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Western Animation / Bartok the Magnificent

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Bartok the Magnificent is a 1999 Direct to Video 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 he does not own the rights to the films he directed. 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 a lot weirder.)
  2. And, funnily enough, it barely counts as a prequel to Anastasia. It's really more of a Spinoff that has its own canon (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.

The plot follows Bartok as a traveling entertainer and 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. Ludmilla, 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.

Has nothing to do with the composer Béla Bartók.


  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: The Skull entrance to Baba Yaga's home is rendered in early CGI compared to the trfidioanlly animated cast, which creates a slightly eerie effect due to its jolting motion when speaking.
  • Accidental Tickle Torture: During one of his attempts to get Piloff free from being frozen in place, Bartok simply tries pulling her off, only for her body to stretch without being released. As he's doing so, Piloff giggles and lampshades this trope.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Bartok was hardly a villain to begin with in his debut, but here he becomes a straight up hero, with some mild trickster elements.
    • Baba Yaga in mythology can be helpful and even benevolent on occassion, but most tales have her as a sadistic witch who has strange morals at best and really does kidnap and eat children. Here she is portrayed in a much more sympathetic light and her reputation as a child kidnapper and eater is unfounded. She even (indirectly) helps Bartok save Ivan.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: It is difficult to determine in what period the film takes place, since it seems to combine aspects of different periods, but it's still implied to be at least long before the events of Anastasia.
  • Anti-Hero: Bartok starts off as this. He's a traveling performer who brags about feats he's obviously never done, and uses Zozi (who acts like a feral bear out of control) as part of his act to trick people into thinking he's a hero, conning the townspeople out of a great deal of money, and Ivan of a ring. By the end, he ends up becoming a hero for real and actually does feats similar to what he bragged about in the opening.
  • Anachronism Stew: The setting is supposed to be pre-revolutionary Russia, but 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, a witch who sings jazz (which wasn't invented until either the late 19th or early 20th century).
  • Animal Motif: Ludmilla has two motifs.
    • The first is the Dragon with her dragon form, as well as having traits such as being destructive, overtly greedy, and wrathful being overall behind her facade.
    • The second is noticeable, but more subtle. Rats. Her song initially is accompanied by rats, her lyrics include lying and sneaking about- which are common rat traits, the first stage of her Bit-by-Bit Transformation is a bulbous rat like tail, and she comes across as a rat hiding in place sight, with her transformation revealing her true nature, which Bartok then has to exterminate her as a oversized vermin at that point.
  • 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.
  • Ax-Crazy: It's not immediately obvious as Ludmilla comes across as merely a Smug Snake at first, but gradually through her Villain Song, it's revealed she's not only sadistic, but also aspires to be like Attila The Hun of all people when comparing the figure she wants her rule to aspire to.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Ludmilla upon "discovering" Ivan has gone missing, giving forced and over the top reactions to hide that she truly doesn't care for him.
  • Bad Boss: Ludmilla leaves Vol to drown with Bartok and Ivan when she discovers that he merely locked the latter up in a tower instead of killing him and that he had no intention of killing Ivan.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Ludmilla wrings a rat during her Villain Song.
  • Bat Deduction: Puns aside, when Bartok sees the dragon rampaging outside the castle, he immediately and correctly deduces that its Ludmilla having been transformed by the potion.
  • Beary Funny: Zozi, a hammy thespian actor whose humor comes from his over enthusiasm into his roles.
  • Becoming the Mask: Bartok starts off as a performing traveller who brags about being a hero who has performed several grand feats such as slaying a dragon, over the course of the story and with the encouragement of Zozi, Bartok actually ends up becoming a hero and saves Moscow by slaying a Dragon.
  • Big Bad: Baba Yaga is set up to be the main villain, but that turns out to be a charade—Ludmilla turns out to be the real villain, having Ivan kidnapped with the intention to kill him, and framing Baba Yaga for kidnapping him, all as part of her plan to usurp the throne.
