The Swan Princess

 
Classic story is less scary than most animated fairy tales.
  • Review Date: January 31, 2010
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1994
  • Running Time: 89 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

This film might be used as an introduction to Swan Lake, the ballet. There are enough similarities here to provide kids with a basic understanding of the ballet's story.

Positive messages

Loyalty, kindness, honesty, and cleverness are important and valuable traits. Good triumphs over evil. Finding someone beautiful is not reason enough for love; courage, brains, and goodness are more important.

Positive role models

The princess and the prince are courageous, loyal, and steadfast. The prince learns an important lesson about the shallowness of placing external beauty above all. The supporting characters exhibit great bravery as they risk their own lives to help a friend.

Violence & scariness

Limited cartoon violence: a beast is captured in a brief sequence with fire and lightning. An evil wizard with magical powers turns the princess into a swan and wreaks some havoc in this magical kingdom. There's a paintball battle for comic effect. An arrow pierces a lovable puffin's wing. A final battle between the wizard and the heroes is not very scary.

Sexy stuff

Several loving kisses between the prince and princess.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that THE SWAN PRINCESS is less scary than most animated fairy tales, though it does contain some of the typical action scenes common to these films. In most instances, these sequences are brief and do not depict injury or death. There's an evil enchanter, a flying beast, some fiery backgrounds, sounds of thunder and lightning. A scene in which the royal family's carriage is attacked is cut short before the princess is taken and the king wounded. King William delivers an important message to the prince, who comes to his aid, then simply disappears from the film. The longest "battle" is a paintball practice exercise, played entirely for humor. The final conflict takes place between the prince and the enchanter, who has turned himself into the flying creature. Princess Odette is portrayed with modern sensibilities, and is greatly offended when she believes the Prince loves her only for her beauty.

What's the story?

Princess Odette and Prince Derek are forced to spend all their childhood summers together. Their royal families hope they'll eventually fall in love and unite the two kingdoms. But Odette and Derek don't like each other much. They're almost adults when Derek finally realizes he does love Odette. By then she loves him too, but she wants him to value her for more than her beauty. He must prove he knows her worth. After refusing Derek's proposal, Odette is kidnapped by the Lord Rothbart (voiced by Jack Palance), an evil enchanter who places her under a spell, hoping to force her to marry him so that he can claim her kingdom as his own. Every morning Odette is transformed into a swan, where she remains until the moonlight shines upon the lake and she becomes a princess once again. Derek alone believes Odette is still alive. He sets off to find her, fight for her return, and declare his everlasting love.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Delightful music, rich characters, and a classic love story make this a very enjoyable, family-friendly animated film. The featured players, including a turtle (voiced by the droll comedian Steven Wright), an eccentric European frog (voiced with gusto by John Cleese), and a brave puffin (voiced by character actor Steve Vinovich) are particularly fun and memorable. Taking on Disney's successful "princess" monopoly, Richard Rich (who'd worked for "the Magic Kingdom" for many years) struck out on his own to create a stylish, beautifully drawn fairy tale with a modern spirit and unique humor. Though the film shows that he didn't have the enormous resources and funding of the Disney offerings, Rich succeeds admirably and spares his audience the innumerable tie-in products.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what inspired this movie: the story of "Swan Lake," the ballet.  It might be fun to read the ballet story together and see what the two tales have in common.

  • Why did Odette refuse to marry Prince Derek when he first asked her? What was she hoping he would say?

  • The music here is more contemporary than in most animated fairy tales. How did the modern songs and dancing add an element of humor and energize this old-fashioned story?

  • Do you think the King's early leniency toward Lord Rothbart was a mistake? Other than destroying the villain, what could the king have done to ensure that the villain didn't cause any more trouble?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 18, 1994
DVD release date:March 30, 2004
Cast:Jack Palance, John Cleese, Steven Wright
Director:Richard Rich
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Princesses and fairies
Run time:89 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of The Swan Princess was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent Written bysaraboo80 July 4, 2011
age 7+
 

A little too scary

I went ahead and let me 4 year old daughter watch it based on the rating of appropriate for 5 year olds. The ratings given didn't make it sound to scary. However, the monster that the sorcerer turns into near the end is VERY scary and she woke up with bad dreams. I think it needs to be for 7 and up.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Kid, 9 years old October 18, 2014
age 5+
 

Rips Off Disney Too Much, Bland Characters, and NO refrence to the ballet its based off of.

The characters barley have any personallity and it doesn't even REFRENCE the original Ballet. Besides that, the story was super boring and the songs were bad. My opinion.
Teen, 13 years old Written byanimateddisneyfan November 18, 2014
age 5+
 

eh could have been better

I like the movie but I think that it's got scenes that totally resembles Beauty and the Beast. But I do think it has some good messages and some older kids may laugh at some of the scenes for being corny (at least I do with one scene). but still somewhat of a good movie. :)
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass