Written by: Pieter Boven on October 3rd, 2005
Original Title: Dikie lebedi
Theatrical Release Date: Soviet Union, 1963
Directors: Vera Tsekhanovskaya, Mikhajl Tsekhanovskij
Writers: Hans Christian Andersen, Yevgeni Ryss, Leonid Trauberg
DVD released: January 4, 2005
Running time: 57m34s
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: German Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
DVD Label: Icestorm Entertainment
Region Coding: Region 0 PAL (Germany)
Retail Price: 12.75 EUR
Although their mother has been dead for seven years, Princess Elisa and her eleven brothers lead a happy and careless life in the castle. But their father, the King, has decided to remarry. His new bride turns out to be an evil power hungry sorceress. To get rid of the annoying children, she magically transforms Elisa into a hideous girl and her brothers into wild swans. The King no longer recognizes Elisa and sends her away. She finds refuge with an old lady where she stays for many years. When one day her brothers find her but refuse to believe she’s their sister, Elisa tries to drown herself. However, she dives into a magical lake and is changed back into her beautiful self. Now Elisa plans to break the spell on her brothers, whatever it takes.
The movie is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Although a bit on the soft side, it looks good with fairly vivid colours and is mostly clear of blemishes. Reel marks and other print damage are visible on occasion. Often backgrounds appear very restless but I’m not sure if this is a problem with the transfer or if it’s drawn that way. The transfer is also partially interlaced.
Unfortunately the original audio is not present and we only get a German dub in dolby digital 2.0 mono. Some crackling and hiss is present. Dialogue tends to produce some distortion effects but remains easy to understand. No subtitles are available but songs and on-screen Russian text are translated by a voice-over.
The menu is nothing special and the available options are very hard to see. All we get is a scene selection consisting of 4 chapters and a pointless photo gallery with screenshots from the DVD. The cover art is rather ugly and its design is similar to other Russian films released on DVD by Icestorm Entertainment.
The animation in this film looks deceptively simple but is of high artistic quality. It’s a far cry from the realistic and detailed look of a Disney film but its style is much more interesting. Although seemingly aimed at younger children, the movie can be enjoyed by anyone and its short runtime makes sure boredom does not step in.
A decent DVD but the absence of the original audio and extras is disappointing. The Wild Swans is also released on DVD in the US by Image Entertainment as part of Stories From My Childhood: Volume 1. The sparse info I could find seems to suggest this DVD is English dubbed and fullscreen which would be blasphemous. Also, if you plan on buying the German DVD make sure you get the Icestorm Entertainment version reviewed here as it was previously released by UAP Film in a horrible pan & scan version (EAN: 4250015770504).