  • Bit-by-Bit Transformation: Ludmilla transforms into a dragon this way.
  • Bizarre Belching: In the climax, Ludmilla drinks a magical potion in the belief that it will make her even more beautiful - and immediately lets out a very loud, unladylike belch, coughing up a cloud of multicolored smoke in the process. Unfortunately, the potion actually brings out the drinker's true nature, and this initial belch is just the first symptom in Ludmilla's Bit-by-Bit Transformation into a dragon.
  • Bizarrchitecture: True to Slavic folklore (or rather the mangled translation thereof), Baba Yaga's dingy old hut is seated right on top of two giant chicken legs.
  • Blatant Lies: When the Cossacks arrive to escort Bartok back to Ludmilla, he denies being himself even though his wagon has a sail with his name and face proudly displayed on it behind him. He notices and hastily paints over the A in his name with an E to pass himself off as someone else. The Cossacks don't buy it for a second.
  • Bond One-Liner: Just before the water tower collapses with Dragon Ludmilla on it, Bartok quips to her "Have a nice trip, see you next fall!"
  • Boob-Based Gag: When Ludmilla is transforming into a dragon, one of the parts of her Bit-by-Bit Transformation is a set of ludicrously large breasts. They even get a comedic "bwoing" sound effect.
  • Bragging Theme Tune: The opening musical number, "Bartok the Magnificent".
  • Brick Joke: After getting the potion from Baba Yaga, Bartok asks Baba for a hug for the heck of it, and she warns him not to push his luck and shoos him off. In the end, Baba shows up and grudgingly lets Bartok hug her, since he saved the day.
  • Butt-Monkey: Bartok, even more so than his debut movie. He's often abused by Baba Yaga whenever he talks back or wants a break.
  • Call-Back: Everything Bartok does during the climax is a reference to something he claimed to have done in his show at the beginning, from defeating a dragon to dousing a city in flames.
  • 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 is a prequel to Anastasia, perhaps this is how Rasputin and Bartok first met?
    • The villager crying for more water during the climax appears to sport Bluth's mustache.
  • Captain Oblivious: Ludmilla somehow fails to notice she's turning into a dragon.
  • Card-Carrying Villain:
    • Baba Yaga calls herself evil when she first meets Bartok, but it's revealed later that she was just doing that to roll along with her bad reputation and test Bartok's character.
    • Ludmilla compares herself to Attila the Hun when singing about what kind of ruler she'll be.
  • Cartoon Creature: Piloff has a face that vaguely calls to mind a rodent, but she has the limp body of a ragdoll snake. Her species is completely indeterminate.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The potion Baba Yaga makes and gives to Bartok. It was supposed to help him rescue Ivan, but Ludmilla steals it and uses it for her own end. Ironically, the potions effects on her indirectly end up leading Bartok to saving the day.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Baba Yaga's "magic intuition" is briefly mentioned in her song number "Someone's in my House", and seems like it was just there to justify her knowing Bartok was hiding in her house. After Bartok completes her challenges and shows her compassion, she uses the same intuition to reveal that not only did she not kidnap Prince Ivan, but that he never even left the castle.
    • A lot of Bartok's early showsmanship skills come back to him in important ways later. A good direct example being when he accidentally starts juggling hot coals and ends up distracting Oble the Metalworker, which he later intentionally uses to distract dragon Ludmilla.
  • Chores Without Powers: Baba Yaga casts a grounding spell on Bartok the bat just before sending him to fetch a magical feather hovering above the ground. He succeeds after building a tower made out of iron scraps.
  • Classically-Trained Extra: Zozi. Of course, he's voiced by 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.
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: Given that the film is either a prequel or spinoff, Ludmilla contrasts Rasputin with how their Obviously Evil Evil Chancellor roles beyond just gender and how they interact with Bartok.
  • Cool Old Lady: Baba Yaga turns out to be this. She gets a jazzy number to herself, and even helps Bartok save the day.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover art proudly proclaims "The lovable hero from Anastasia is back!" Bartok was the sidekick to that movie's villain and while he was hardly what you'd call "evil", he didn't really do anything heroic either, unless you count him abandoning Rasputin in the end.
  • Dark Is Evil: Ludmilla dresses in black, is drawn in an angular, bony physique as cold as her vain personality.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Baba Yaga is a witch, mildly gruesome looking and lives in a dingy old house on chicken legs within a far, totally out of the way area, but it turns out she's not evil, just an antisocial person with a bad reputation.
  • David Versus Goliath: Bartok, an albino bat barely a couple inches tall, fighting the downright titanic Dragon Ludmilla in the climax.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Some of Ludmilla's prisoners sing snark in her direction during her Villain Song.
    "More than just the peasants are revolting!"
    "Hide, run away or go on a vacation!"
    (while about to be killed and presumably thinking of the idea of Ludmilla being queen) "Gee, the future looks great!"
    • Bartok himself, who is constantly making nervous but snarky asides.
    (after Baba Yaga gives him the Fetch Quest)
    Bartok: Quick question - totally hypothetical of course - what if I can't?
    Baba Yaga: You can or you can't, but if you can't you will die and Moscow will never see its prince again.
    Bartok: Sounds like a real win-win.
  • Deranged Animation: Ironically in spite of the creator being infamous for including this element in his direct works, it's rather low-key on this aspect within the narrative itself outside of Pilof and the Skull entrance except for one infamously moment near the end.
    • The aforementioned Ludmilla's Bit-by-Bit Transformation which transforms her into a dragon, but does so by exaggerating her usual thin proportions into grotesquely obese with eventually only her face looking like a mask being plastered on a dragon body until it too vanishes.
  • Disney Villain Death: Dragon Ludmilla is lured to the top of the castle by Bartok, and the watertower can't support her weight and comes falling down, crushing her to death under it.
  • Domestic-Only Cartoon: A rare example of a direct-to-video sequel being produced in-house at the studio that created the original. Supposedly, the project was meant to keep the staff preoccupied before they had to start on Titan A.E..
  • The Dreaded: As the opening song tells, Baba Yaga has this reputation among Russian folk, but that turns out to be out of gossip more than anything else.
  • Eats Babies: Baba Yaga has a reputation for kidnapping and eating children, but that turns out to be false.
  • Eat the Camera: Ludmilla as she drinks Baba Yaga's potion.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Vol merely locks Prince Ivan in a tower instead of killing him, and he makes it clear he has no intention of killing the prince. This prompts Ludmilla to leave him to drown.
  • Everything Dances: Baba Yaga's introduction song, Someone... is in... my house.
  • Evil All Along: Ludmilla is revealed to be this to Bartok and co. to be a treacherous and ambitious advisor, not that it wasn't hard for the audience to piece it together anyway.
  • Evil Chancellor: Ludmilla is this to Ivan with the latter assuming she's merely just being rigid and bossy with his best intentions rather than being genuinely evil with ambitions to either turn him into a puppet king to impose her rule through or have him assassinated to rule herself.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: The first thing we learn about Ludmilla is she hates casual entertainment for the people, and wants to have Bartok shut down. It's implied through her song that the entertainment she truly enjoys is the intense suffering of others.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Ludmilla. She even drinks dramatically. She even hams up sitting down on a throne. Her Villain Song takes this trait up to eleven, with her forced subdued nature being cast aside to embrace her inner villainy. Ironically, she loses this trait as a dragon, becoming apparently bestial in thought.
  • Evil Is Petty: Besides the convenient smokescreen of sending a local hero on a quest to save Prince Ivan, it's implied Ludmilla sent Bartok off on his quest out of spite against him due to not liking his style of entertainment.
