Bartok the Magnificent

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Bartok the Magnificent
Bartok the Magnificent.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Don Bluth
Gary Goldman
Produced by Don Bluth
Gary Goldman
Hank Azaria
Written by Jay Lacopo
Starring Hank Azaria
Kelsey Grammer
Tim Curry
Phillip Van Dyke
Andrea Martin
Catherine O'Hara
Jennifer Tilly
Diedrich Bader
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Edited by Bob Bender
Fiona Trayler
Distributed by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Release dates November 16, 1999
Running time 68 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Bartok the Magnificent, directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, is a 1999 direct-to-video spin-off to the 1997 film Anastasia, which features Hank Azaria as the voice of Bartok, Kelsey Grammer as the voice of Zozi, and Jennifer Tilly as Piloff. It is a "family adventure...animated comedy" film, according to Fort Oglethorpe Press.[1]

Although the film was released after Anastasia, it is unclear if the events in the film take place before or after those of its predecessor. While many of Don Bluth's films have received sequels and spin-offs, this is the only spin-off Don Bluth has directed. Variety writer John Laydon explained how the films were connected: "The literally batty sidekick who swiped scenes throughout 1997's 'Anastasia' is rewarded with his very own animated adventure in 'Bartok the Magnificent', a lightly diverting direct-to-video opus". He also argued that the film was a prequel "since the setting is pre-revolutionary Russia"[2]


A spin-off film was devised as "Hollywood audiences went batty over the impish Bartok in Fox's 1997 animated musical Anastasia.[3] Chris Meledandri, then-president of 20th Century Fox Animation said "Once we thought about a lot of ideas, our favorite idea was the one you see".[3]


This begins with a musical introduction which explains that Russia is being terrorized by an evil witch, Baba Yaga, apparently only one is not afraid of her, this is an albino bat named, Bartok. Bartok has just arrived in Moscow and is performing for the people, everyone including the Prince think he is really good. However, Ludmilla finds him very annoying and naive. After the show, Zozi, a brown bear arrives pretending to be a very mean, violent bear, and Bartok uses a dust which Zozi pretends to stun him, and knocks Zozi over near his wagon and loads him in. After that, Bartok is given lots of Gold from the people and Prince Ivan gives him a ring, Ludmilla then reminds him that the ring is for rominofs not commoners, and asks him to take it back, but the Prince decides its time for a change. Ludmilla who has no choice agrees and they leave.

After they get back, Ludmilla is telling Ivan that he Shouldn't give rings to commoners, especially street performers because it encourages them. Ivan wanted to encourage him, and Vol agrees with the Prince that Bartok was funny, but Ludmilla thinks that Ivan needs to show more respect for his crown, Ivan is tired of listening to Ludmilla and tells her that he will do as he wants, and it is her who must respect the crown.

Meanwhile Bartok is seen counting the money he received, Zozi wakes up and scares Bartok, it is then revealed that they're partners in business and that they tricked the people of Moscow, Zozi agrees with Ludmilla about how Bartok should return the ring, but Bartok agrees that the Prince did give it to him. So Zozi agrees knowing how stubborn Bartok is. Back in Moscow the Prince is kidnapped by Baba Yaga, leading to an immediate investigation, Ludmilla finds an Iron tooth and tells the people, she then asks if they know anyone brave enough to go after the prince, two kids vote for Bartok.

Meanwhile, Bartok and Zozi are on their way to St. Petersburg, when Zozi spots the cossacks coming after then, worried, they both assume its about the ring. Trying to conceal his Identity, Bartok is brought before the people and explained the situation. Bartok is unsure at first but accepts after the kids ask him. Zozi and Bartok head to the Iron Forest to confront Baba Yaga and save prince Ivan.

