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The Swan Princess
Swanprincessposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Richard Rich
Produced by
  • Richard Rich
  • Jared F. Brown
Screenplay by Brian Nissen
Story by
  • Richard Rich
  • Brian Nissen
Narrated by Brian Nissen
Starring
Music by Lex de Azevedo
Editing by
  • Armetta Jackson-Hdamlett
  • James Koford
Studio
  • Nest Entertainment
  • Rich Animation Studios
Distributed by New Line Cinema (United States)
Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International (Internationally)
Release date(s) November 18, 1994 (1994-11-18)
Running time 90 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $21 million
Money made $9.8 million

The Swan Princess is a 1994 American animated musical fantasy film based on the ballet Swan Lake. Featuring the voice talents of Michelle Nicastro, Howard McGillin, Jack Palance, John Cleese, Steven Wright, Sandy Duncan, and Steve Vinovich, the film is directed by former Disney animation director, Richard Rich, with a music score by Lex de Azevedo. The film was distributed by New Line Cinema in the United States and by Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International outside the US (though Sony would gain the home video rights to the film worldwide via a deal with the production company Nest Entertainment). It was released theatrically on November 18, 1994, and grossed $9.8 million against a $21 million budget, becoming a box office bomb, partly due to struggling competition with a re-release of The Lion King (1994). The film would later become popular through home video releases and has since been followed by ten direct-to-video sequels and is the only film of the series to have a wide theatrical release.

The theme song "Far Longer than Forever" is performed by Regina Belle and Jeffrey Osborne. The song was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1995 for Best Original Song.

Plot

King William's (Dakin Matthews) chancellor, Sir Rothbart (Jack Palance), plans to take King William's kingdom for himself by mastering a type of dark magic known as The Forbidden Arts. Before he can strike, Rothbart is arrested. Despite calls for his death, King William spares Rothbart's life and banishes him forever. A hateful Rothbart swears revenge on King William and tells him that he will one day get his power back and take everything William owns and loves, but is banished to the evil and dangerous Swan Lake, which he makes his home.

Derek (Howard McGillin), who is the son of King William's friend, Queen Uberta (Sandy Duncan), only expresses love for William's daughter Odette's (Michelle Nicastro) beauty and she and her father leave disappointed. On their journey home, they are ambushed by Rothbart, who is now a sorcerer and transforms into a "Great Animal" with his new powers, kidnapping Odette and fatally injuring William. Derek arrives on the scene and William tells him about the Great Animal ("It's not what it seems"), and that Odette is gone before dying. After searching and finding no sign of Odette, the entire kingdom assumes that she is dead. Uberta encourages her son to find another princess, but Derek is determined to find Odette, believing that she is still alive. Derek and his best friend Bromley (Joel McKinnon Miller) practice hunting every day in preparation to face the Great Animal, with help from Uberta's valet, Lord Rogers (Mark Harelik). Elsewhere, Rothbart is keeping Odette captive at Swan Lake. He has cast a powerful spell that turns Odette into a swan during the day. At night, she can become human temporarily if she is on the lake when the moonlight touches it. Every night, Rothbart asks Odette to marry him so he can rule William's kingdom legally, but she refuses, then the moonlight leaves the lake, and she turns back into a swan. During her captivity, she befriends a turtle named Speed (Steven Wright), a French frog named Jean-Bob (John Cleese), who claims to be a prince, and an Irish puffin named Lieutenant Puffin (Steve Vinovich).

Puffin and Odette (in her swan form) fly together to find Derek. By chance, they stumble upon Derek in the woods as he is searching for the Great Animal. Derek mistakes Odette for the Great Animal (having deduced that the creature is a shapeshifter), and tries to kill her. The ensuing chase leads Derek to Swan Lake, where he witnesses Odette's change from swan to human when the moon rises. The two share a loving reunion, and Odette tells Derek that to break the spell, he must make a vow of everlasting love and "prove it to the world". Derek invites Odette to the ball at the castle the following night, hoping to declare to the world of his love for her. Derek leaves just as Rothbart arrives and doesn't know the enchanter heard the whole conversation. Rothbart tells Odette that she will never make it to the ball, for there will be "no moon" on that night. Further, Rothbart transforms his cheerful hag sidekick, Bridget, into Odette, hoping to fool Derek to make his vow to the wrong woman, which will kill the real Odette. On the night of the ball, Rothbart imprisons Odette (in swan form) in the dungeon of his castle, along with Bromley, whom he had found in the woods the other night. Bridget, in the form of human Odette, arrives at the ball where she dances with Derek, who is unaware of her true identity.

