neck Out but Still Gets the Ax : Film: Poor box office opening resurrects age-old question: Can an animated movie be a hit if it isn't made by Disney?", Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2012-06-05. 
  13. Template:Cite magazine
  14. Trailer for 'The Swan Princess Christmas' Released. The Rotoscopers (13 October 2012).

External links

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