Why Bartok's story is something special.
Thorin N. Tatge | Minneapolis, Minnesota | 08/21/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I would never have expected, even with family sequels so prevalent nowadays, that anyone would think of making a movie to track the life of Rasputin's tiny sidekick in Anastasia. I guess I'm not alone in what character traits appeal to me, however. Interestingly enough, some days before I saw Anastasia I woke from a dream in which the villain and sidekick from Disney's Aladdin, Jafar and the parrot Iago, were floating on an abandoned raft during a nighttime lightning storm and lamenting their mistakes together. It seemed foolish when I woke, because those characters were nothing like what my dream made them to be... but when I saw Anastasia, I was amazed at how well Rasputin and Bartok fit the bill. I didn't think anyone else would be so charmed at how the helpful bat-like creature offered sensible advice to his evil liege even while dragging back his fallen-off body parts and displaying a general sort of affection. What a great little guy, I thought, and what a pity he's fallen into such bad company. It was heartwarming to see him turn to the aid of good at the end. All that is why Bartok the Magnificent charmed me so much. It's certainly not a sequel to Anastasia, and I'm sorry the previous reviewer was expecting it to be. It's a spin-off, rather, for anyone curious whether that little whitebat managed to make anything of his life after abandoning his master. What fun to see that he's pursued the life of street showman, which seems oddly appropriate. This movie is casual and makes little effort to establish a setting, which groups it with other sequels/spin-offs and is why I give it only four stars, not five. Chronologically, the characters shown on the Russian throne make no sense and beg the question of what happened to Princess Anastasia. Yet, when we view this Moscow as something of an unreliable fairytale land (and the movie does follow certain tenets of fairy-tales), it seems quite believable. Bartok is obviously the hero of his movie, and he lives up to the role well. He is immodest, an unusual trait among genuine heroes, but it works on him. Of especial note is the fact that while his integrity is questioned at times, hardly anyone ever points out that Bartok is quite small--so how could he make anything of himself? Naturally, this issue itself has been explored time and again in children's movies and books, and is properly treated as a sidenote here. For his part, Bartok is all the more inspiring by how he resourcefully makes use of the physique he has. He is never shown doing anything unrealistic for his size or strength, and neither is there much of the inordinate luck small characters in movies like this often have in besting those larger than them. In my opinion, that implicit honesty makes this movie a real treasure. Bartok is more than just an amusing voice and more than just another unlikely hero--he is an inspiration for those who must confront tasks they know appear far beyond their means to carry out. The tools at hand are determination, perseverance, and ingenuity, all of which are put fully to the test in Bartok the Magnificent, and all of which succeed."
Bartok the Magnificant
Thorin N. Tatge | 01/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Great movie! Sure, it wasn't the same as the original Anastasia, but oh well. The songs in Bartok are catchy and enjoyable (esp: Someone's in my House, which is sung by the witch Baba Yaga). The overall visual style is much like that of Anastasia (only brighter!) so it's familliar to the eye. The story line was innocent and appealing to older people too. Hats off to Don Bluth! I hope Bartok takes the same route as The Land Before Time (multiple, and enjoyable, films) because I want more of Bartok!"