  • Evil Makes You Monstrous: Ludmilla expects Baba Yaga's potion, which makes people ten times on the outside what they are on the inside, to make her ten times more beautiful. What she actually turned into was dramatically different- that being a dragon that reflects her destructive, rotten, and wrathful nature.
  • Evil Witch: Subverted with Baba Yaga. She has all the hallmarks of one at first and does have a mean streak, but she was framed for kidnapping Prince Ivan—she's not evil, just a loner.
    • Ironically, Ludmilla has the narcissistic personality and typical elegant enchantress appearance of one in spite of being a normal human and her stock draconic One-Winged Angel is a product of an outside source, unknowingly becoming a dragon that she soon is enraged by not turning her into the even more beautiful version of herself she envisioned.
  • Excessive Evil Eyeshadow: Ludmilla wears this to make herself appear more beautiful, but it highlights her evil nature even more.
  • Expy: Oblie is a hairless Tasmanian Devil, complete with similar facial structure and babbling talk.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • For most, Ludmilla's transformation into a dragon is intentionally made to be bizarre, if not downright grotesque, to watch with her thin features becoming exaggeratedly obese.
    • During the climax, Zozi crossdresses as a peasant woman disguise, and it is not a pretty sight.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Bartok when the story starts. Ludmilla exploits this by sending Bartok on a quest to save Ivan from Baga Yaga, solely because she believes it would mean a nuisance would be out of her way and would smokescreen her secret kidnapping of Ivan.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Ludmilla fashions herself as polite and graceful, but barely hides the fact that she's an extremely unpleasant person with implied sadistic traits, a short temper, and psychotic ambitions. Her Villain Song is entirely about tossing aside her elegant facade to embrace her inner bombastic villainy and bestial sadism while unknowingly becoming a monstrous dragon to reflect the change in a more visual manner.
  • Fetch Quest: The middle act is Bartok being sent by Baba Yaga to go fetch three objects around the area, which she uses as part of a potion that she gives to Bartok.
    • Ludmilla's demand to rescue Ivan is a a subversive smokescreen to draw attention away from her own kidnapping and assumed assassination of the prince, being enraged when the latter was committed.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: After Ludmilla drinks the potion, she throws the bottle on the floor; a rat then drinks some of the potion's remains, causing it to transform into a rat-dragon hybrid. It foreshadows that Ludmilla will become one on a much larger scale with her consumption.
  • Flying Broomstick: Baba Yaga makes her first appearance riding on one, but her classic flying mortar and pestle also make an appearance in the end.
  • For the Evulz:
    • This is about the extent of Ludmilla's characterization; she's sadistic, vain and wants to usurp the throne from Ivan by kidnapping and assassinating him in order to rule in a tyrannical manner similar to Attila the Hun.
    • The visuals and some of the lyrics to Baba Yaga's song "Someone's in My House" imply that she knew all along that Bartok was there and decided to toy with him a little before capturing him. Subverted in her case as she's not actually evil.
  • Frame-Up: Ludmilla has Vol kidnap Ivan while disguised as Baba Yaga, and leaving behind a piece of bark from the Iron Forest, so that she could conveniently frame the witch for Ivan's kidnapping and subsequent assassination.
  • Gag Nose: Baba Yaga has the largest nose of all characters.
  • Genre Shift: Anastasia was a historical fantasy with some romantic elements (albeit its ties to history are very, very loose) while this is a straight-up magical fantasy with comedic elements.
  • Good All Along: Baba Yaga is revealed to just be a witch with a bad reputation, and not actually evil.
  • Good Shapeshifting, Evil Shapeshifting: Bartok is given a potion that can essentially reveal the drinker's true self, and it's indicated that it will make Bartok into the hero he should be. Unfortunately, Ludmilla drinks it, convinced that it will make her the gloriously beautiful queen she believes she should be... and instead, it transforms her into a comically obese dragon with purple scales, a reflection of her greedy, destructive, power-hungry true nature.
