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Western Animation: Bartok the Magnificent

Semi-prequel to Don Bluth's Anastasia. This film is interesting for a couple of reasons:

  1. On the Don Bluth trope page, we mentioned that because he does not own the rights to the films he directed, his films tend to suffer from Sequelitis. Bluth had absolutely nothing to do with any of the sequels to any of his movies... except this one. This is the only sequel he directed. (If you're wondering, if it isn't "better" than most sequels spawned off Bluth films, then at least it is one hell of a lot weirder.)
  2. And, funnily enough, it barely counts as a prequel to Anastasia. It's really more of a Spinoff (Bluth himself put it "somewhere between a movie and a very expensive video"). The only things connecting Bartok the Magnificent to the previous film are the Russian setting and Bartok himself.

In this movie, Bartok is a traveling entertainer and a conman traveling Russia with a bear named Zozi, pretending to be a great hero and adventurer. His facade as a hero backfires when Tsarviech Ivan Romanov disappears, kidnapped by the mysterious Baba Yaga. Ludimilla, Ivan's advisor hires Bartok to get him back, and the bat finds he can't say no. So the pair set off, and Bartok might become a hero yet.

Examples:

  • Anachronism Stew: Oh sweet sanity, where do we start? It mixes Imperial Russia (18th-19th centuries) with Russian folklore from the first millennium AD, features a fictional Romanov prince based on a fairy tale character from said folklore, and it only gets worse from there.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The stuff Baba Yaga puts in the potion. Especially that mysterious glittery liquid she wrings out of Piloff.
  • Ascended Extra: The main character was nothing more than a comic relief Punch Clock Villain in Anastasia.
  • Author Allusion: Zozi sneaking up on Bartok and playfully scaring him while the audience still thinks that he's threatening is almost verbatim to Justin's introduction in some other movie Don Bluth did.
  • Bad Bad Acting: Ludmilla upon "discovering" Prince Ivan has gone missing.
  • Butt Monkey: Bartok.
  • Call Back / Foreshadowing: Everything Bartok does during the climax is a reference to something he claimed he had done in his show at the beginning of the movie, from defeating a dragon to dousing a city in flames.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Ludmilla compares herself to Attila the Hun when singing about what kind of ruler she'll be.
  • The Cameo: Rasputin...possibly. When Bartok returns from Baba Yaga with the potion and begins talking about its effects, an old man who bears a striking resemblance to Rasputin (albeit less evil-looking) comes over to him. Considering Bartok The Magnificent is a prequel to Anastasia, perhaps this is how Rasputin and Bartok first met?
    • Creator Cameo: The villager crying for more water during the climax appears to sport Don Bluth's mustache.
  • Classically Trained Extra: Zozi. Of corse, he's played by the guy who also did Sideshow Bob.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Ludmilla seems to shop at the same store as Maleficent and Jafar, as much as her color scheme (not to mention the Spikes of Villainy) just screams villain.
  • Domestic Only Cartoon: A rare example of a direct-to-video sequel being produced in-house at the studio that created the original. And boy can you tell!
  • Eat The Camera: Ludmilla as she drink's Baba Yaga's potion.
  • Everything Dances: Baba Yaga's introduction song, Someone's in my house.
  • Evil Chancellor: Ludmilla again.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: The first thing we learn about Ludmilla is she hates entertainment, and wants to have Bartok shut down.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Ludmilla. She even drinks dramatically.
    • She even hams up sitting down on a throne.
  • Expy: Oblie is a hairless Tasmanian Devil.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Bartok when the story starts.
  • Gag Boobs: Not really boobs, but when Ludmilla is transforming into a dragon and her dragon chest pops out it resembles ludicrously large breasts before her dragon belly pops out to go with it.
  • Gag Nose: Baba Yaga has the largest nose of all charcaters.
  • Go Out with a Smile: During "The Real Ludmilla" three men sentenced to death just lie back and accept it, happy that they won't have to live under Ludmilla's rule.
  • Hartman Hips: Taken to ridiculous proportions when Ludmilla transforms into a dragon; the result with the "gag boobs" above is very similar to one of those ancient fertility goddess figurines.
  • Heel Realization: Not a full example, but Ludmilla is apparently very surprised that "the real Ludmilla" is a fire-breathing dragon as apposed to a beautiful queen or something.