Soon the find Baba Yaga's hut, but before they can go in, they must answer a riddle, after doing so, Bartok is caught by Baba Yaga and explained that to save the Prince, he needs to gather three things from the forest, Piloff, Oblie's Crown, and the Magic Feather. After Gathering all of them, She explains she needs something from Bartok he tries everything, including a hair from his head, this causes Baba to burst out laughing, Bartok is outraged and just starts yelling. This greatly upsets Baba Yaga. After he talks to her, he starts crying and Baba gets the most important ingredient from Bartoks heart. She then makes a magic potion and tells Bartok that Prince Ivan is in the tower.

After going back into town and leading Ludmilla and Vol up to the top. They find the Prince and Ludmilla locks Bartok up and it is revealed that she used Vol for her evil Scheme to become head of the thrown of Russia. After stealing Bartoks Potion, she takes it herself locking Bartok, Vol, and Ivan in a room filling with water.

The Potion backfires on Ludmilla, turning her into a purple dragon, she begins to destroy Russia. Bartok escapes thanks to Zozi and he then saves the Prince and Vol while Bartok battles Ludmilla, after defeating her, Zozi reveals that Bartok is a true hero, and it wasn't because he stopped evil, its because he gave her his compassion. Bartok then returns the kings ring and Baba Yaga appears writing, "Bartok, The Magnificent" In the sky. Bartok and Pilof hug Baba Yaga and they leave waving goodbye to Bartok.



The film's songs were written by Stephen Flaherty, who, along with Lynn Ahrens, also worked on the vocal music for Anastasia, in which Bartok made his first appearance along with his master, Rasputin.

Song listing[edit]

Song number Title Performers Length
1 Baba Yaga Ensemble vocals 1:00
2 Bartok the Magnificent Bartok and village people 2:40
3 A Possible Hero Zozi and Bartok 1:40
4 Someone's In My House Baba Yaga and magical objects 1:55
5 The Real Ludmilla Ludmilla and prisoners 2:05


In late 1999, pancake purveyor IHOP Corp. started selling 2 versions of Bartok, as part of a promotion for the direct-to-video film "Bartok The Magnificent". The company planned "to sell about 500,000 of the six-inch-high toys - Bartok Puppet and Turban Bartok - for $2.99 with any food purchase". It was "also offering $2 mail-in rebate coupons for the $20 video...and free activity books for children".[4]


Bartok the Magnificent was first released on VHS and DVD by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on November 16, 1999,[1] and was later re-released in 2005 as part of a 2-disc set alongside Anastasia entitled Family Fun Edition.[5] Bartok the Magnificent was also included as a special feature on the March 2011 release of Anastasia on Blu-ray.

The "tape and DVD conclude with sing-along segments that reprise the...original tunes by Stephen Flaherty...and Lynn Ahrons"[2] - Bartok the Magnificent, A Possible Hero and Someone's in My House.[6] Other DVD extras include also include Bartok and Anastasia trailers, and a 'Maze Game' "that features three...mazes that you control with your remote control".[6]

Visual and audio[edit]

The aspect ratio is 1.33:1 - Full Frame. The DVD release has the original aspect ratio, and it is not anamorphic. As the source is video and not film, and because there is no widescreen aspect ratio available, the quality is at the same level of the original film. Digitally Obsessed says "The colors are nicely rendered, with a minimum of bleeding" but when viewed on "a 115 foot projection screen through a progressive scan player...the image was fairly grainy and uneven".[6] The film has English and French audio. Digitally Obsessed says "The DS2.0 mix is more than adequate for this fun little bat romp [though there is a] lack of directionality in the mix. The dialogue is clear and center speaker weighted". It concluded by saying "This is a great DVD for kids, because besides just watching the movie they can enjoy the three sing-alongs or try to find Prince Ivan in the mazes. Bartok teaches moral values in a way that kids can understand"[6] According to LoveFilm, the film has been dubbed into: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, and Dutch. It has subtitles in: Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Swedish.[7] Fort Worth Star-Telegram implied this was one of the rare direct-to-video films that is great quality, saying "the made-for-tape bin can yield an undiscovered bargain [such as] Bartok the Magnificent".[8] Lexington Herald-Leader said "to my surprise...the movie overall [is] quite good."[9]

