Swan Lake (1981 film)

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Swan Lake
Swan Lake (1981 film).jpg
Directed by Kimio Yabuki
Written by Hirokazu Fuse
Based on Swan Lake 
by Tchaikovsky
Starring Christopher Atkins
Pam Dawber
Kay Lenz
David Hemmings
Music by Peter Tchaikovsky
Toei Animation
Distributed by The Samuel Goldwyn Company
(United States)
Toei Company
Release date(s)
  • March 14, 1981 (1981-03-14) (Japan)
  • July 23, 1981 (1981-07-23) (United States)
Running time 75 minutes (Japan)
72 minutes (United States)
Country Japan
Language Japanese

World Masterpiece Fairytale Swan Lake (世界名作童話 白鳥の湖 Sekai Meisaku Dōwa Hakuchō no Mizūmi?) is an anime film based on the ballet Swan Lake by Pyotr Tchaikovsky.[1] The film was released in Japan on 14 March 1981 by Toei.[1]

The film was produced by the Japanese company Toei Animation and directed by Kimio Yabuki. The adaptation uses Tchaikovsky's score and remains relatively faithful to the story. Two separate English dubs were made, one featuring regular voice actors, and one using celebrities as the main principles (Pam Dawber as Odette, Christopher Atkins as Siegfried, Kay Lenz as Odile, and David Hemmings as Rothbart). The second dub aired on The Disney Channel in the early 1990s.[2] It is distributed in United States by The Samuel Goldwyn Company. Also in France and the United Kingdom by Rouge Citron Production.


The hero, Prince Siegfried, is out riding one day with his friends when he sees a swan with a crown on its head swimming on a lake. One of his friends, Adolf, tries to shoot the swan, but just before his arrow flies, Adolf is turned to stone. Siegfried's other friend accuses the swan of practising witchcraft, neither of them pondering the presence of a very wicked-looking owl just behind them. Siegfried is unable to stop thinking about the swan, and decides to follow it as it swims away from its spot on the lake. Siegfried soon finds himself at a tower-like castle.

Siegfried watches in surprise and amazement as the swan transforms into a beautiful girl. He approaches her - at first she is frightened for him and tries to get him to leave, but at his persistence she starts to tell him her story. Her name is Princess Odette, and three years prior she was kidnapped by the evil wizard Rothbart (the owl) who wanted her hand in marriage. He keeps her a swan by day so that no one will fall in love with her, as the only way Rothbart's power can be defeated is when a man loves her with all his heart and soul. Siegfried explains that he already felt something for her the moment he saw her eyes, and asks her to go to his birthday ball the next night, where he will choose her as his bride.

Although at first she refuses, Sigfried is intent and won't take no for an answer. But he convinces her and when she returns to her cage-like room she daydreams of him. The entire story is being seen through the eyes of Hans and Margarita, two squirrels who are watching them.

Enter Rothbart. His daughter Odile tells him about Siegfried, and Rothbart goes to Odette to tell her to forget about the prince and consider marrying him. She rejects. Turns out she's been in love with Siegfried for the past three years.

Of course Rothbart is not going to let Odette go to the ball, so he bars the door and lifts the drawbridge to her cage-home. He and his daughter then plot to get Odette to forget Siegfried by getting him to fall in love with someone else—Odile.

Odile, in the guise of Odette, goes to the ball and wows Siegfried with her dancing. Siegfried does feel that there's something wrong but can't quite put his finger on what it is. Meanwhile, Odette manages to escape from Rothbart's castle with the help of Hans and Margarita, the squirrels and runs to Siegfried's castle.

But just as Odette is about to storm into the ballroom, Rothbart (who was there originally to watch Odile, in the guise of Odette, dance with Siegfried) grabs her, holds her mouth shut and brings her closer where she is able to watch but not make a sound. Thus she watches in horror as Siegfried pledges his love to Odile and announces her as his wife-to-be. Overcome with sorrow, Odette faints into Rothbart's arms.

Rothbarts laughter gets Siegfried's attention and the prince quickly realises his mistake. Odile reveals her true form and the three of them transform into their winged shapes and fly back to the castle. Siegfried follows on horseback, where the final showdown between villain and hero takes place.

After a long fight with the evil wizard, Siegfried is cornered and held at sword-point. To save his life, Odette promises to Rothbart that she will love and marry him, but Siegfried, unable to bear the thought of Odette being a prisoner to Rothbart her entire life, pushes the sword into his own heart and causes a flash of light which destroys both Rothbart and Odile.

Odette and Siegfried, who ended up completely unscathed due to his sacrifice of true love, reunite and run into each other's arms as the sun rises on the ruins of Rothbart's castle.



  1. ^ a b "チャイコフスキーの壮儷な伝説を東映動画スタッフが現代へ!!". Animage 32: 52. February 1981. 
  2. ^ Anime Swan Lake

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