  • "I Am Becoming" Song: "The Real Ludmilla"
  • Identical Grandson: Prince Ivan looks like a male version of Anastasia, so he must be one of her predecessors since this takes place before Bartok even met Rasputin.
  • Lean and Mean: Ludmilla, except for the hips.
  • Leitmotif: An instrumental of "Bartok The Magnificent" plays pretty much every time Bartok does something heroic, or gets a heroic idea.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: Bartok is a Talking Animal, his grotesque bear companion is almost anthropomorphic, there are a couple of monsters and Ugly Cute oddities of indeterminate species, and everyone else is human.
  • Meaningful Name: Piloff is frozen to the top of a boulder, and it's Bartok's job to "peel" her "off."
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Sort of happens to Ludmilla at the end. Baba Yagas potion makes anyone who drinks it "ten times the person" they are inside. Ludmilla drinks it thinking it will turn her into what she thinks she is: beautiful, sweet and graceful as a flower, but since inside she's rotten and villainous she instead turns into a monstrous dragon. Her manner of speaking noticeably becomes much less sweet and controlled — and more manic and aggressive - over the course of her Villain Song, but she doesn't even realize anything's changing until she gets a look at herself in the mirror. Up until that point she was still talking about how she's going to be the golden ruler to the people of Russia - by the time Bartok gets to the city she's a rampaging beast setting everything on fire, and she doesn't talk at all or act like anything but a feral monster for the rest of her appearances. Since she's the villain anyway it's less noticeable - and it's more of a "mind is a plaything of the body which is a plaything of the inner self" type deal - but it's definitely an example.
    • If you interpret the events to mean that Baba Yaga knew Ludmilla would steal the potion and therefore she made it a "turn into dragon" poison from the outset, then it's a completely straight version of Mind Is A Plaything of The Body.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Baba Yaga.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Again, sort of. Ludmilla's last words are a shocked "oh, my goodness" and gasp when she realizes that Baba Yaga's potion is turning her into a monster, but by then it's far too late.
  • Noodle People: Ludmilla, sort of. Everything above her shoulders is normal and the rest of her body is noodly, which looks...odd.
  • Oh God, with the Verbing!: As in the original film, Bartok is prone to this. A lot.
  • One-Winged Angel: During Ludmilla's Villain Song. She downs a potion Baba Yaga gave to Bartok (it was supposed to turn him into a heroic creature capable of saving the day) and turns into "the real Ludmilla" - a none-too-intimidating purple dragon.
  • Reused Character Design: Piloff bears a passing resemblance to a Small Annoying Creature from an unfinished project of Bluth's called Jawbreaker.
  • Shout-Out: A couple to Looney Tunes: The scene of Bartok attempting to get Piloff off of the boulder is clearly borrowing a few ideas from Wile E Coyote And The Roadrunner cartoons, right down to the backgrounds resembling Maurice Nobel's paintings. The ogre they later encounter is a spoof of the Tasmanian Devil.
  • Small Annoying Creature: Bartok himself. Also Piloff the... pink... squishy... thing.
  • Spikes of Villainy: Ludmilla has several superfluous spikes over her wardrobe, just in case you didn't realize she was the villain.
  • Super Serum/Psycho Serum: Baba Yaga's potion, which turns whoever uses it into their inner self, can be either depending on who drinks it. If taken by a repressed hero like Bartok, it would have supposedly made him into a heroic superbat. However, when taken by Ludmilla - a repressed murderous sadist - it instead turns her into a violent fire-breathing dragon. This noticeably surprises her, but not Bartok or the audience.
  • Swiss Army Tears: The final ingredient Baba Yaga wanted for her potion is Bartok's tears, shed because of "compassion". Awww...
  • Took a Level in Badass: Bartok.
  • The Unintelligible: Oble, with the exception of a few key words, like "crown"... or "buggler."
  • The Villain Sucks Song: The opening number, "Baba Yaga," which of course turns out to be a fakeout.
  • Villain Song: "The Real Ludmilla"
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Part of Ludmilla's motive was wanting to usurp a prince she didn't feel was taking his royal responsibilities seriously.
  • Wicked Cultured: Ludmilla.

Bang Boom BangFilms of the 1990sBeing John Malkovich
AnastasiaCreator/Don BluthTitan A.E.
My Scene Goes HollywoodAnimated FilmsBarnyard
Soul JarImageSource/Animated FilmsWakko's Wish

alternative title(s): Bartok The Magnificent
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