Critical reception[edit]

In a review written on January 1, 2000, Dan Jardine of Apollo Guide gave the film a score of 71/100.[10] On December 8, 2004, Michael Dequina of wrote a review in which he scored it 1.5/4, and wrote "This uninspired, but mercifully short, adventure will hold some amusement for little kids but bore everyone else".[10] FamilyVideo said the film "is marked by imaginative scenery, catchy songs, comic characters [and Bartok's] own funny and neurotic commentary".[11] Hartford Courant described the film as "enjoyable".[12] Indianapolis Star said "'Bartok' is quite good for video-only release".[13] DigitallyObsessed gave the film a Style grade of B+, Substance rating of A, Image Transfer rating of C, Audio Transfer rating of B, and Extras rating of B+ - averaging out to a B+ rating of the film as a whole. It said "Stephen Flaherty's score is very nice".[6] On LoveFilm, the film has a rating of 3/5 stars based on 222 member ratings.[7]

In a 1999 review, John Laydon of Variety explained: "Tykes will likely be charmed by the brisk pacing, vibrant (albeit stereotypical) characters and engaging storyline, while parents may be especially grateful for a cartoon with much better production values than 'Pokemon'". He noted "even very small children will notice early on that Ludmilla...a duplicitous regent, is the real villain of the piece". He said co-directors Bluth and Goldman "do a respectable job of establishing what promises to be a new direct-to-video franchise", adding that "though certainly not as lavish as its bigscreen predecessor [Anastasia], the sequel is attractive and involving, with Tim Curry and Jennifer Tilly well cast as supporting-character voices". He said Azaria has "amusing brio", while Grammer "is the real scene-stealer this time". He described the songs as "pleasant but unremarkable".[2]

Also in 1999, Fort Oglethorpe Press described the film as "spectacular", "frolicking", and "fun-filled", adding that it is "loaded with breathtaking, feature-quality animation", and "spectacular music", and "enchanting new songs".[1][14][15]

The Trades questioned the film's existence, saying "I am unsure what reason this spinoff was made, but regardless, it was a well done one". It added that "the same team directed and produced the second movie, and unlike many direct to video movies, it is animated as well as the first and uses a healthy portion of CGI, something many movies of that nature tend to lack. Backgrounds have the same detail as the original movie, making this a definite worthwhile watch".[16]

The Dallas Morning News notes "Bartok the Magnificent does even more disservice to Russian history than Anastasia did".[17]


  1. ^ a b c,5431935&dq=bartok-the-magnificent&hl=en
  2. ^ a b c Joe Leydon (1999-11-28). "Bartok the Magnificent". Variety. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  3. ^ a b King, Susan (1999-12-10). "Bartok the bat flies solo in new movie". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  4. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ {{cite web|url= |title=Anastasia: Family Fun Edition on DVD - DVD Town | |date=2005-12-31 |accessdate=2013-10-18}}
  6. ^ a b c d e "dOc DVD Review: Bartok The Magnificent (1999)". 2008-05-06. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  7. ^ a b "Bartok The Magnificent reviews (1999)". Lovefilm. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  8. ^ . 2000-01-07  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ . 1999-11-26  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ a b "Bartok the Magnificent - Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  11. ^ "Animated 3-Pack 3-Disc Set DVD". Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  12. ^ "Proquest -". 1999-11-25. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  13. ^ Slosarek, Steve (1999-12-10). "'Bartok' is quite good for video-only release". Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  14. ^,5353098&dq=bartok-the-magnificent&hl=en
  15. ^,6230957&dq=bartok-the-magnificent&hl=en
  16. ^ Ends Oct 21, 2013 (2006-04-04). "DVD Review: Anastasia (Family Fun Edition)". The Trades. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  17. ^ Churnin, Nancy (1999-12-27). "Archives | The Dallas Morning News,". Retrieved 2013-10-18. 

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