At Swan Lake, Puffin, Speed, and Jean-Bob manage to free Odette from the dungeon through a duel with two hungry alligators and she flies to the castle, but is too late. Derek makes the vow to the wrong girl and Rothbart bursts in, revealing to Derek the fake's true form. Realizing his mistake, Derek races after Odette back to Swan Lake, where she finally transforms back into her human form. As Derek holds a dying Odette in his arms, she tells him she loves him before succumbing. A furious Derek confronts Rothbart, demanding he undo the spell. Rothbart transforms into the Great Animal, and a battle ensues with Rothbart overpowering Derek. Odette's animal friends return Derek's bow to him, and Bromley, who has also escaped the dungeon, provides Derek with a single arrow. Derek catches and fires the arrow into the Great Animal's heart, killing him.

A heart-broken Derek confesses his love to Odette, and she revives; the spell on her is broken. Derek and Odette get married and they, along with Rogers, Uberta, King William's servants, Bromley, and the animals move into Rothbart's former castle. Meanwhile, Bridget redeems herself and falls in love with Uberta's lackey, Sir Chamberlain (James Arrington), Puffin becomes the general of an army of swans, Odette kisses Jean-Bob who goes into convulsions but does not turn into a prince, and Odette and Derek live happily ever after.

Voice cast

  • Michelle Nicastro as Princess Odette
    • Liz Callaway as Princess Odette (singing voice)
    • Adrian Zahiri as Young Princess Odette (voice)
  • Howard McGillin as Prince Derek
  • John Cleese as Jean-Bob
    • David Zippel as Jean-Bob (singing voice)
  • Steven Wright as Lorenzo Trudgealong (aka Speed)
    • Jonathan Hadary as Speed (singing voice)
  • Steve Vinovich as Lieutenant/General Puffin
  • Jack Palance as Sir Rothbart
    • Lex de Azevedo as Sir Rothbart (singing voice)
  • Sandy Duncan as Queen Uberta
  • James Arrington as Sir Chamberlain
    • Davis Gaines as Sir Chamberlain (singing voice)
  • Dakin Matthews as King William
  • Mark Harelik as Lord Rogers
  • Joel McKinnon Miller as Bromley
  • Bess Hopper as Bridget
  • Brian Nissen as the Narrator

Music

David Zippel was approached by Richard Rich to compose songs for The Swan Princess, while the score was composed by Lex de Azevedo.

The theme song "Far Longer than Forever" was written by lyricists by de Azevedo and Zippel. In the 1994 animated film, the song was performed by vocalists Liz Callaway (as the singing voice of Princess Odette) and Howard McGillin (as the speaking and singing voice of Prince Derek). In the closing credits, a pop/R&B rendition of the song was performed by recording artists Regina Belle and Jeffrey Osborne. Michelle Nicastro sings a reprise of the song in the 1997 sequel, Escape From Castle Mountain.

The New York Times wrote "The melody of 'Far Longer Than Forever' ... echoes the first five notes of Beauty and the Beast." Everything's Better With Bob deemed it the best song of the film due to being "void of all daft rhyming schemes that hit the rest of the songs in the film". The Animated Movie Guide noted that the song had a theme of faith. The "Far Longer Than Forever" commercial single was jointly released by Sony Wonder and Sony 550 Music. MusicHound Soundtracks: The Essential Album Guide to Film, Television and Stage Music called the "seemingly mandatory big ballad" "extremely annoying" due to "strik[ing] a totally different artistic note" in the context of the film's musical landscape. The Motion Picture Guide 1995 Annual: The Films of 1994 said the "love theme" was deserving of the Golden Globe. Star-News deemed the song "insistent", noting that audiences may "quickly get their fill" of the tune.

"Far Longer than Forever" was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1995 for Best Original Song.

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