  • 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.
    "Oh thank god..."
  • Gratuitous Animal Sidekick: Played with. Bartok, who was a sidekick himself In Anastasia, becomes the hero and gets his own sidekick, Zozi, a talking bear who is fascinated with acting. Ironically, Bartok is barely an couple inches high, while Zozi is very large.
  • 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. Though even when Ludmilla is skinny, her hips are quite a bit wider than the rest of her.
  • Heel Realization: Not a full example, but Ludmilla is clearly very surprised that "the real Ludmilla" is a hideous fire-breathing dragon as opposed to a beautiful queen or something else beautiful that she narcissistically envisioned herself to be.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: When he meets her, Baba Yaga calls herself evil and threatens to kill Bartok if he doesn't get what she needs or relies on Zozi for help. Of course, her behavior turns out to be a Secret Test of Character so she could see if Bartok was capable of saving Ivan from Ludmilla, and, while still grumpy and antisocial, she turns out to be a much nicer person than she lets on.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Dragon Ludmilla is crushed to death under the same water tower she intended to drown Bartok and Ivan in.
  • "I Am Becoming" Song: "The Real Ludmilla", although Ludmilla isn't aware of her transformation until after the song ends and sees her reflection.
  • Identical Grandson: 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.
  • Impossible Hourglass Figure: Ludmilla temporarily during her Bit-by-Bit Transformation. At one point her breasts erupt to dragon-sized proportions, and seconds later her butt and thighs follow suit.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Bartok is a shameless thief and rather whiny and sarcastic, but he's good natured at heart.
  • Karmic Transformation: Ludmilla's transformation into a fat, purple dragon, which reflects her destructive, cruel and wrathful nature.
  • Kick the Dog: After Bartok finds out about Ludmilla's scheme and kidnapping of Ivan, she locks him up in a cage, steals his potion, smashes the tower floor so he, Ivan and Vol can drown, and she rubs the situation right in their faces before closing the door.
  • Lean and Mean: Ludmilla, except for the hips, but this gets subverted in her Bit-by-Bit Transformation in which her proportions becomes exaggeratedly obese until she ends up as a plump, pink dragon.
  • 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 oddities of indeterminate species, and everyone else is human.
  • Lighter and Softer: The film is considerably less dark than Anastasia in both tone and aesthetic, the leads are cartoon animals and explicitly fictional characters, and the comedy and fantasy elements are played up a lot more.
  • Long-Lived: Bartok, apparently, going by the fact that this would take place long before the first film.
  • 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 Yaga's 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 mindless, 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 the trope.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Vol. When Ludmilla told him to "get [Ivan] out of the way" he didn't realize she meant "kill him" and instead locked him in the tower.
    Ludmilla: Why didn't you do what I said?
    Vol: I did! I dressed up like the witch, left that tooth and took the prince.
    Ludmilla: And what about him?
    Vol: Well, you told me you wanted him out of the way.
    Ludmilla: Well, what's he doing here?!
    Vol: Well, I put him in that cage in the tippy-top of the tower! How much more out of the way could he be?
    Ludmilla: DEAD, you imbecile! Dead is what he could be! DEAD!'
    Vol: Dead? But he's the prince.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Baba Yaga turns out to be this. The film sets her up to be a villain, but she's really just a solitary witch with a bad reputation. At worst, she's just a jerk to Bartok.
  • 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.
  • Mythology Gag: In the Anastasia trailer, there's a throwaway line about Bartok doing karate. Here, Bartok shows he actually can do a karate chop.
  • Noodle People: Ludmilla, sort of. Everything above her shoulders is normal and the rest of her body is noodly, which looks... Odd.
  • Non-Action Guy: Zozi the Bear, Bartok's business partner and sidekick contributes almost nothing to the plot, and otherwise just serves as comic relief—he's even specifically forbidden from helping Bartok by Baya Yaga's orders. The only plot relevant scenes he has are contributing to Bartok's fake hero charades in the opening, and later freeing Bartok and then rescuing Ivan from the watertower while Bartok deals with Dragon Ludmilla.
  • Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: Ludmilla attempts to usurp the throne after calling Ivan out on not taking his royal duties seriously. While she is right about Ivan, she really wants to take over the kingdom for her own benefit to rule as a tyrant.
  • Obviously Evil: Ludmilla dresses in wasp like colors, is drawn very lean and angular, and has a cold, condescending personality. Even before The Reveal, it's clear that she's a villain. Her One-Winged Angel into a dragon makes it even more obvious, casting away what little subtleties she had to engage in bestial villainy.
  • Oh, Crap!: Ludmilla has this reaction when Bartok tells her Ivan is in the tower. Up until then she thought he was dead. She also has this reaction when she realizes she's turned into a dragon.
    • Then of course her death, when she realizes that Bartok tricked her into causing her and the water tower to fall to her death.
  • Oh God, with the Verbing!: As in the original film, Bartok is prone to this. A lot.
  • One-Winged Angel: Played with. 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 giant purple dragon. However, she had no idea this was going to happen, wasn't even aware it was taking place, and apparently had no control over herself once it finished - so stopping her ends up less like fighting the Big Bad as a monster and more getting rid of a dangerous animal remnants of a foolish Smug Snake's ill-thought out decision.
  • Pep-Talk Song: "A Possible Hero", where Zozi encourages Bartok when he doubts finishing the mission.
  • Prequel: The film is supposed to be a prequel to Anastasia, though Don Bluth himself has admitted it could easily be seen as its own story. Both are a Historical Fantasy based on Russian history, but Anastasia is clearly set in the 20th century and depicts the end of the Russian monarchy, while Bartok appears to be set in the Middle Ages.
  • Public Domain Character: Baba Yaga, the famous witch of Slavic folklore.
  • Reused Character Design:
    • Piloff bears a passing resemblance to a character from an unfinished project of Bluth's called Jawbreaker.
    • As does Dragon!Ludmilla to the dragon from Dragon's Lair.
  • Red Herring: Ludmilla has her lackey kidnap Ivan while disguised as Baba Yaga and locked up in the tower (with the intent to kill him), framing Baba for the kidnapping and planning to claim the throne from Ivan in his absence. She sends Bartok out to find Yaga and retrieve Ivan just to get him out of her way, honestly believing he wouldn't come back.
  • Scaled Up: Ludmilla transforms into a dragoness as a result of Baba Yaga's potion and rampages through Moscow.
  • Secret Test of Character: Baba Yaga puts Bartok through four challenges, which seem like what he has to do to get Prince Ivan back from her, but are revealed to be a test of his good nature, necessary to make a potion that will allow him to save Ivan from his real kidnapper, and teaching him skills he will need to beat Dragon Ludmilla.
    Bartok: Wait a minute. You mean, the whole time I was doing all that stuff for me?
    Baba Yaga: Mm-hmm. Now, leave me and save the prince.
  • Shapeshifting Sound: The climax features Ludmilla taking a potion that she believes will reveal her inner beauty... only for it to bring her monstrous true nature to the surface by transforming Ludmilla into a dragon in a grotesque Bit-by-Bit Transformation, her slender build suddenly expanding into huge breasts and a massive belly with a comical "BWOING" sound effect.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Smug Snake: Ludmilla has the overtly Faux Affably Evil aspect of one including being assured that her plans are infallible only to throw a fit when they don't work out. Her inadvertent One-Winged Angel into a dragon is another of her ill-thought out decisions, assuming that it make her even more beautiful than she already is, rather than becoming something that reflects on her true rotten nature.
  • Spin-Off: Ostensibly a prequel, but its setting and tone has few ties to Anastasia, that it really feels more like this.
  • Spikes of Villainy: Ludmilla has several superfluous spikes over her wardrobe, just in case you didn't realize she was the villain.
  • Stock Sound Effect: For some reason, Baba Yaga's flying uses the same sound effect as Rocky the Squirrel's flying.
  • Super 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...
  • Take That!: On the side of his wagon, Bartok has him standing victorious on top of a familiar-looking warthog.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Bartok by the end. He succeeds in distracting and taking down a dragon on his own, and without even laying a finger on her.
  • Toilet Humor: A mild example, but after wolfing down Baba Yaga's potion, Ludmilla makes a very loud, vulgar burp, complete with expelling a technicolor odor to go with it.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer spoils Ludmilla's transformation into a dragon.
  • Transformation Exhilaration: In the climax Ludmilla drinks a potion that she believes will make her more beautiful than ever. Unknown to her, it's actually meant to bring out her true self, and it results in her undergoing a Bit-by-Bit Transformation into a dragon; however, Ludmilla clearly finds the process enjoyable, exalting at every stage of the transformation over the course of her show-stopping Villain Song. Indeed, she's so carried away with excitement that she doesn't even notice what she's becoming until after the transformation is complete.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • To emphasize its otherworldly nature, the Skull is rendered in early CGI and looks unnatural compared to the traditionally animated cast.
    • Ludmilla seems pretty at a first glance, but her proportions are too thin to be natural with her face being slightly exaggerated with her nose being slightly serpentine with an enlarged mouth that is forced to be smaller than it actually is. Her transformation prior to the completed clownish and cartoonish dragon form invokes this with her elegant features juxtaposed with the gradually obese reptilian form, initially with her tail, then cartoonishly large hands, wide reptilian bosom/hips to her beautiful head, then her face plastered like a mask over the dragon's head. Leading to several surreal moments.
  • The Unintelligible: Oble, with the exception of a few key words, like "crown"... or "buggler".
  • Vain Sorceress: Ludmilla, downplayed as she doesn't have inherent magical powers on her own and her One-Winged Angel comes from outside sources (Baba Yaga's potion) and she's oblivious to the transformation until she's seen the completed transformation in a reflection, which she reacts negatively to. Aside from this, she's so vain that she pictures herself to be already a beauty with the potion likely making her beauty up to eleven, so self-absorbed that she doesn't notice the transformation until she sees a reflection and throws a narcissistic fit of rage on Moscow when it turns out it turned her into an ugly dragon to reflect her rotten heart.
  • Villainous Breakdown: When Ivan turns out to be alive, her overall overtly polite facade briefly breaks as she briefly engages in Suddenly Shouting before recomposing herself. Her Villain Song is her gradually entering a permanent one in which she changes from her faux polite self into her true bestially violent self as a near-mindless dragon.
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song: The opening number, "Baba Yaga", which of course turns out to be a fakeout.
  • Villain Song:
  • Water Tower Down: How Ludmilla meets her end, being crushed by the falling water tower.
  • Wham Line: When Baba Yaga reveals that she never kidnapped Ivan, and that he never even left his castle.
    Bartok: (seeing the tower of Ivan's castle) Whoa, whoa. The tower...Uh, you never took him, did ya?
    Baba Yaga: I never said I did.
  • Wicked Cultured: Ludmilla, she's aware of Attila the Hun and in fact inspires her rule to resemble his.
  • Widely-Spaced Jail Bars: The cage Bartok is locked in is clearly given wide enough bars for him to slip through, yet he never does. It also appears Ivan could squeeze through his cage, though to be fair in his case it be harder and he would have to be good at contortions.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: The whole point of "A Possible Hero" is Zozi telling Bartok he really can be a hero.


Video Example(s):


Ludmilla's... Expansion

During her showstopping transformation into a dragon, Ludmilla swells with a loud "BWOING" sound effect. And yes, this results in breast expansion in a kid's film.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / ShapeshiftingSound

Media sources: